Yep, you guessed it, this post is brought to you by the nearly lost city of ATLANTis.
Given that our little neighborhood has been nearly taken out by tornadoes and now flooding, I thought perhaps this would be a good time for a refresher on personal disaster preparedness. Being prepared is a big part of sustainability, but it’s pretty easy to think you’ll get to it someday, isn’t it? I know we’re guilty of that. So for this post, I’m going to focus on disasters that basically affect you, your home, and the immediately surrounding areas. Things like fires, floods, a tornado, or a tree falling on your roof. Please feel free to add suggestions and things I’ve forgotten in the comments! Thanks!
First, your family should have a plan. You know how hotels have fire escape routes on the backs of their doors? Draw one up for your home. Even if you don’t post it on the door, just drawing one up will help you make sure that you really could get out.
If you have kids, it might not be a bad idea to make the drawing cute and put it in their rooms, and also hold a fire drill, just so they know what to do too.
Please don’t forget your pets either. Keep carriers handy, and loaded with a bottle of water, a soft towel, and maybe even some rescue remedy to help keep them calm. Fire departments and vets will usually stock stickers for your door letting rescue personnel how many animals are in the home, in the event a fire or other disaster happens while you are away.
Investing in a portable, fireproof box for your important documents is also a good idea. Keep your insurance policy numbers, copies of important medication prescriptions, bank information, passports, birth certificates and other irreplaceable documents in one, and keep it someplace you could grab it in the 2 minutes you might have to get out. Many boxes will withstand several hours of flames as well as being submerged, so again if you aren’t home, you’ll be able to access those much-needed things later. It’s also a really good idea to borrow a small video camera and walk around your home filming each room, then storing the tape or memory card in the box with your documents.
(creative commons Flickr photo from FindFado)
Ok, so what if it isn’t a fire or flood, but a big storm that knocks power out in your neighborhood for days on end? Well, for that you might need a different list of items, and here’s a starter:
Water, at least three day’s worth plus water purification tablets in case the outage lasts longer. (or, read up on alternate purification methods over here)
Canned and packaged foods that do not need refridgeration. (don’t forget a can opener)
A propane stove (unless you cook with gas and can light it with a match)
If it’s really cold outside, you might consider putting your perishables outside in a cooler in the snow.
Batteries and several flashlights.
Candles, firewood if you have a place to burn it.
Bottles of wine and a corkscrew. (trust me, you’ll appreciate this)
Books, games, craft projects… basically things to keep your family from going stir crazy.
You’ll want to try and stay connected to the world. You can buy hand-crank emergency radios to keep up with storm conditions and emergency news. It’s also a great idea to invest in a solar charger for your cell phone. (a car charger is a close second)
If it’s really cold, those shake-up hand warmers can be a lifesaver. One year when our heat went out, a friend sent me a package of them. I had them in my sleeves, my boots, my underwear… they really helped! Your pets will love you for sticking a couple in their beds too.
Then there’s the list of items it’s a good idea to have in your car in the event a disaster hits while you’re on the road.
Jumper Cables, Fix-A-Flat, bottles of water, a snack or two, blankets, some of those roadside reflectors or even a flare, a basic tool set and the charger for your phone are all good items to keep in a box in the back of the car.
Speaking of on the road, your family should designate a meeting place and create a plan for where you will meet under different circumstances should something happen when you are not all together. You can also assign responsibilities, like person A is responsible for rounding up little or furry ones, person B gets the important boxes, a credit card, the keys, etc…
Ok! So that’s a start, and quite a bit to think about. In writing it, I’ve realized just how many things we’re missing, eep!