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.
Have a first aid kit prepared
Have it prepared, and make it specific to members of your family. You don’t necessarily need to be able to do minor surgery, but you want more than band-aids and Neosporin. Consider things like a brace or sports wrap in case someone gets a sprain or brake until you can safely get to a medical facility and prescription medications. If you take something regularly – such as blood pressure medication, blood thinners, or seizure medications, talk to your doctor about having some extra on hand. You don’t want to be snowed in for a week without vital medications.
Learn some basic skills.
CPR, basic first aid, shutting off utilities to your house if necessary (frozen pipes burst, you guys!), how to cook without power, advanced shadow puppeting, etc can and will come in very handy should the unexpected happen. Read some books, watch some things on YouTube, talk to people who have been in weird and unexpected situations before. Bonus, you’ll be more confident instead of scared and panicky.
Know where your local emergency shelters and evacuation routes are.
It’s well worth taking a few minutes to drive to see where and how far the nearest shelter is, and they’re usually schools anyway. Evacuation routes are picked for a specific reason, and even though these might get busy if you’re evacuated due to say, a giant storm or flood, there’s a reason that designated evacuation routes are there. That shortcut you know and possibly want to use may be unsafe. Doing something else, particularly in an emergency when you’re being evacuated, is not the smartest idea.
Have diapers and wipes, and if necessary formula, ready.
Just like food, you should have at least enough for 72 hours if not longer. Even if you regularly use cloth diapers, in an emergency or disaster you may not be able to rinse/soak/wash, so put a package of disposables away.
Invest in a solar charger for your cell phone.
It’s not uncommon, particularly in the South, to have power lines taken out by storms but still have cell signal. So imagine sitting around your house, sans electricity for two days with cell phone signal but no way to charge them. If you think you can just run down to Starbucks or Walmart and plug in, remember that hundreds if not thousands of other people will have the same idea. You can easily find a solar charger on Amazon or similar online stores.