Disasters seldom come slowly, instead often hitting swiftly and many times taking people by surprise. While people may not be able to prevent natural disasters, there are things you can do to prepare yourself and your family for those circumstances, and help make a bad situation easier to deal with – and overcome.
Now is a great time to think about the kind of dangers that natural disasters can present and how planning in advance can help you offset some of the worst consequences you might face.
Whether the biggest dangers are wildfires in a dry year, flooding during a time with an overabundance of rain or the threat of sporadic hurricanes off the coast, there are things you can do before danger is imminent to help reduce risk to lives and property. Severe weather conditions are always a threat that people should be aware of and for which they should be ready. To avoid being caught off guard, you must first be prepared, then monitor local weather reports and be sure to pass that information along to others who either do not or cannot monitor the news and weather.
One of the best things you and your family can do to meet the challenges of a disaster is to make a plan well before you need to use it. That plan should include a communication strategy to help you get in touch with family, friends and neighbors in an emergency, evacuation routes in case you must quickly vacate your home and potential meeting places in case you become separated from loved ones.
It's important to have an emergency kit ready with supplies in case you either have to weather a storm in your home or quickly evacuate.
Learn how to assemble a disaster supply kit of important emergency supplies including a first aid kit, a (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) Weather Radio or battery-operated radio, flashlight, medication, non-perishable food items and bottled water. Each of these kits should have essential items to help you during an emergency.
Basic emergency kits, based on Texas Department of Public Safety guidelines, should include the following items:
- A three-day supply of bottled water (four quarts per day) for family members and others for whom you are responsible. Additional water will be needed for pets.
- A three-day supply of food (non-perishable items such as canned goods, as well as packaged items such as dried fruits, nuts, crackers, etc. Also, a supply of pet food, if needed.
- A can opener, pocket knife, eating utensils, cups, plates and bowls.
- A first aid kit and at least a 30-day supply of prescription drugs and extra glasses, contacts and contact solution.
- A whistle to signal for help.
- Dust masks.
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to secure shelters.
- A battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
- Tools, tape, plastic sheeting, signal flares and matches in a waterproof container.
- A fire extinguisher.
- Sanitation products such as moist towelettes, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, detergent, bleach and disinfectant.
- Clothes and bedding for each family member.
- Special items for babies, the elderly, disabled persons or others with special needs.
- Cash or traveler’s checks.
- Important documents to be kept in waterproof containers such as insurance policies, deeds, titles, stocks, birth certificates, passports, wills, immunization records, etc.
- If you have a pet, in addition to food, include a pet carrier or cage and leash.
- Garbage bags and plastic ties.
- Local maps.
- Emergency reference material, such as a first-aid book.
- A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Additional bedding if the weather is cold.
- Paper and pencil or pen.
- A complete change of clothing, including sturdy shoes.
- Games, puzzles and books for children.
These kits should be stored in a secure location and should be reviewed every six months to determine which items may need to be replaced.
More information on disaster planning can be found here. More information on emergency kits is available here.