You should never assume that somebody else is going to step in and rescue you during an emergency. Being prepared for a disaster involves spending time well in advance on the obvious, but also giving consideration to tasks and items you might file under miscellaneous.
Store Adequate Food and Water: If you lose power for more than two hours, food inside your refrigerator will start to spoil. You should store an adequate amount of nonperishable food to last three days, according to FEMA experts. Stocking up is important, because your community may shut down entirely after a severe snow or ice storm. Experts recommend storing one gallon of water per person, per day—enough to last three to five days. This is essential for drinking, cooking, and bathing in case of an emergency.
Customize a First Aid Kit: Pack the basics including assorted sterile bandages and gauze pads, antiseptic, latex gloves, tweezers, scissors, soap, disposable hand wipes, and a thermometer. Furthermore, a first aid kit should also be customized based on family members’ health conditions, i.e., if somebody has asthma, it is important to pack an extra inhaler.
Create a Personal Network: It is vital to set up a network of friends and family members who can help you in an emergency. This should include at least one local and one out-of-town contact, because if a devastating weather system hits your area, you will need to rely on a friend or family member who lives out of town. Consider starting a Twitter account if you don’t have one—this can be a great way to communicate and send urgent messages for help.
Keep Cash on Hand: You have always been told how ill-advised it is to keep money under your mattress, right? Well, during an electronics systems outage, you may not be able to use your debit and credit cards. The cash under your mattress (or some other secret hiding place) will come in handy if you have to buy important items, or have to pay for services related to the emergency. It is recommended that you keep smaller bills on hand in case a business cannot break a $100 bill on the spot.
Digitize and Back Up Files: Save details of personal accounts, log-in information, and scanned documents ahead of time on a flash drive or hard drive back up, stored off site. If you own a business or work from home, digital files will be instrumental to resuming your business. You should also consider doing the same thing with family photographs. You can upload them to cloud-based sites like Shutterfly.com.
Prepare Your Car: You should store essential items in your car in order to be prepared for extreme weather conditions and natural disasters. Experts suggest packing extra clothes and blankets in case winter weather leaves you stranded. Kitty litter or sand can help free the car from snow and ice. Most importantly, never let your gas tank get below half-full—an emergency can cause traffic gridlock, which could feasibly drain your gas tank and leave you stranded.
Learn CPR and First Aid: Consider taking a class in basic CPR and first aid training, both of which are offered at low cost in most communities. This is probably not something most people would think about doing ahead of time, but many wish they had when disaster strikes. When lives are on the line, having these skills may transform you into a real-life hero. Knowing how to administer potentially lifesaving skills could prove vital to your family members, friends, or strangers during an emergency or disaster.
Plan for Your Pets: If you need to leave your residence, it is wise to create a contingency plan for your pets ahead of time. Research local animal shelters, boarding kennels, and inquire ahead of time if nearby hotels allow pets. Another option is to create a pet preparedness plan that relies on a trusted friend or family member who lives fairly close, but not in the same community.