Home Emergency
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Preparing Your Home for an Emergency

A little over a year ago my family and I experienced a near disaster. An F3 tornado had been sighted a few miles from our home and was supposedly headed towards us. My wife was very nervous, but we tried to stay calm so that our daughter wouldn’t become too alarmed. She was already a little freaked out just from watching the news. We went down into the basement and waited. While there, I realized that we’d never planned for this, never even discussed it. I almost couldn’t believe it because I’m usually prepared. Luckily, the tornado somehow turned north before it got to us. Since then I’ve been adamant about having the right supplies and plans in case of a disaster like the one that we nearly experienced.

Disaster Supplies Kit

No matter what the emergency, a disaster supplies kit can’t be undervalued. A survival kit is an assemblage of important supplies that will help you once the disaster has passed. According to Ready.gov, a national PSA campaign designed to educate and prepare people for emergencies, your disaster supplies kit needs to have enough supplies for at least 72 hours. A basic kit needs to contain food, water, and first aid supplies. While those are the most basic requirements consider adding things like blankets, and a hand-cranked radio, cell phone chargers, and anything else you think would be helpful.

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Types of Emergencies and Disasters

There are four different emergency situations every home should be prepared for: tornados, floods, earthquakes, and home fires. There are more scenarios out there, but these are the most common, so unless you have a specific situation you’ll be fine just planning for these four.  Depending on where you live you’re more likely to experience one than the other but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for all of them. After my scare with the tornado, I have prepared my home and made up a plan for all four situations.

  • Earthquakes

You might think that where you live is not affected by earthquakes, but you’d be wrong. All 50 states experience earthquakes. Before an earthquake occurs, prepare your home. Remove heavy items from high places in your home and check hanging light fixtures and make sure that they will not fall in the event of a quake. Secure appliances like refrigerators so they won’t tip over, and install flexible pipes so that the pipes going from appliances to sewer systems or gas lines won’t be disrupted. Once your house is secure, identify a few places that will be good to go if a quake hits. A sturdy table is usually your best option. Doorways were touted as suitable places but they’re actually not any more structurally sound than the rest of your house. And as always, have a disaster supplies kit available to you for when the quake passes.

  • Tornados

Many people think that if they don’t live in the Midwestern states known as tornado alley that they don’t need to worry about tornados. Tornados have occurred in every state, although it’s true that some states rarely see them. On average the United States sees over 1,000 tornados each year. In order to be ready for a tornado, you need a few things: a weather radio so you know where the storm is—preferably a hand crank radio so it can’t run out of batteries, a disaster supplies kit, and a safe place to wait out the tornado. Basements work best, but if you don’t have a basement get to the lowest level and find a small room that has no windows or outside walls.

  • Floods

Floods are extremely common in many parts of the United States. According to Ready.gov, anywhere that rains can flood. To prepare for a flood you need the following: a disaster supplies kit, a location to move to, and a plan for your family. Remember you need at least three days-worth of supplies in your disaster kit. The location you are going to should be high ground and preferably an indoor location. Talk with friends and relatives about being able to say at their place in the event of a flood, and discuss your plan and options with your family. If you’re driving, be wary of how much water is on the road. Just six inches of water can cause loss of control in most vehicles. A foot of water floats many vehicles, and two feet of water can carry away most vehicles, SUVs and pickup trucks included. Drive slowly and take main roads where rescue crews and other authorizes will see you if you get into some trouble.

  • Home Fires

Home fires happen all the time and they are the leading cause of fatal home injury. About 65% of house fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. If you do nothing else, make sure you have at least one working smoke alarm in your house. Modern smoke alarms are great: they can be hardwired into your wall and only have a backup battery which means you won’t have to replace the batteries as often. Still, you should check the batteries every year. These alarms are often both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors rolled into one, which will warn you of any gas leaks as well as fire or smoke. Make sure that the smoke alarms you install have ionization and photoelectric detectors. These two different detectors warn you of different types of fires. Finally, determine an evacuation plan. Your plan should have multiple ways to exit your home and a designated spot a safe distance away for you and your family to meet up. Draw up a plan, show your family, and stick to it.

Everyone’s home is different. For more information visit The Red Cross, the CDC, or Ready.gov.

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