Guide to Preparedness Now - How to Get Started

Feeling overwhelmed?  Well that is normal.  The amount of info to assimilate can be daunting - making plans for food, water, shelter and safety. Relax.  Taking it "one step and at time" makes the process of preparedness manageable. 
 If an earthquake, hurricane, storm, or other emergency/disaster strikes your community, chances are good that you won't be able to buy food, water, and supplies.  Power (electricity and/or gas) may be turned off for days or even weeks.  You can't rely on outside help coming to the rescue right away.  You need to be self-sufficient in order to survive.  Keep in mind that although prepping may mean different things to different people, the basic steps of setting aside emergency food, water and supplies is basically the same.  
How will you survive?  Having a plan is the only way to make sure that you and your family know what to do and how to do it when disaster strikes.

   1.   Call your local emergency management  or Red Cross office to find out:
  • What types of disasters are most likely to happen here and how do I prepare for each of them?
  • What type of community warning signals exist and what should I do if I hear them?
  • What kinds of services are available to help elderly or others who have special needs if needed during a disaster?
  • Also, find out if your workplace, children's school or daycare center have emergency plans. If they don't suggest that they develop them.
   2.   Get together with the family to develop an emergency/disaster plan
  • Discuss with the family what disasters are most likely to happen and what to do in each case.  Plan ahead to share responsibilities and work together as a team.
  • Find the safe places in your home for each type of disaster.
  • Discuss what to do if the power goes out.
  • Discuss what you'll do in the event of an evacuation.
  • Take is a step further and meet with your neighborhood to talk about developing a neighborhood disaster plan.
   3.   Pick two emergency meeting places and make sure everyone knows where they are
  • One should be right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire.
  • The other should be outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home or are evacuated.
   4.   Develop an emergency communication plan.
  • Ask an out-of-state friend or family member to be your "family contact".
  • Make sure all family members have this person's name and telephone number.
  • After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Each family member should call this person to tell them where they are.
   5.   Stockpile emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
  • Keep enough supplies in your home & in your car to meet your needs for at least three days - A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won't spoil.

  • Donít forget non-food items, such as toilet paper, toothpaste, etc.

  • Buy a little extra each time you go to the grocery - buy sale items.

  • As with any stockpile of food, buy, then eat, then replinish, start over.   You don't want a stockpile of emergency food that is well beyond its expiration date.what youíll eat and then eat what you buy before the expiration date. One of the most important parts of storing food is making sure that you use it and replace it often so that you donít end up with a pantry full of wasted food.

  1. Water Ė Having an adequate water supply is more important than food. A person cannot go without 3 days of water so have a plentiful amount.  Disaster organizations stress for each person to have one gallon of water per day. In an emergency situation, it is also one of the first items to disappear off of a store shelf.  Having this stored in your 72 hour bag may be different. Therefore, many carry large water travel water bottles and then carry water purification tablets or a water filter to keep their load down.

  2. Food - Generally speaking, most government agencies suggest three days per family member and/or person as a minimum amount. When it comes to preparation, more is better.  With ample warning of an impending storm, you may have time to  pick up fresh produce and other items that have shorter shelf lives to supplement items in your emergency/disaster pantry.

  • Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items you may need in case of an evacuation.

  1. One change of clothing and sturdy footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping bag per person.
  2. A First Aid Kit that includes your family's prescription medications.
  3. Emergency tools like a battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
  4. An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler's checks.
  5. Sanitation supplies.
  6. Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
  7. An extra pair of glasses.
  8. Keep important family documents in a waterproof container.
  • Store these supplies in sturdy, clearly labeled, easy-to-carry containers, such as backpacks or duffel bags.

  • Buy NOAA Weather Radio with a tone-alert feature.   NOAA Weather Radio that has both a battery backup and a Specific Area Message Encoder (SAME) feature, which automatically alerts you when a watch or warning is issued for your county, giving you immediate information about a life-threatening situation.

   6.   Checklist of your readiness
  • Is your home and its contents are fully insured ESPECIALLY FOR FLOOD DAMAGE? Most homeowners policies do not cover floods!
  • Have you made two photocopies of vital documents Keep the originals in a safe deposit box and put one copy in your disaster kit and give the second copy to an out-of-town friend or relative. 
  • Have you done a complete inventory of your home, garage, and surrounding property to help you prove the ownership/value if possessions are damaged or lost? 
  1. Include information such as serial numbers, make and model numbers, physical descriptions, and price of purchases (receipts, if possible). 
  2. Take pictures of expensive items such as sofas, chairs, tables, beds, chests, wall units, and any other furniture too heavy to move.
  3. Then store a copy of the record somewhere away from home, such as in a safe deposit box. 
  • Have your posted emergency numbers by the phones and in your cell phones?
  • Do your children know when and how to dial 911.
  • Does each family member know when and how turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches?   [Turn off the utilities ONLY if told to do so by emergency officials or if you are sure the lines are damaged. If you turn the gas off, a professional MUST turn it back on to avoid the possibility of an explosion or gas leak.]
  • Have you installed smoke detectors properly - on each level of your home especially near bedrooms?
  • Do you have a fire extinguisher?  Does each family member know how to use a fire extinguisher?
  • Have you put together a Disaster Supplies Kit?
  • Have you taken a first-aid and CPR class?
  • Does every family member know two routes out of every room in your home?
  • What about animal care after disaster?  Do your have a plan where you would take your pets if you had to go to a public shelter where they are not permitted?
  • If you care for elderly or disabled persons, how can you help them?What might be some special needs to consider?
  • What are the disaster plans at your workplace, your childrenís school or day care center, and other places where members of your family spend time? 
   7.   Drill, Drill, and Drill some more
  • Ppractice and update your plan every six months.
  • Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
  • Test smoke detectors monthly and change batteries twice a year.
  • Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturers instructions.
  • Use the stored water in your Disaster Supplies Kit every three months and use or donate stored food every six months.
  • Replace stored water & food in your Disaster Supplies kits.

What if an emergency or catastrophic emergency/disaster never happens?   Well, that's the best case scenario.  Congratulations, you dodged a bullet, so to speak.  As a bonus, you have a well-stocked pantry from which to feed your family.

Guide to Preparedness Now

List of commonly used Prepper Acronyms & Terms

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