Whether it’s a terrorist attack, fire, flood, hurricane or earthquake the news seems to be a constant reminder that we need to be prepared. Why not take a few minutes this Fall to check out your own home and see what you need to replace, purchase or re-purpose? For state of the art disaster preparedness the Red Cross has a comprehensive website. Check it out at www.RedCross.org. We can get our feet wet here with a few easy steps and Fall is the perfect time to get started. You know how it is: once the first domino goes the rest are sure to follow!
You want to have a stash of several days of clean water set aside in your home. The rule of thumb is one gallon per person per day with 3 days being ideal. If your current supply has an expiration date be sure to check and see how much time you have left before you need to head to the store to replenish your supply. Expired water is great for plants and your lawn so nothing will be wasted. This may be a great time to clean out and organize your pantry so you have space for your disaster supplies.
Very often my clients stock up on basic canned and packaged foods and then never check the expiration dates. This is an important thing to do each year. Why not set aside time each year to check your emergency food and water supply? Schedule it on your calendar and while you’re at it make sure your fire alarm works and if you have a carbon monoxide alert be sure those batteries are alive and kicking. Do other critical tools in your home run on batteries? Check them all out as this is such a critical step in your family safety plan.
Watch the Sunday paper for coupons and stock up on all the sizes your family uses. If you have the space store them in your refrigerator to extend their life and be sure you have a battery tester on hand. Speaking of batteries you have one in your car, right? When was the last time you had your car serviced? Keep it in tip top shape with at least a half tank of gas at all times. You never know when you’ll need to make a quick getaway.
Place a flashlight in every room in your home. And be sure you have a stash of candles and matches as well. If you like aromatherapy and scented candles after they lose their fragrance you can re-purpose them as part of your emergency stash. I have emergency lights in every room. In the event of a power outage they automatically come on and give you 45 minutes of light. You don’t want to be stumbling in the dark searching for your flashlight and candles!
In your hall closet have a small overnight bag ready to grab in the event of an emergency. If you take prescription meds be sure you have at least a week’s supply here. And don’t forget Fido and Fifi! They will need an emergency exit bag as well. If you travel a lot these emergency kits will be a life saver for the house/child/dog sitter. You’ll want an updated Emergency Call List on your refrigerator at all times. If you use something like Google Calendar that every family member can access be sure those numbers are listed there as well. Police and Fire Departments, doctors and close relatives and friends should all be on this list and for that matter programmed into your smart phones. Sometimes ‘over kill’ is a good precaution and not a waste of energy and time. You can update this list after you check those expiration dates.
Keep food, water and a change of clothing in your car. At the very least have an extra pair of shoes! If you’re a woman returning home from work in heels and a disaster strikes you will welcome those boots or sneakers you stashed here. I encounter stray animals in my travels and always have a few bowls, food, treats and water n the trunk of my car so I can help these creatures.
It really helps if at least one person in your family is trained in CPR. The Red Cross and your local community government sponsor classes in CPR and other types of preparedness. In my area we have CERT (Community Emergency Response Training) classes a few times a year. You’ll learn all manner of vital tips. You’ll even get to practice with a fire extinguisher! (Did you know there were different types for different types of fire?) In a major disaster the police and fire representatives might not be able to get into your community. It’s critical we have trained community leaders who can pitch in until help is able to arrive.
When you travel from home to home as I have over the past 20+ years you begin to see patterns. I am always amused when a family goes all out for disaster preparedness and then stashes their goods in an inaccessible area of the garage or worse one far from an entry/exit point. If you can’t reach your supplies there’s no reason to have them!
It’s human nature to want to avoid such preparation at all costs. We feel that if we don’t bring in the supplies, pack the bags, make the lists or take the classes we’re buying an emergency plan extension. We are in effect placing ourselves and those we love in jeopardy. Have a family meeting and discuss what needs to be done. Have the Red Cross site open on your computer or iPad during the meeting. Teach your children by example the importance of such research and learning. Get the entire family involved by making age appropriate assignments. Have a disaster emergency response plan and be sure everyone understands it! You won’t ever regret the time and energy you poured into this all-important task. And you might even save a life in the process. What better way to spend a few hours this Fall?
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