When the weather outside is frightful, preparing for catastrophes can make things – if not delightful – tolerable and survivable. Disaster takes many forms. Hurricane, tornadoes and earthquakes make headlines, but a winter storm that immobilizes a community and knocks out power for a week or more can be just as dangerous.

Preparing for a hurricane isn’t much different for those on the Atlantic coast than preparing for an earthquake is for those living on the Pacific coast. Preparing for a catastrophe – whether tornado or terrorism – means being able to take care of yourself and your family for 72 hours.

Steps to preparing for a disaster include:

  • Know the risks.  Staying safe during a hurricane requires different action than staying safe during a tornado. Take time to learn the alert system in your community.
  • Pack an emergency preparedness kit that will meet the needs of you and your family for three days. An emergency preparedness kit needs to include food and water for each member of your family for three days, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight, spare batteries, first aid kit, can opener, toilet paper, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation. A complete list of recommended items for an emergency kit can be found at Ready.gov, FEMA’s emergency preparedness website.
  • Store emergency supplies in an easy-to-carry plastic storage container or duffel bag, making them easy to grab and go should local emergency management officials order an evacuation.
  • In addition to the essentials in the emergency preparedness kit, pack sleeping bags or blankets, paper towels, books, puzzles, board games and special foods that will make a stay in a shelter more comfortable.
  • Develop a family emergency plan so that each family member knows how to contact each other, where to go and what to do should the family not be together when disaster strikes. Perhaps everyone contacts the same out-of-town contact. Decide where you might meet for an evacuation.
  • Put together an emergency kit to keep in your car. Again, you don’t know where you might be when a disaster such an earthquake or terrorism attack may happen. The car emergency kit should include jumper cables, flashlights with extra batteries, first aid kit with essential prescription medications, sleeping bag, work gloves, water and food such as energy bars and canned nuts. Keep in mind your special needs. For example, stash formula and diapers if you have small children.
  • Prepare a smaller kit for work – supplies enough for 24 hours packed in a backpack you could grab if ordered to evacuate. Consider keeping a pair of comfortable walking shoes at work.
  • Plan for your pet. The emergency preparedness kit should include items for your pet such as food, bottled water, medications and a copy of veterinary records.

Have other tips for preparing for catastrophes? Leave us a note in the comments below.

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