When natural disasters comes to your town, what do you do? Most people aren’t prepared. And, because of that, they’ll suffer catastrophic losses and be totally blindsided by the fact that they don’t have electricity, clean water, and probably food. Here’s how you can prepare yourself so you’re not caught out in the unprepared.
Planning For Any Disaster
You’ll see common preparedness tips for every type of natural disaster, which is why a disaster preparedness plan makes sense. Most natural disasters will knock out, or limit access to, essential services. Services like police, fire, and rescue, but also services like food, water, and shelter.
You should be familiar with a disaster before it strikes. Because once it does strike, the only thing you can do is “press play” and carry out whatever plan you have in place. For most people, a basic survival plan includes a “bug out bag” or a “bug in bag,” which includes basic safety supplies, 3 ways to make a fire (including waterproof matches), waterproof clothing, a rain slicker, some food (freeze-dried or canned with a can opener), and a first-aid kit.
You will also want some basic tools like a hatchet, pick, walkie-talkies, and multi-tool. You need enough materials so you could survive for at least 72 hours alone, if you had to. If you want extra protection, give yourself a week’s worth of supplies and stock 2 of everything.
Preparing For An Earthquake
This is one of the hardest things to do, because of the nature of the disaster. If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, you already know. If you’re not sure, use the Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program and the U.S. Geological Survey to map out where the high risk areas are. The USGS also uses a live map so you can see up-to-the minute activity.
There’s nothing you can do to avoid a quake, but you can give your home an earthquake checkup. Check for disasters, fasten shelves to the wall studs, and store anything breakable in a safe place. Store poisons in cabinets that latch shut. Put heavy objects on low shelves and secure heavy furniture. Practice earthquake drills with your family.
The most important thing you can do is get underneath something sturdy and find an open space. Most deaths caused by earthquakes come from flying debris and falling objects. Collapsing structures and walls are also dangerous. Your first priority is to minimize personal injury. Finally, avoid damaged or falling structures.
Preparing For Hurricanes
Like tornadoes, hurricanes produce very severe and fast winds that are damaging to people, buildings, vehicles, and the natural environment. The benefit is we often see them coming from many miles away and have technologies to detect them easily.
Hurricanes bring on flooding, fires, and other secondary disasters. They also bring on sustained winds and rain. Board up the windows and doors with plywood, install storm shutters, and secure your roof and siding. Bring in outdoor furniture.
Check the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood map database. If you have to evacuate, shut off your utilities, including the main power switch. Check with the local authorities about a main evacuation route, and practice it with your family.
Hunker down and evacuate when ordered to do so. Even weak hurricanes can kill. And when it’s all done, flooding cleanup may not be completed for days, meaning you’re stranded in a flooded area.
So, it’s usually best to evacuate, since rescue may not be able to get to you in time, and you won’t have anywhere to escape to.
Planning For A Tornado
A tornado can come on fast and be quite unpredictable. Tornados don’t just happen in the Midwest either. They can happen in the south, north, and west — basically anywhere in the U.S.
Anywhere a thunderstorm can form, a tornado can too. The amount of concentrates damage they cause is astonishing. Like most storms, the best way to handle one is get out of the way.
You can’t really prepare your home for a tornado, since they’re so damaging. Some homes are built to withstand tornado winds, and are protected by special shutters and siding, but even then there are no guarantees that the tornado wouldn’t destroy everything.
Tornadoes are accompanied by strong winds and storms. The wind might pick up for a while and then suddenly die down. Watch the sky. It will get dark and suddenly, you might hear a loud rushing sound, like a roar. Be on the lookout for clouds that rotate in a circular pattern. They strike quickly, and the trademark funnel cloud is a good sign but may not appear until debris is already picked up.
Listen to NOAA emergency Weather Radio, because severe storms will be reported here first. Listen for emergency broadcasts if conditions look right for a tornado. If one strikes, stay low and get to a place in the basement. Ideally, you will be on the lowest level of your home. If you’re in a highrise, try to get down to the lowest level quickly.
But, stay away from windows and outside walls. If you’re in a vehicle, this might seem scary but get out of it. Vehicles can be picked up and flung very easily by tornadoes. Get out and lay face down in a ditch or a very low area. Stay away from bridges and underpasses as the wind can be very harsh under them.
Charlie Lucas lives in a flood zone and has seen his beloved home, and possessions, destroyed by flood waters once already – He takes every measure he can so it doesn’t happen again and warns others too.