Disasters can strike at anytime of year and you may find yourself in an emergency situation. Your home is your first line of defense against this catastrophic event. There are ways to prepare your home to protect you and your family. Keeping the “Priorities of Survival” in mind, here are ways to ensure that you and your family will maintain your comforts of home during this unfortunate situation.
Develop a plan before an emergency situation arises. Find a “safe room” within the house that would provide you safety and security. Storm shelters, and a basement would be the best scenario, but if you do not have those options, find a room with no or very few windows on the lowest level of your house. Securing boards on the outside of the windows would increase your level of protection from flying debris. Minimize the amount of possible flying debris by tying down or putting all outside furniture, toys, umbrellas and anything that might potentially be hazardous, in the house or in a secure structure.
Build an emergency kit. An emergency kit contains all your survival essentials in one area for easy access. Place your essential in a water proof container such as a plastic tote container(s) and store it in your safe room or an area with easy access. It’s recommended that a kit should be equipped with items to last a minimum of 72 hours.- K12
Include a first aid kit and any medications that you may require. Some first aid kits contain gels, creams, and ointments that have an expiration date. Periodically check your first aid kit to ensure none of the supplies have expired. Include toilet paper, anti-bacterial wipes, and plenty of hand sanitizer. Practicing good personal hygiene during an emergency will help prevent any further illness and spread of harmful bacteria and viruses.
Your kits should contain 1 gallon of water per person per day. Emergency situations demand more activity; therefore you need to stay hydrated. You can fill your bathtub, and every container in your house to increase your water supply.
Two methods to purify water that you may think is non-potable, is boiling and using bleach. Bring untreated water to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. Cover the pot when boiling to capture all the evaporation. When using bleach to disinfect your water, ensure that it is unscented household bleach. Place 2-4 drops of bleach per quart in clear and temperate water. Shake container, loosen the cap and turn upside down to let water run over the threads then let it sit for 30-45 minutes. After the 30-45 minutes, it should still smell like bleach. If it doesn’t smell like bleach, add 2-4 more drops, shake and let stand for another 30 minutes.
Look for other water sources around your area such as the location of streams, ponds, and creeks, reservoirs, and swimming pools. Use swimming pools for bathing, washing equipment, and not drinking. Installing rain barrels on your gutter system is an excellent alternative means of water collection. Check with your local water authority for any regulations. Hot water heaters in the house are another means of water storage.
There are many freeze-dried emergency food options that have a long shelf life. Stock up on emergency food that you would normally eat. Eat the food in your refrigerator first. Perishable food will spoil and needs to be discarded when the refrigerator temperature is above 40 degrees F for over two hours. If cooking is required and you have a barbeque grill, light it up! Camping stoves are also a great way to improve your situation. Just use the grill and camping stoves outside.
Include emergency lighting. Flashlights, extra batteries, candles all need to be in your kit. There are wind-up emergency light/radio combo devices that also provide you with information from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An alternate method of lighting is by using vegetable oil in a flameproof container such as a tuna can with a wick. The wick can be made from cotton string or a piece of twisted paper towel. Solar charging devices would be an added bonus for your electronic devices.
Have a communication plan with your loved ones. Cell phone coverage may be spotty or non-existent. Texting should be your primary means to communicate. It takes less bandwidth to send a text message then it does to make a phone call. Leave the phones off to conserve battery life and set up designated times to communicate with each other.
The use of paper dishware will minimize washing dishes and will help conserve needed water for drinking. Another added benefit to using paper is that you can burn it in the trash later.
Have cash in small bills available. Just because you lost power doesn’t necessarily mean the other side of town did too. You might have the opportunity to purchase needed items where credit cards won’t be an option.
Scan all of your important documentation on to a memory device such as a USB thumb drive, SD card, or a CD and protect that in its own waterproof container. Include documents such as your birth certificate, banking information, marriage certificate(s), will, social security cards, and anything else you feel is necessary.
Have a means for entertainment. Waiting for things to return back to “normal” can be long and boring. Including games, a deck of cards, and books can be a great way to pass the time, especially with kids.
Lastly have an escape plan. Have backpacks available to transfer your emergency kit, or build a “bug out bag” and have it ready incase you have to evacuate your home. Obtain maps of the area and designate multiple routes (if applicable) to get out safely. Test the routes before you need to use them in an emergency situation.