With the recent damage caused by hurricane Sandy, alot of people are now thinking more about how to prepare for a disaster. Many believe that the number of severe storms, earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters are on the rise; either because of global warming, solar activity, or man made causes. Whatever the cause may be, and if they are increasing or not is not as important as simply being prepared when something does happen. Planning for a disaster can help make even occasional power outages, and bad weather much easier to deal with.

The first steps in planning and preparing for a disaster is to understand what you are preparing for. In a disaster almost anything could potentially happen, and planning for every single thing that could happen is impossible. So you must understand and learn what disasters are most likely to happen in your area, and what happens during them.

Research your geographic area

Learn about what has happened in the past in your area. Is it prone to flooding, what are the flood areas, how has your region handled floods before? Ask these kinds of questions about all sorts of disasters, blizzards, earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes, hurricanes, droughts, and don’t forget man made issues like terrorist attacks. You need to understand what is most likely in your area and how well your local authorities can respond to the situations. If they are historically poor to respond then you should expect that and prepare to have to take care of yourself for a period of time.

Through this research you will find out things such as what areas to avoid, how often trees fall over into the roads, and even resources that you might be able to use when a disaster does strike. Be sure to check with authorities on what resources they have available and what they are planning for. Next talk with your neighbors and friends in the area, find out what they have experienced; you might be surprised at what they tell you and at the same time make a bond with them. You never know when your neighbor might be able to help you, or vice versa.

Action Plan

Now that you know what is most likely to occur in your area, you can now plan for it. With that information you can develop an action plan for yourself and your family. This is something you have to think hard about and discuss with them, trying to make decisions at the last minute will only upset everyone and make things hectic at best. For example, knowing that your area is prone to flooding you will want your plan to include the likely hood of having to leave your home and belongings behind. The result of that is you are going to need to put less resources into staying put, and more into being more mobile. Where on the other hand if you are on high ground and experience long power outages you might focus more on staying put, and having your home ready to produce resources you might need.

Make sure your action plan addresses the following:

  • Pre-Disaster preparations – What you can do to improve your house, car, and property to protect it and yourself
  • Communication between family members and the outside world
  • Gathering food and water after the disaster
  • Evacuation plans
  • Taking care and handling of pets
  • Medical conditions and needs

Keep all those issues and goals in mind when developing your plan and you will develop a solid plan for you and your family, and prevent (or at least minimize) confusion in the time occurs.

Gather Resources

Now that you have your plan figured out, now you can focus on gathering everything you need to make those plans work. Like mentioned before, you want to make sure what you are gathering and spending money on is what you will use. If your plan involves you leaving town, then there is no real point to pouring money into improving your house and property just to leave it all behind. On the other hand you don’t want to completely disregard that you might have to stay at home as well. The key here is balance and planning smartly; keep the resources you gather as flexible as possible and know their weaknesses.

Good suggestions for things to gather up and have on hand:

  • 72 hour survival kits for each member of your family (Check our article here on what to include a survival kit)
  • A survival kit in each of your vehicles (you may get stranded inside your car during a disaster)
  • Food and water on hand (access to stores could be limited or they could be out of stock)
  • Heating and cooking supplies
  • Ways to charge electronics for the long term
  • Radio and communications gear (So you can get information on rescue efforts as well as communicate that you need help if you need to)
  • Change of clothing (Don’t pack too much only a day or two at the most)

Don’t forget things for your house as well, such as storm windows, repairs, and improvements that may help it last through the disaster if you are planning to stick around. Things like solar panels, sump pumps, and even boards or wood to cover windows and doors. Even if you plan to leave your house, a little bit of protection for it could mean the difference to coming back to your house with little damage, or worse.

Training

Finally, once you have your plan and your gear you need to know how to use it.  Rehearsing your evacuation plan is key so everyone knows where to go and how to escape from a situation. However folks often overlook just how to use their equipment, they purchase a bunch of things, and have little to no idea how to use them. All the gear in the world is useless unless you know how to use it. A little bit of training goes a long way, because when you need to use it seconds will often count.

Look at getting trained and skilled in several areas, our suggestions are as follows:

  • First Aid
  • HAM Radio usage (For communication with radio systems to the outside world)
  • Firearms and defense training (People may be rioting, or in a very bad situation you may need to hunt for food as well)
  • Any hiking and survival skills you can pick up such as building a fire, and learning about harmful plants
  • Mechanical and automotive skills (Your car may break down or have trouble during a disaster)
  • Swimming and climbing

All of these are excellent skills to have, even if you obtain only a limited basic knowledge of them it will be better than nothing at all. You don’t need to be able to rebuild your car’s engine, but knowing how to fix a flat tire, jump start it, and basic maintenance can go a long way to getting you out of situation.

Obviously this is not an all inclusive list, but it is a very good start and a general guideline for helping you plan and prepare for whatever disaster may come your way. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and that certainly applies when planning for a disaster.

 

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