Stuff happens. NYC has random blackouts; snow and ice storms take down power or pipes freeze. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, droughts, volcanoes, and wild fires all happen within the United States. This isn’t a climate change or political rant, this is a fact of life. If you live east of the Mississippi, you probably saw 24/7 news coverage of Hurricane Matthew in October, which hit the south-eastern US. There were evacuations, empty store shelves, and people lining up for hours just to buy gasoline.
File this under the list of “Adult things I have to think about now that I’m an adult,” but you should be prepared for a disaster. We’re not talking tin foil hat making and building a bunker in your backyard prepared; we’re talking basic FEMA-recommended prepared. FEMA does amazing work, but let’s not make their jobs harder by being ill-prepared. To quote the Department of Homeland Security Website “Although local officials and relief workers will be around after a disaster, they cannot reach everyone immediately. Your help may arrive in hours or it might take days. Electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be off for days or even a week, or longer.” So you can prepare instead of panic, here’s a list of 25 Things You Can Do To Prepare Now For When Disaster Strikes.
No one expects a fire or flood or major storm, and that’s why we have homeowner’s and renter’s insurance. Do your research, talk to an actual insurance agent about the risks in your area, and get insured.
Keep some cash on hand.
I know this is difficult for some, and more likely to be relevant if you’re in a situation where you have warning that there might be an issue – say, a hurricane heading towards the Eastern Seaboard – but keep $50 in cash, mostly in small bills on hand. Even if power is just out for a few days, or if the grocery store has a generator, you may not be able to buy ice and water with a credit card. Cash: it’s still useful.
Store some food.
The general rule is that you should have enough food stored up for three days, for each person in your house. Don’t forget about snacks, shelf stable milk, fuel for your grill or camp stove to cook with, and a french press or other non-electric coffee maker. Be aware of what you have on hand and “rotate stock” as necessary. Aside from disaster preparedness, storing some non-perishable foods helps in case of sudden job loss or if you have an expense and your grocery budget gets cut, or if someone you know is in a bad spot and needs help.
Make a plan for your family.
If you’re on different sides of town when something bad happens, do you know where to meet up? Do you have an evacuation plan? Think about the most likely scenarios for your area and make a plan and a backup plan, and go over it with your family at least once a month.
Flashlights and extra batteries, solar powered lights, waterproof matches, and candles will all be very valuable when you can’t flick a switch.