The U.S. has the most severe weather in the entire world, so it's likely that you'll experience your fair share of storms in your lifetime. But a simple thunderstorm can quickly escalate into a life-threatening situation, so it's important that you're prepared. Here's what you need to know about preparing for severe weather so that you can keep your loved ones and pets safe.
Knowledge is power, so bookmark sites such as FEMA and NOAA so that you can stay up-to-date with current weather-related news. While there's nothing wrong with watching your local news, these organizations are dedicated to helping individuals before, during and after severe weather occurs, so you'll have peace of mind knowing the information you're receiving is completely accurate.
Create A Plan
Ready.gov is a great resource to help you create a plan well in advance of a severe storm. Consider the specific needs of your household (seniors, babies, pets, medical and dietary needs, disabilities, etc.) so you can tailor your plan accordingly. Next, fill out a family emergency plan that includes important phone numbers and email addresses and out-of-town contact who can help make phone calls if lines are busy, emergency meeting places if you're not together when the storm hits and a designated shelter area within your home.
Prepare A Disaster Supply Kit
Don't wait until the storm is brewing to put together an emergency disaster kit. You should have one packed and ready to go so you can access it at a moment's notice. Important items to include are:
● A three-day supply of non-perishable food per person
● Can opener
● One gallon of water per person per day
● Battery-powered radio and NOAA Weather Radio with an alert system
● First aid kit
● Baby necessities, if applicable
● Moist towelettes
● Garbage bags
● Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
● Dust masks
● Sleeping bags and blankets
● Extra clothing
● Rain gear
● Mess kits for easy eating
● Candles and matches
● Copies of important family documents in a waterproof container
Prepare Your Home
There are some simple home preparations you should make to protect your property and loved ones. For example, clear dead tree limbs and trim the branches to prevent broken windows. Secure fences and furniture (or store in the garage) so they aren't tossed into your home. Make sure your gutters are regularly cleaned to prevent water damage and consider putting up temporary protection such as shutters or plywood to protect your windows. Don't forget to place any mementos or valuable in waterproof containers.
Keep The Kids Entertained
A severe storm coupled with a power outage can last for days, so make sure you have plenty of activities on-hand that don't require electricity. For example, engage your kids with games such as a DIY scavenger hunt, storytelling, craft projects, playing an instrument and good old-fashioned entertainment such as card and board games.
Provide Comfort For Pets
Prepare a separate disaster kit for your pet that includes three to seven days worth of canned or dry food (keep an eye on the dates), feeding dishes, a week's worth of bottled water, chew toys, disposable litter trays with scoopable litter, leash, collar, blankets, bed, cage or carrier, toys and disinfectant. Try consoling and playing with your pet in an effort to distract them.
Even with the best preparations and regular drills, there can be a scenario that catches you off guard. Do your best to stay calm in any situation so that you can provide aid to others. Make sure you're regularly reviewing your plan in case you need to update the contact information.
Bradley Davis is a retired firefighter and SoCal resident. He has seen his fair share of natural disasters and knows all too well the damage they can cause when people in their paths aren’t prepared. He created DisasterWeb.net to share his emergency preparedness knowledge and to offer the many emergency planning and natural disaster-related resources he has compiled from his online research. When he isn’t adding new information to his site, Bradley enjoys relaxing on the beach with his wife.