Aug 22 2013 John general, Tips No Comments
Disaster Preparation, Disaster preparation checklist, emergency preparation checklist

I’m sure we all know about the disaster risks surrounding us. After all, if you grew up in Utah, you had several earthquake drills each year in school. We probably all know that any of us could have a fire, flood, or other catastrophe hit However, since there’s no imminent threat, we don’t invest much effort into disaster preparation.

Sooner or later most of us will experience a disaster on some level. Personally, I had a fire in my basement in 2005. This left me with a 6 month rebuild of my home and damages exceeding $250,000. Thank goodness for insurance. Here’s where I plug Allstate for how well they treated me.

Just last week, there were several wildfires in Utah, two which were within 40 miles of Salt Lake City.  They destroyed 20-30 homes and left hundreds of people evacuated for several days. While this may not be a realistic worry for someone living in the heart of the Salt Lake valley, it still prompted me to write this blog.

With that in mind, here are a variety of tips to help you prepare for a disaster in your home. Some will involve helping to avoid or mitigate a disaster, while others will revolve around a response plan.Disaster Preparation, Emergency preparation

  •  Disaster Preparation Tip #1

    • Invest some time and effort into an escape plan in the event of an emergency. Go room to room in your house and come up with at least 2 escape routes from each room. Write them down and practice them with your family. This will form the basis of your response plan.
  • Disaster Preparation Tip #2

    • Identify 2 meeting places for your family to gather in the event of an emergency. The first should be a safe location near your home. This will serve as the meeting place for an event isolated to your home, like a fire. The second needs to be outside of your immediate area, a safe gathering spot for a more widespread catastrophe. An example would be the parking lot of a local church or school. Your family should know this spot as the place to meet in the event communication systems aren’t available and your house or neighborhood is unsafe or impassible.
  • Disaster Preparation Tip #3

    • Pick two emergency contact people for your family to coordinate through in the event of an emergency. One should be local and able to give immediate assistance or shelter, and the other should be outside of your local area. The reason for the second contact is that in widespread emergencies, local systems may become overloaded, making it easier to contact someone outside the system. Make sure to get approval from these contacts, and make sure each member of your family has their information easily accessible. Consider marking them in your phones as “Disaster contact” and adding them to emergency call lists.
    • Train younger children to always contact the out of area emergency contact. If you have a localized emergency, you can always notify both contacts. This way young children do not need to remember any circumstantial information or extra contact information.
  • Disaster Preparation Tip #4

    • If you have pets, have a disaster plan specifically for them. Many shelters will not allow pets and none of us want to leave a pet to fend for themselves. Contact family and friends to make emergency shelter arrangements, ask your vet if they will house them, etc. The Red Cross has an entire section dedicated to animals on their site for more ideas.
  • Disaster Preparation Tip #5

    • Add a reminder to your calendar to go through your Disaster preparation info every 6 months. Use this time to:
      • Update important information such as phone numbers, medical information, etc.
      • Check emergency food supplies for spoilage.
      • Practice your evacuation drills. This means practicing for both localized and widespread emergencies. Drive your evacuation routes, and identify alternate routes in the event a road or path is impassible, etc.
      • Also test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as flashlights to ensure functionality.
  • Disaster Preparation Tip #6

    • Contact your children’s schools to get a copy of their emergency plans. Familiarize yourself with your work emergency plan and get a copy if possible. File these plans with your family Disaster Preparation Plan so that family members can coordinate efficiently.
  • Disaster Preparation Tip #7Disaster Preparation, Emergency preparation

    • Teach all your children how to dial 911. This has become even more important since so many of us no longer have home phones. It is important that a child understand how to operate your phone well enough to place an emergency call if necessary.
  • Disaster Preparation Tip #8

    • Prepare an emergency kit with supplies to care for your family for at least 3 days. Ideally, this should include food, water, first aid, flashlights, a battery powered radio, at least 1 change of clothes, and some basic tools.
    • This kit can be built over time to minimize cost. Keep a list of necessary items and watch for them to be on sale while you do your regular shopping. One thing to remember is as you collect food, look for items with a low sodium content. Salty foods make your body need more water, which could be scarce in the event of a natural disaster.  You should store at least 3 gallons of water per person in your family. Consider adding a mess kit and disposable plates, cups and utensils.
    • Build a good first aid kit to go with your emergency supplies. You never know who or what you may be treating in a disaster.
    • Keep all of these supplies together in a plastic storage container. Store in an area that will be easy to get to in an emergency. For example, just inside a garage door. Having them tucked in a dark corner of your basement may make them impossible to reach after an earthquake or flood.
  • Disaster Preparation Tip #9

    • In the event you do not have clean water and are unsure of the purity of available water, Bleach1filter water using one of these methods:
      • Strain water through a piece of cloth or coffee filter to remove any solid particles, then boil for at least 1 full minute.
      • Add 16 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of regular chlorine bleach to a gallon of water (see photo). Let stand for 30 minutes. If the water smells like chlorine, it is safe to drink. If not, add 16 more drops, wait 30 minutes, and smell it again. If it still does not smell like chlorine, discard and find another water source.
  • Disaster Preparation Tip #10

    • In the event of a disaster, you may be forced to turn off your utilities on your own. Familiarize yourself with the location of your water, electricity, and gas shutoff valves, and add the tools necessary to shut them off to your emergency kit. Teach any adult in your family how to handle this task.
  • Disaster Preparation Tip #11

    • Invest in a fireproof safe (as cheap as $20) for important documents such as birth certificates, financial information, wills, car titles, etc. Keep this safe in an area that is secure but still easy to get to.
    • For insurance purposes, add a list of valuable possessions to the safe. This list could also be kept digitally along with receipts or pictures for proof.


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