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Blog/Opinion: Putting Worry Into Action: Preparing for Disasters

By HHI Staff

While we don't like to be pessimists, the recent 9.0 earthquake in Japan may have us wondering if and when a disaster could strike close to home. Depending on your area, you may be prone to certain disasters more than others. Some disasters can happen no matter where you live such as home fires, power outages, flooding, or lightning damage. Therefore, preparation is key to keeping your family safe.

Start with the Necessities
Clean water is often the most pressing need after a disaster. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends having a three-day supply for each person in a household, a gallon per person, per day (e.g., for a family of four, a total of 12 gallons). They recommend you replace your stored water every six months.


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FEMA also recommends having a three-day supply of food. Some of the food choices they recommend include:

  • Foods that won't make you thirsty such as salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals, and canned foods with high liquid content.
  • Canned foods, dry mixes, and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water, or special preparation (note: be sure to include a manual can opener).
  • Foods for those with special dietary needs

In Power Outage and Emergency Tips, Laura Dellutri recommends including comfort food in your disaster kit. She also recommends setting a family meeting place or a designated place other than your home.

Where do you go? If you must leave town, FEMA recommends planning accommodations with family or friends, or at commercial lodging. If disaster strikes fast, they suggest “staying in a mass care facility operated by disaster relief groups in conjunction with local authorities.”

FEMA also advises stocking “special needs items, such as prescription medications, eye glasses, contact lens solutions, and hearing aid batteries.” These things are harder to replace so they are important to keep handy in a disaster kit.

Invest in Protection
If you know your area is prone to certain disasters, preparing for those specific ones will be practical. One way is to make sure your insurance covers those disasters. For instance, FEMA recommends considering flood insurance if your area is prone to flooding. They also advise creating an inventory of home possessions for insurance purposes.

Another practical action to take for any area is to install smoke detectors. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “Almost two-thirds of reported home fire deaths in 2003-2006 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.” So it is important to not only install smoke alarms, but also maintain them. The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) suggests about every six months to take time to clean and change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, perhaps when changing to Daylight Savings Time and again when switching back to Standard Time.
The Importance of Being Prepared
While we can't control the wake of natural disasters, we can make sure our homes and vehicles are equipped for when a disaster strikes. Don't wait to implement these steps. Waiting may come at the cost of your family's safety.

For more information:

Disaster Preparedness
Earthquakes: 8 Ways to Prepare for Nature's Fury



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Putting Worry Into Action: Preparing for Disasters:  Created on March 23rd, 2011.  Last Modified on March 25th, 2011


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