5 Essential Tips for Disaster Preparedness

When it comes to natural disasters, probably everyone is thinking of Hurricane Harvey and its destruction in and around Houston. In addition to that devastation, there are also wildfires raging in southern California and Montana (hundreds of people have had to evacuate). Aside from those terrible disasters, most people don't spend much time thinking about chemical spills, blizzards, tornados, riots, or terrorist attacks.

Now that I have your attention, are you taking steps to protect yourself and family in the wake of a disaster?

In some cases (as with hurricanes), we can be notified days in advance and respond accordingly. (Having actually lived through a hurricane once before, I strongly urge people to evacuate well before one hits.) In other instances (tornado touching down), there is very little warning. With a terrorist attack, there is no warning.

In a disaster you may face loss of electricity and water for just days, or it may be something catastrophic (like Hurricane Katrina or Harvey) and there will tremendous loss of emergency services and possibly even loss of life. Are you doing what you can to prepare for such disasters?

While we cannot prepare for every single possible situation, we can plan and gather supplies NOW while there is time in order to lessen our suffering in the future. Here are a few things to consider, some supplies to gather, and plans to make.

1. Know the rule of three.

Do you have supplies on hand in your home or car to survive for three days? If you had to shelter in place in your home, and there was no electricity and the water was cut off (or contaminated), would you have enough right now to take care of yourself and your family for the next three days?

Most people would laugh and tell me, "Of course I would! We have plenty of food in the fridge and pantry." Great. But how about clean drinking water? Remember, the water is now contaminated and you have no electricity. So you can't boil water on your electric stove. What will you do? (Hint: You can drain the water out of your hot water tank, but you still probably want to boil it. Do you have a way to purify the water without using electricity?)

If you are away from home, do you have supplies in your office or car that can keep you going for the next three days, or until help arrives? You need to think about that now ... not when the disaster strikes.

Once you get that issue settled, then ask if you have enough supplies to survive for three weeks. Then think about what it would take to survive for three months.