Emergencies can happen anywhere at anytime — and while no one likes to be a pessimist, it's truly better to stay prepared than to be caught off guard without a plan. No matter what the disaster may be, here's what you can do to keep you and your loved ones safe:
Create a plan
Gather your family members and create a plan for a number of different situations. Explain the dangers and discuss how you can prepare, react and help one another should disaster strike. Create a map detailing your home and where you all can meet outside of your home if you are separated or lost. Make sure your escape plans are accessible to all members of your family, including the young ones, seniors and those with special needs.
Ensure each family member has each other's phone numbers, as well as local emergency numbers programmed into their cell phones. FEMA recommends also designating an “out-of-town” contact who each family member should contact with their location and status in the case of emergency.
Practice your plan every few months to ensure everyone knows the protocol.
Pack an emergency kit
Now that you've got a plan, you should put together an emergency kit. It's worth noting that modern technology allows many older recommendations, like spare batteries, can be replaced with a solar generator kit, which uses solar power to create power for your other electronics.
- One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. This should be enough for drinking and sanitation purposes.
- A three-day supply of non-perishable food for everyone in your family — and any pets — as well as a manual can opener.
- A first aid kit that includes enough bandages, antibiotic ointment, and prescribed medications for everyone in your family.
- Spiral-bound, laminated copies of local maps. They're more durable than paper.
- A portable solar generator that will help you keep all your family's emergency electronics charged. Find a style and size that works for you, and be sure to bring any cord adapters you might require.
- A flashlight with fully charged batteries.
- A cell phone and a charger.
- A whistle to signal for help in the case of a crisis.
- Spare clothes for cold or wet conditions.
- Stay informed You're prepared with a plan and with a kit, now all you have to do is stay informed. First, learn everything you can about where you live. Understand what weather patterns you can expect and how you should react when they occur.
Ask where your local law enforcement officers are. Ask those officers how they will contact you during an emergency and what kind of directions you can expect from them.
Sign yourself up for emergency alerts, breaking news notifications and severe weather warnings. These will keep you up-to-date on the latest information you need to stay safe and aware of your surroundings.
In the case of an emergency or disaster, contact your local emergency management office or local American Red Cross Chapter to gather any pertinent information.