Wildfires in California, hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and blizzards in the Midwest and Northeastâ€”natural disasters are everywhere, and they can strike with minimal warning. When they do, itâ€™s up to you to make sure that your family and your property are protected as well as they can be. Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s so important to have your supplies prepared and ready to go and to have an easy way to keep track of what you have and what you need. Keep this checklist handy for when the worst happens so that you and your family will be better able to manage an emergency evacuation and come out safely on the other side.
1. Have a plan laid out for where youâ€™re going to go.
Knowing safe places to go is a big part of any good disaster preparedness plan. Create a plan for how youâ€™re going to evacuate and where youâ€™re going to go, including:
â— Hotels that are in your price range, outside the likely evacuation zone and pet-friendly (if necessary)
â— Friends or relatives you can stay with
â— Disaster shelters (use the FEMA mobile app to find out where the shelters in your area are)
Because you probably wonâ€™t be sure until itâ€™s go-time which areas will be evacuated, make a multi-directional plan that gives you options depending on which way youâ€™ll have to travel.
2. Create an emergency supply kit and have it prepared to grab at a momentâ€™s notice.
â— First aid kit
â— Multiple copies of photo IDs for all family members
â— Other important documents like insurance policies and property deeds
â— One gallon of drinking water per person per day for three days
â— Supply of non-perishable food for three days
â— Manual can opener
â— Battery powered or hand crank radio
â— Extra phone chargers
â— Pair of waterproof work gloves
â— Map of the local area
â— Cash (exactly how much is up to you, but at least enough for a few nights in a hotel and basic groceries)
â— Any critical prescription medications your family members need
â— Whistle to signal for help
â— Kitchen utensils and cooking supplies
â— Several changes of clothes, including durable waterproof clothing
The kit will be most useful if you store it in a place where itâ€™s easy to â€œgrab and run.â€ If you can, itâ€™s also a good idea to have a backup emergency kit in your vehicle should you be caught out on the road.
3. Make sure your vehicle (if you have one) is ready to go.
Fuel supplies are often among the first casualties of a natural disaster, as people gas up their vehicles and get out of town, so make sure youâ€™re not caught unprepared. Keep at least one full tank of gas in jerricans if you have a place you can store them. If you donâ€™t, and you have some advance warning of the impending event, monitor the fuel situation in your area so that you can gas up before itâ€™s too late.
If you donâ€™t have a car, things can be a little trickier. Try to make plans with a friend or relative who can drive you and your family to safety or contact your local government about evacuation buses.
4. Plan for your petsâ€™ care.
Caring for pets during a disaster evacuation is an important consideration that too many pet owners sometimes overlook. First, make sure that your pets are microchipped and have accurate information on their collars. Have a few daysâ€™ supply of food and water ready for your pets in the event that you have to evacuate, as well as carrier crates with comfort objects such as favorite toys. As mentioned earlier, you should also try to find pet-friendly accommodations ahead of time so youâ€™re not searching while youâ€™re on the road.
5. Get your home as disaster-ready as it can be.
No one wants to leave their home in the path of a disaster, but sometimes itâ€™s necessary. If you have to, there are some basics steps you should follow to make your home as safe as it can be. What preparations you need to take to prepare your home will depend on the nature of the disaster. However, some common ones include:
â— Attaching plywood over windows
â— Turning off utilities
â— Taking items out of the yard that may cause damage to the house
â— Moving valuables you canâ€™t take with you to an upper story
â— Locking doors and windows to help keep out opportunistic looters.
6. Monitor official communications and follow all directions.
This is one of the most important steps, as the governmentâ€™s disaster experts will be making a plan and communicating it to people inside the evacuation zone. Whether itâ€™s by radio, smartphone, TV or another communication medium, staying informed about the situation is absolutely critical so that you know time frames for evacuation and which routes are safe.
Only return when youâ€™ve been told through an official communication that itâ€™s safe. Resist the urge to head back as soon as you hear that the worst is over. There may still be significant hazards you havenâ€™t accounted for, and you donâ€™t want to interfere with emergency crews who may still be trying to save lives.
7. Be on the lookout for post-disaster hazards.
A community after a disaster can be full of all kinds of hazards you might not expect, so make sure youâ€™re keeping an eye out for them and contacting the proper authorities should you encounter them. These can include:
â— Exposed wires and downed power lines
â— Gas leaks
â— Contaminated tap water
â— Damage that weakens structural components of your home
â— Water damage that causes invisible problems such as black mold
No plan is perfect or foolproof, and none will ever be able to protect you completelyâ€”but, by putting in the work to develop a strong, robust plan now, you can be more ready to adapt when disaster strikes. If youâ€™re not prepared for the worst, youâ€™re putting yourself at riskâ€”so, take some simple steps now to get your home and family evacuation-ready.
Author Bio: Natalie Bucsko serves as the Marketing Communications Specialist for RefrigiWear. From the Dahlonega, GA headquarters, Natalie oversees all content, including the website, knowledge center, blog, catalog, email, and social media. Before joining RefrigiWear, Natalie worked as a Marketing Coordinator for several years at companies ranging from startups to insurance. She enjoys cooking and baking, sports, reading and spending time outdoors â€“ especially when it is cold!