Are You Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

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The chances are that you are not….most Americans are not prepared. The task is not too daunting as you think. We found these useful article By Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D. from Parents Magazine which we think will help you.

Step One: Create a Communication Plan

  • Teach your child one parent’s cell-phone number or a good contact number. Starting at around age 5, kids are developmentally ready to memorize a 7- or 10-digit number. Practice with your child and turn the phone number into a song, like a modified version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
  • Designate an out-of-state contact. This will be a resource and point person for your family to call.
  • Choose a location other than your home where your family can meet. You’ll need to go there in case of a fire or an earthquake, for example. Your meeting place might be a local park, school, or shelter. Walk to the site with your child so he knows exactly how to get there.
  • Designate a trusted friend or family member who can pick up your kid at child care or school if you are unable to get there in a disaster situation. Be sure that you give official permission to release your child to that person.
  • Make a card with your plan for each adult’s wallet. Include contact names, your emergency location, and the out-of-state contact number. Put a copy in your school-age child’s backpack, and discuss the plan with your kids.
  • Inform caregivers and nearby relatives of your plan. Be sure to give a copy of your plan to your child’s teacher too.
  • Write a letter for your child to have in case of an emergency and leave it with child care or school. I found this to be especially difficult, but I did it and you can too. If you’re ever separated from your child, you’ll both be comforted.
  • If you’re not good at texting, improve your skills. When cell- phone signal strength goes down, texting often still works because it uses less bandwidth and network capacity.

Step Two: Assemble a Kit

  • If you can afford a premade three-day emergency kit, buy it. Order online from the American Red Cross (from $50; redcrossstore.org). Kits have food, water, light sticks, a poncho, a breathing mask, and other supplies. It’s only enough for one person, and it won’t contain everything I suggest below, but it’s a good start.
  • Gather the rest of your supplies. See “What Goes in Your Emergency Kit
  • Purchase 20-gallon plastic containers with lids to store all your emergency gear. If you have limited space, consider buying containers that fit under your bed.
  • Make some “refresh” cards. That is, keep a list taped to the top of each box in your emergency kit that details which items need to be replenished, or which info needs updating, and when. For example, some of the food I bought expires in 2012. It’s all on my refresh card. Put a reminder in your phone or on your family calendar that tells you to check your refresh card and revise your kit as needed.
  • Stash some cash. I suggest you have $150 or more ready in case of emergency (but any amount is better than nothing). And no “borrowing” from the emergency kit when you’re short of cash! Leave it alone so it’s available if you ever need it.
  • Determine where to keep the kit. A garage or a lower level near a door is ideal. If you live in an apartment, maybe there’s a common area with storage that you can use.

Step Three: Know Your Neighborhood

Look into how at-risk your own area may be, suggests Jeffrey Upperman, M.D., a pediatric surgeon who heads the trauma center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Contact your local fire department and school to inquire about specific threats to your neighborhood such as unstable trees, streets prone to flooding, or transportation challenges.

After gathering that info, it’s essential to figure out how your neighbors can work together in the event of an emergency, says Dr. Upperman. For example, if you’re a nurse or a teacher, you may have a comprehensive first-aid kit available, and if a carpenter lives on your street, he might have tools or equipment that would be useful in an emergency. Pool your expertise and resources! It will ultimately save lives. This is one part of my plan that I still need to improve; we recently moved and I don’t know many of my neighbors yet. So I’m right there with you working on it.

For more information from this article click here. There is a list of items that should be kept in your emergency kit also.

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