When disaster strikes: Have a plan

9-item checklist for emergency preparedness

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Feb. 28, 2012

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9-item checklist for emergency preparedness

Bernice Ross
Inman News®

It has been almost one year since the anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, and those horrific events offer a stark reminder about the urgent importance of preparedness.

You should always plan ahead for emergencies, big and small, that could rock your business and your personal life. If you don't yet have a plan, don't let another day pass without one.

One of my dearest friends used to always say, "Pray for sunshine, be prepared for rain." Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, most of us have a tendency to put off preparing for the rainy day.

The challenge with most emergencies is that we simply don't see them coming and, as a result, aren't really well prepared for coping with them.

For example, when I lived in Los Angeles, I was evacuated from my home twice due to brush fires. I also lived through three major earthquakes, including the 1994 Northridge earthquake, where the epicenter was just six miles from the college where I taught.

Last summer, we thought we were going to have to evacuate here in Austin due to the Steiner Ranch fire. I wasn't prepared, and was frantically shooting a quick video of our home's contents as the ashes landed on our roof and back patio.

The people who lived in Steiner were evacuated with just the clothes on their backs.

Read through the list below and see how ready you are for a major emergency. For any items that you lack, why not address them now instead of putting it off? A fire or other disaster can strike at any time.

Disaster preparedness checklist

1. Enough food and water for at least three days for an emergency evacuation, or two weeks' worth of food and water if you are confined to your home.

The Red Cross recommends at least one gallon of water per day per person, and easy-to-prepare food items that do not require refrigeration. Canned goods, dehydrated fruits, nuts and vacuum-packed foods are good choices.

Also, be sure to remember baby formula, bottles or any other special needs anyone in your household may have. Stock up now. If you don't use the food, you can give it to your local food bank and take a tax deduction.

Furthermore, be sure you have knives, a pair of scissors, and an old-fashioned can opener that doesn't require electricity. Don't forget to include eating utensils for each person.

2. At least $500 to $1,000 of cash on hand in case you are unable to access an ATM and have to evacuate to a safer area.

If the power is out, chances are that your Internet service may be down, as well. This means that your credit cards and your local ATM will probably not be working. Even if food and other supplies are available after the disaster, you may have to pay cash.

3. A first-aid kit, medications, and personal hygiene items for each member of your household. A smart way to prepare these items is to pack a backpack for each member of your household, including your pets.

If someone in your household requires refrigerated medications, make sure you have an ice chest with cold packs ready to go. Be sure to include glasses, hearing aids, contact lenses and solution, syringes, and any other necessity. For children, include games and activities to keep them occupied.

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