Where to start?
The prospect of “getting prepared for emergencies” can seem like a huge undertaking. Do you prepare for three days? For a week? A month?
Here are some easy steps to get you started:
Which emergencies concern you and your family the most? Identify these first, then make a list of the disasters and how they would impact your family. Talk about how you could overcome the impacts of each disaster.
For example, a disaster that involves a power outage may cause you to be without water if you are on a well. A way to overcome this would be to find an alternate water source, or an alternate way to power your well pump.
Decide as a family when you would evacuate, and when you would shelter in place.
For example, you might choose to weather a winter storm in your house, but would choose to evacuate if a wildfire threatened your neighborhood.
Decide as a family the duration for which you want to prepare.
Identify for whom you are making preparations (humans, pets and livestock).
Make a list of the things you’ll need during a disaster. There are many lists of suggested items on the internet.
Then, assess your current level of preparedness:
Take inventory of equipment and supplies you already have (i.e. camping gear)
Talk about what you need to do in order to overcome the impacts of disaster to your family, and see how many solutions you can implement right now.
Using the example from above, a generator may be the best solution to the problem. If you don’t currently have a generator or the means to get one, a temporary solution might be to store water in plastic jugs or drums until you are able to get a generator.
Finally, make a list of steps you need to take in order to achieve the level of preparedness you and your family identified. Make a weekly or monthly commitment to work on these steps with your family. Develop a monthly budget and shopping list.
Common steps include:
1. Build 72-hour kits for your home and vehicles
2. Create an emergency plan for you and your family:
a) A plan for how you and your family members will contact each other when a disaster occurs
b) A plan for how to get out of your home quickly and safely if the need arises
c) Phone numbers for your doctors and veterinarians
d) Names and phone numbers of people you can stay with temporarily, both locally and out of the area, in case you have to evacuate your home
e) Names and phone numbers of people who can house your animals if you have to evacuate your home
3. Teach family members how to turn off gas, electrical and water services to your home
4. Create a defensible space around your home by clearing brush and trimming trees
Be sure to test your plans! Preparing and having a plan can help you to feel less vulnerable to disasters. Training and testing can be positive experiences that help alleviate anxiety over the unknown.