Life can change on a dime. While you can take steps to help prevent traumatic situations such as burglary or fire from occurring in your home, some events are unavoidable. Fortunately, you can reduce the risk of injuries, property damage and added stress during a crisis by creating an emergency preparedness plan with these tips:
With today’s weather and storm tracking radar, tornadoes don’t sneak up on us as often as they once did. But tornadoes can turn deadly in seconds, so it’s important to tune into radio or television forecasts to know how and when to take shelter.
Newscasts often use two terms to classify the level of danger to a city: “watch” or “warning.” A tornado watch is issued if a tornado is possible or is occurring nearby. During this time, go over your family’s plan and be ready to take shelter if necessary. A tornado warning will be put into effect if a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. A warning means it is imperative to take shelter immediately.
The best places in your home to take cover during a tornado are in a basement, storm cellar, or a room on the lowest floor without windows, such as a center hallway, bathroom or closet. For additional protection, get under a heavy table or bench and cover your body and head with a blanket, sleeping bag or mattress.
The American Red Cross offers additional tips for preparing and how to respond during tornadoes.
Living without power for a few hours is inconvenient, yet manageable. However, when electricity at your home is off for a several days or weeks, having an emergency kit is essential. Here are a few items that will keep your family safe and comfortable while roughing it in the dark:
- One gallon of water per person, per day.
- Non-perishable food items that are easy to prepare.
- Flashlights and extra batteries.
- A battery-powered or hand-crank radio.
- First-aid kit.
- Seven-day supply of medications, if applicable.
- Multipurpose tools.
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items.
- Copies of personal documents and emergency contact information.
- Battery-powered cell phone charger.
- Back-up power for life-sustaining equipment if necessary.
While your home may not be located in a high-risk flood area, remember that a flood can occur anywhere it rains. Here are a few things to know about preparing for a flood.
Flood alerts are issued based on urgency, so it’s important to understand the differences. A flood is the result of a prolonged rain event, lake overflow or dam failure, while a flash flood occurs more quickly after heavy rainfall. Similar to tornadoes, a flood watch indicates that flooding is possible and a warning means that flooding is currently transpiring in your area.
You can protect your family by developing a flood safety plan and practicing it often. Your plan should include:
- A flood evacuation route.
- A checklist of things to do before an evacuation, such as turning off electrical and gas power; securing unstable items in and outside of your home; and packing identification documents for each family member in a waterproof bag or container.
- Emergency kits equipped with food, water, personal hygiene items, clothing and first aid.
- A designated family member who lives in a separate area who can serve as a point of contact.
- A safe place to go in case an evacuation is ordered.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more information on staying safe before, during and after a flood.
Although the chance of wildfires decreases dramatically with the end of summer, it’s always good to review your emergency plan if you live in an area that is susceptible to these events. Each year, hundreds of thousands of wildfires consume 4 to 5 million acres of land and destroy nearly everything in their paths. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends these tips:
Design your home with safety in mind. Select noncombustible building materials and landscape your property with fire-resistant plants.
Create a safety zone by keeping areas within 100 feet of your home clear of flammable vegetation, firewood or combustible materials.
Be fire-smart at home by regularly cleaning your roof and gutters; inspecting your chimneys twice a year; installing smoke alarms throughout your home; teaching family members how to operate a fire extinguisher; and having regular fire drills with your family to teach them how to escape in the event of a fire.