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How to Prepare for a Disaster.

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I know what your thinking.  A disaster Christine, really? That’s a bit dramatic isn’t it?  I remember when the calendar year turned to 2000.  All computers were supposed to crash, people’s money would be wiped out in an instance.  Society was to devolve into chaos.  At least that is what my parents told me.

They stockpiled a few days of food, took out several hundred dollars in cash etc for the impending computer disaster.  I could have cared less.  I understood that people had been working on this computer problem for more than a decade.  I wasn’t too worried.  Then years later, Hurricane Katrina hit.  My views changed.

When the American city of New Orleans was hit (not directly) and started to flood it was devastating.  I knew our government had plans, or at least that is what I thought.  It turns out money was cut and those put in charge of the vital agencies were token leaders who didn’t know what they are doing.  No one in the government called out the military to help, it was a disaster.

I kept watching TV and thinking that any day the Marines were going to show up.  By the time they did, it was too late for a lot of people.  Many people died that didn’t need to.  It was then, I decided to prepare for a disaster.

I’m not talking about hardcore prepping.  That is another story in itself.  We are not planning for a zombie apocalypse or a nuclear disaster.  I am not going to write posts for firearms or making your own cross bow by whittling wood.

Where I live a hurricane isn’t going to happen.  I do get blizzards, flooding, tornadoes and the like.  If you live in California, you get earthquakes.  Are you a reader who lives in Central Africa?  Do you deal with civil unrest? Famine and drought? Or a Pandemic? Every part of the planet has something.  Figuring out what can happen in your area is the first step to being prepared.

Once you figure out your potential disasters, understand how your family will be effected by it.  Does someone need special medication?  Do you need help moving a family member? Are they bed ridden?  Do you have pets?  No vehicle?

One thing you can do is get to know your area, especially the back roads. Make a plan for if your family isn’t together when disaster strikes?  Fortunately, we live in a modern society so it is rare when we don’t have some sort of warning. Get a communication plan.  Have a meeting area.  Talk things over with your children so they know what to do.

You should also gather documents and important items. Keep a list of contacts.  Make that list a hard copy.  If your phone loses service you want to know how to contact people.

If a disaster starts,  don’t get caught looking for your id or passport.

Are there things you want to keep safe?  Like your grandmas necklace or your family photos?   Scan any vital photos, take photos of your home and valuables for insurance.  Keep a thumb drive with your emergency kit.  Don’t plan to take bulky items.  You can’t bring your dining room table with you.  Keep sentimental items down to items that fit into a shoe box or bread box.  Small and portable is the name of the game.  The same thing goes for your family.  Your child’s stuffed bunny is important and vital to them.

A great place to start planning is at the government site http://www.ready.gov.  It can get you in the mindset of your current environment and what you might need to consider.

Also, remember that  being prepared is not just having physical items.  It is also having knowleddge.  If we keep with the hurricane example, do you know where to go for evacuation?  How are you going to get there?  What if your family isn’t together?  Start writing down a plan today.

Also, don’t forget your pets.  They are family too!  If you have an elderly neighbor who has no family, what will they do?  These are things to think about.  You can also gather information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at http://www.fema.gov, the centers for disease control at http://www.cdc.gov, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at http://www.aspca.gov, and the charity The Red Cross at http://www.redcross.org.

Here are my ideas for an emergency kit.   Please note this does not include food or drink. It does also not include information or paperwork you will need.

My kit includes:

1. A Tarp.  The tarp can be used for shelter or to keep the elements out if you have a roof failure or window failure.

2. Blanket. You need to keep warm.  If it’s windy or rainy or even snow.  It’s also great to keep in your car when you are mobile.

3. Fire Starter. Lose power for a few days?  How are you going to cook?  What if you need to boil water?  Light a candle?

4.Water Filter. If your well or city water fail.

5. First Aid kit. (I will be going into what this should contain in a later post.)  Also, along the lines of first aid kits, do you know how to administer first aid?   Do you know CPR?  Check locally for the chance to learn.  It can save a life.

6.Small Knife.  I keep one handy at all times.  It’s amazing how much you use it even in a non-emergency situation.

7. Multi-tool. If you are at home and have a ton of tools this is redundant.  This one you can take with you.  You want to be able to tighten screws or help deconstruct things when needed.

8. A light.  This can be a flashlight (with extra batteries), a headlamp, candles, glow sticks etc.  Get several. 9. A cord/rope.  I carry this in my car no matter what.  You can always use rope for constructing a shelter, tie down items or grouping them.  To tie people together in a crowd even!

10. Basic toiletries.  Things to keep you clean and comfortable and help ward off disease.  I will go into what to include in “Basic Toiletries” in another post.

Does your family have an emergency or disaster kit?  What do you include in yours?

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