A natural disaster always seems like a far off possibility that is unlikely ever to affect you. However, according to WHO, natural disasters kill around 90,000 people and affect upwards of 160 million people worldwide each year.
A natural disaster could be a hurricane, earthquake, landslide, flood, wildfire, heatwave, and drought. Depending on where you live, you might be more susceptible to certain natural disasters and should prepare accordingly.
Luckily, our ability to track and predict weather conditions is better than ever. We usually know days in advance if a hurricane is going to hit, and which areas are more likely to be hit by a wildfire.
However, despite the advanced warnings, people are still not preparing sufficiently for these disasters, probably due to the faulty belief that it can’t actually affect them. But you should still make a plan, regardless of the likelihood of the event. To help you prepare, we have gathered together the top questions you should ask yourself.
- What disasters are most likely?
First, your natural disaster plan should include an assessment of what natural disasters are most likely. In California, it might be wildfires, drought, and earthquakes. In Florida or North Carolina, you might be more likely to be hit by hurricanes, while Oklahoma is more prone to tornadoes. Every state in the US can be affected by a natural disaster.
Accessing what sort of disasters are in your area can help you figure out a better disaster plan.
- What is your food supply situation?
FEMA recommends that every household has enough nonperishable food items and water to be able to survive at least three days. We’ve all seen the news reports of bare shelves at supermarkets and gas stations right before a hurricane or snowstorm— don’t wait until the disaster is at your doorstep.
Some items to stock up include:
- Canned meats, fruits, vegetables, and a can opener
- Protein bars
- Dry cereal or granola
- Peanut butter
- High-energy foods like nuts, trail mix, or dried fruit
- Food for infants
You should also know where the closest fresh water supply is and have a way to sterilize water, in case your electricity goes out and you cannot boil water.
- What is your disaster response plan?
Not only should you have a plan, but you should also write it down and go over it with every member of your family.
Your plan should cover:
- What resources might be ended and where they are
- The best evacuation routes from your city
- A safe place to meet up if something does happen
- What first aid supplies do you have?
It doesn’t matter what natural disaster happens, chances are pretty good that if you are in an emergency situation, you will have to do some first aid on someone. You should have an emergency disaster kit — which is separate from your everyday first aid kit — prepared in case of an emergency. Your kit should include bandages, creams, syringes, splints, and a suture kit. You should also add a week’s worth of prescription medicine if you or a family member need them. For families with infants, consider packing formula or diapers as well.
- How will you stay connected?
In a disaster, the power most likely will go off, at least for a few hours. Make sure you are prepared beforehand by purchasing a portable power supply. One good option is the NOAA Radio, which is multifunctional. It can warn you of any changing weather patterns, provide light, and you can charge your phone or other devices using the radio supply pack.
- How will you secure your home?
Something to consider before you evacuate is how best to secure your property. In the case of high winds, you should bring everything you can inside like umbrellas, lawn chairs, or tables.
Before you leave the house, leave a note on your table that includes the date you left, where you are going, and the best way to contact you. That way, if your family does get separated and a family member comes back to the house, they know where they can find you.
- What about your pets?
Your pet and livestock’s safety should also be considered. If possible, your pets should go with you, but if you are staying at an emergency shelter, your pets most likely will not be allowed to stay with you. If you have pets, you might want to have a friend or family member’s house as your evacuation destination.
While you may hope that a disaster never strikes, it is better to be prepared. By creating a solid plan and putting yourself in a better position, you also might be able to help your neighbors and friends. A little preparation goes a long way and can help you and your family survive a natural disaster.