How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster

The best way to survive a natural disaster is to properly prepare for one. Every household and workplace should have an emergency survival plan in place. How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster offers planning tips and survival advice.

Properly preparing for the possibility of a natural disaster is a responsible step to take. An organized plan can save lives and ease trauma should the worst occur. However, please remember that your odds of dying or being hurt in a natural disaster are very low. Your preparations should make you worry less about disasters, not more.

Step 1: Survival Essentials

  • Each part of the world faces unique challenges in preparing for natural disasters. These differences will impact how you prepare. Contact your local Red Cross chapter and ask for information about the types of disasters that may impact your location. But no matter where you live or what type of disaster you may encounter, every home should have a supply of six disaster necessities.
  1. Water: People can live for long periods of time without food, but water is essential for survival. Every home should have an emergency supply of water. Properly store a minimum of 6 gallons per family member in non-breakable containers.
  2. Food: Store a supply of non-perishable food items such as canned goods and packaged food that doesn't require cooking. This food might be the only nourishment your family receives during the aftermath of a disaster so choose a wide variety of items. Remember to pack some manual can openers along with your food supply. By keeping food safe, you will avoid possible infection and health risks.
  3. Survival Kit: Every home should have a waterproof tote full of important items, such as flashlights, radios, new batteries, extra clothing and various tools. Put together a disaster survival kit or purchase a ready-made package online.
    • In addition to an emergency kit, create a "Go Bag" that holds basic supplies such as clothes, cash and important papers. This bag will be used if you ever have to evacuate your home quickly.
  4. First-Aid Kit: Make sure you have a fully updated first-aid kit in your home at all times. These kits should have a wide variety of bandages, aspirin, gauze and antibiotic cream.
  5. Medications: Be sure to have an emergency supply of your important medications. Keep at least a 3-5 day supply and check the expiration dates regularly. If you have complicated medical issues, discuss an emergency plan with your doctor.

Step 2: Prepare Your Home and Family

  • Every household faces unique issues and concerns when creating a family disaster plan. Creating a cohesive family plan can be accomplished by understanding the specific dynamic and needs of your family and your home.
  1. Prepare for medical emergencies: Hold regular family meetings and assign duties to each member of the household. Train all responsible family members in CPR. Teach young children how to dial 911.
  2. Utilities: Make sure every adult family member knows how to turn off the gas, electricity and water in your home. In addition, everyone should be able to use a fire extinguisher.
  3. Fix home hazards: Search for hazards around your home to identify and fix potential dangers such as defective wiring, leaks and ceiling cracks.
  4. Safe spots: Identify safe locations in your home should a disaster such as a tornado or earthquake occur.
  5. Contact numbers: Post a list of emergency contact numbers in every room of your house. Make sure your local hospital, fire department, work phone numbers, family numbers, doctors and neighbors are all listed.
  6. Meeting places: Choose two locations to meet up with your family: one close to home and a second in a different area.
  7. Take care of special needs: Seniors and people with disabilities often have physical challenges that make disaster planning more difficult. It's important to establish a plan that addresses individual needs.
  8. Protect your pets: Make sure you create a pet disaster kit that includes food, water, licenses and current photos of your pet. Speak to your veterinarian about your pet's individual needs.

Step 3: Prepare at Work

  • A natural disaster can strike at any time. Once you've prepared your home and family, focus on changing a few things at work.
  1. Speak with your office's safety officer to get a copy of the company's evacuation plan.
    • If your office doesn't have a person monitoring safety, ask that one be appointed.
  2. Get a copy of the building map and highlight all exits and stairways.
  3. Find out where the fire extinguishers are located.
  4. Make sure all first-aid kits are up-to-date.
  5. Keep some water and non-perishable food items at your desk.
  6. Carry identification information and current contact numbers in your wallet or purse.
  7. Be sure to update emergency contact information with your Human Resources representative any time there's a change.

Step 4: Prepare Your Car

  • Given how much time Americans spend on the road, you should also prepare your car for the worst.
  1. Always keep your tank at least half-full.
  2. Perform regular maintenance so your car is in good shape.
  3. Keep a supply of food and water in the trunk.
  4. Keep a first aid kit in the car.
  5. Have a flashlight in the car.

Step 5: Insurance and Emergency Funds

  • Although you may have to make sacrifices to put aside money and buy policies, knowing you can financially weather a disaster can provide peace of mind.
  1. Check your homeowners' policy to see what coverage you already have.
  2. If your location may experience events not covered by your policy, such as floods or earthquakes, consider buying supplemental coverage.
  3. Take an inventory of your possessions to document their value. This list will help you if you need to file an insurance claim.
  4. Make sure your policy reflects the real replacement costs of your home and possessions.
  5. As you most likely will not have immediate access to your insurance, also set up an emergency fund.
    • An account at a financial institution with multiple branches means you'll have access to your money even if local banks are closed.

Conclusion

  • Although disasters are unlikely to strike, it's important to be prepared. With a little education and effort, your family can deal with any disaster that comes your way.

References

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