Natural disasters can be very scary, but there are 5 items a family can do to give them peace of mind. Save memories ahead of time by regularly backing up computers, keep a “To Go” bag ready with survival essentials (and a few fun items), store high quality food that everyone likes and has a long shelf life, have access to water, and create a family emergency plan.
Every year more than 140,000,000 are impacted by a natural disaster. This is a staggering number and makes me think it is probably just a matter of time before it affects my family. There are a few simple items we can do now that will help tremendously no matter what the natural disaster is (these items can even help us when we lose a job or have unexpected bills).
People will have different needs depending on what type of natural disaster we go through (hurricane, tornado, tsunami, cyclone, flooding, blizzard, electrical storm, ice storm, earthquake, fire, etc.), but these 5 suggestions are applicable to all of them.
These days most people store their pictures and memories on their computers. However, most of us still have actual pictures in a box or album somewhere. How do we protect these priceless items? The easiest way is to digitize them. Smart phones have great cameras that make it easy to capture these memories. Set aside a couple of days to simply take pictures of all the items you want to save. Usually this can be done in a few hours. Once you have taken pictures of everything you have a couple of options. First, you can pay for a cloud-based storage site. The upside to this is you (or anyone you want) can access them whenever and wherever. The downside is it costs money and you may forget which site you used (I have done this!). There are many sites that do a good job, but the top sites in my opinion are (in no particular order) Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and Flickr. Second, you can keep them backed up on an external hard drive. The upside to this is you know where it is and you control everything about it. The downside is you may not always know where it is (lol), you have to be proactive in using it, and you may not be able to get to it during a natural disaster. I have had good success with this method if I get all my priceless items on it and then set a monthly reminder to do a full backup of my computers. I keep it in my laptop bag so I always know where it is and I can quickly grab it during any kind of problem. My family knows it is the one thing we need to grab if there is an emergency. Digitizing your memories is essential for a hurricane, tornado, tsunami, cyclone, flooding, blizzard, electrical storm, ice storm, earthquake, fire, etc.
Have a Ready to Go Bag
This is the most obvious one on this list, but most people don’t take time to make a “Ready to Go Bag”. In my experience, the best type of bag is a backpack. At the very least, you should have one bag for the family, however, you should have one bag for each member of your family. In this bag should be a copy of your ID, portable charger, water filter, cash ($100 if possible), blanket, granola bars, dried fruit, dehydrated food, mess kit, first aid kit, whistle, poncho, bug repellant, solar powered radio, jacket, flashlight, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, medications, mylar emergency blanket, and 2 bottles of water. Also, you may need distractions so pack a couple of games or books with crossword puzzles, sudoku, etc. The “Ready to Go Bag” is essential for a hurricane, tornado, tsunami, cyclone, flooding, blizzard, electrical storm, ice storm, earthquake, fire, etc.
Storing food is one of the hardest to do. Many people get frustrated when researching what to purchase because there are so many options and they can be very expensive. Another challenge is finding food your family will actually eat. Dehydrated or freeze-dried complete meals are the best to have on hand. They are easy to prepare and last a long time. You want to have your food in small easy to pack packets (usually 4-6 serving pouches). Make sure to buy food from a company that uses thick foil pouches with oxygen absorbers because they have the longest shelf life and are small and easy to transport. If possible, try the food for dinners or lunches so you know what meals your family likes. There are some food storage companies out there that sell food that tastes really good. Storage Chef is really unique because it is the only company that offers a subscription service, so you don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars up front. Storing food is essential for hurricane, tornado, tsunami, cyclone, flooding, blizzard, electrical storm, ice storm, earthquake, fire, etc.
Storing water is a tricky thing to do because many scientists believe that after sitting for a long time (especially in heat) water bottles will leach chemicals into the water. There are many safe containers to store water for long periods of time like the 55-gallon drums. When storing water in these drums, it is recommended to add 7 teaspoons of bleach (non-scented) to a 55-gallon drum (according to the CDC). A good rule of thumb is to store 2 gallons of water per person per day so 1 55-gallon drum will be good for most families. Keeping a water filter is also important (this is on the list of items in your “Ready to Go Bag”). If you run out of water or need to leave your house, a water filter will help you get drinking water wherever you go. Sawyer, LifeStraw and Katadyn are some of the best reviewed brands of portable water filters. These water filters can also be used if the water at your house is ever deemed not safe. Storing water is essential for hurricane, tornado, tsunami, cyclone, flooding, blizzard, electrical storm, ice storm, earthquake, fire, etc.
Create an Emergency Plan
An emergency plan can be invaluable, especially if you have children living with you. You only need a few variations of the plan because several of the natural disasters can be treated the same in your plan. For example, an earthquake and tornado would have the same plan because it happens quickly and is over so you can have a place to meet. However, flooding or certain storms can be ongoing so you would need a different plan. Schedule 10 minutes every 3 months with your family to review your emergency plan. This will help everyone remember what it is, but also allow you to make changes where needed (if someone changed bedrooms, if the designated meeting point needs to be changed, etc.). Your emergency plan should include a designated place outside your home to meet, how to contact each family member, a designated relative or close friend who lives in another state to contact (this is so everyone has a main point of contact that is not impacted by the natural disaster), and what to do after you meet or have everyone accounted for. Make sure your plan includes contacting relatives that live close by. Your emergency plan can also include a simple plan of your house so everyone is clear on how to get out and where to meet. Each of the second story bedrooms should have an emergency ladder. These are fairly inexpensive ($40 - $100) and are rolled up in a bag by each window. They are easy to pull out of the bag and throw out the window. Creating an emergency plan is essential for hurricane, tornado, tsunami, cyclone, flooding, blizzard, electrical storm, ice storm, earthquake, fire, etc.
If you set aside a couple of days now to complete these 5 items (Save Memories, put together a Ready to Go Bag, Store Food, Store Water, and Create an Emergency Plan) you will have the peace of mind knowing your family will have the essentials during a hurricane, tornado, tsunami, cyclone, flooding, blizzard, electrical storm, ice storm, earthquake, fire, etc.
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