World events remind us that disasters can happen anywhere. There was a devastating tsunami, which affected several countries. Two hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, wiped out many thousands of homes and businesses. In the Southwest, major forest fires claimed thousands of acres and homes. Tornadoes and flooding took place in the Midwest. Every day of the year, there are reports of fires in homes. These events remind us that everyone should prepare for any disaster or any type of emergency.
The first thing any resident should do is make sure they have a current renters’ insurance policy. Even a small fire in a residence can make a huge financial impact on a resident and the owner’s insurance will NOT cover it. Insurance cannot take away the inconvenience or devastation of a disaster, but it can make a large difference during re-building and recovery.
Everyone should have a disaster plan.
- Set up a communication system in the event of an emergency or disaster with special numbers to call and places to meet.
- Counsel children on what to do if they separate from adults and how they can seek help.
- Set up a home evacuation plan in the event of fire or flooding and make sure everyone in the residence knows what to do.
- Instruct everyone in the residence how to shut off major appliances such as gas or electrical to avoid making a disaster situation even worse.
- Plan what items are important to take with you if there is time to evacuate.
Keep supplies on hand. This can make a big difference when these events occur. Here are items to have around at all times:
- Plenty of bottled water and canned juice
- Non-perishable foods, particularly nutritious canned foods or in sealed containers
- Manual can opener
- Battery operated radio
- Battery operated flashlights
- Extra batteries for the radio and flashlights
- Storm candles and matches
- Fire extinguishers
- First aid kit
- Warm clothes
- Extra blankets or sleeping bags
- Wrench to turn off gas or water
- Buckets and containers
- Boots or heavy shoes
- Back up generator
During the emergency/disaster:
- Implement your disaster plan as soon as possible.
- Do not tie up telephone lines or waste valuable cellular battery time.
- Use a battery-operated radio for reports and do not tie up emergency services that needed elsewhere.
- Report your repair/maintenance problems as soon as possible, but remember that during an emergency it may take considerable time to receive repairs because true emergencies come first.
- Be patient – everyone is going through the same problems and a calm reasonable attitude will help you and everyone around you the most.
- Be helpful – assist people who need it whenever possible.
You cannot foresee the future. By planning now, it can make a big difference in how well you handle an emergency or disaster.