Sandy

Experiencing a natural disaster is something that most of us would rather not think about. Imagining the day that your family has no power, water or food is quite unpleasant, so many people choose to ignore the imminent threat until it is far too late.

With Hurricane Sandy decimating the shoreline of New York and New Jersey, perhaps you have decided that you can no longer look away and deny the likelihood of disaster. You will not be an ostrich with her head in the sand. You have decided to take proactive steps to make sure that your family is as prepared as possible in case of an emergency. Congratulations.

While FEMA and other government and charitable agencies will rush in after a disaster, the truth is that following an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, fire or flood – the first responders are the neighbors and people in your community. You are a first responder, and you are responsible for your family’s safety. A few basic precautions taken now could be a lifeline on that terrible day when disaster strikes.

Depending on where you live in the country, you’re most likely to face a hurricane (East Coast), earthquake (West Coast) or tornado (Great Plains). Experts all agree that for hurricanes and earthquakes, it’s not a matter of “if,” but rather “when.” While those facing hurricanes often have a warning of a week or more to prepare, other disasters such as earthquakes strike quickly and with no warning. So consider this your warning; prepare your home for disaster and sleep easier knowing that if your power goes out for 2 weeks, you can still feed your children.

1. Stock up on food. For basic survival, you need to stockpile a two-week supply of food for your household, including pets. Smart items to stock include protein bars, soup, noodles, tuna fish, peanut butter, juice, crackers and a few treats like chocolate bars. Yes, all these foods will go bad if not used in year or so – so mark the date on your calendar and use or replace your stockpile at that time. Or, donate your stockpile to a food kitchen and refresh every year – your new holiday tradition. Supplement your food stockpile with a propane camp stove (or learn to enjoy the taste of cold soup).

2. Stash a supply of water. If disaster strikes, water lines are often busted and unusable. Stash a two-week supply of bottled water at your home – that’s about a gallon a day for everyone in your family. You’ll need it for drinking, cooking and cleaning, so don’t skimp. Most bottled waters are fine to drink long after the date on the outside, just the taste is affected – so you are okay to save these bottles back for years.

3. Buy an emergency toilet. Those busted water lines mean that your toilet will not work – so where will you “go?” An emergency toilet is nothing more than a large 5-gallon bucket with lid, a few heavy-duty black trash bags and some cat litter. Stash it in the back of the closet and forget about it. Those big black trash bags will also come in handy when the garbage man doesn’t show up for weeks.

4. Stay connected and lit. A battery powered AM/FM radio can be a lifesaver when the electricity is out and your mobile phone service isn’t working. Buy it once, stash it back and don’t worry. You’ll also want a battery-powered source of light, such as a flashlight, headlamp or camp lantern – and remember the extra batteries.

5. Know your home. Do you know where to shut off the gas lines at your house? Do you know where the breaker box is, and where to find the water main? Locate these important control boxes are, learn how to shut them off and make sure everyone else in the house does too.

6. Get certified. If you have kids or loved ones living with you, getting certified in basic first aid and even CPR might one day save their lives. In the event of a big disaster, 911 may not show. Make sure you know basic emergency aid skills and maintain a fully stocked first aid kit at home.

7. Create a family disaster plan. When disaster strikes, you and your family may not be at home. Will you try to meet up at your home? Head to another family member’s house? Meet at a local gathering place? Establish clear rules so that everyone knows what to do in case of emergency.

8. Evacuate. Finally, if the government orders an evacuation, move yourself, your family and your pets to a safer place. No house or any other material possessions are worth your life.

 Dear friends: this article is meant to be an introduction to survival. Please supplement your survival preparation with further research, and encourage your friends and neighbors to think about their survival in case of a natural disaster:

http://www.redcross.org/

http://www.disaster-survival-resources.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Unthinkable-Survives-When-Disaster-Strikes/dp/0307352900

Image: Pam_Andrade