If you had 10 minutes or less to evacuate your home, what would you take?
Most of us like to think we’d take photo albums, passports and important papers, maybe even the coin collection or artwork, but when disaster strikes, you don’t always have time to react in a rational manner or to go on a scavenger hunt looking for the deed to your house, marriage certificate or even photo albums. In most cases there’s just enough time to grab the kids and head for safe ground while fire or flood waters nip at your heels.
It’s always a good time to ask yourself: Am I or my family prepared for a disaster? Although the answer should be “yes,” more often it’s “probably not.”
And that needs to change. Wisconsin is ripe pickings for all kinds of natural disasters big and small. Tornadoes, torrential rainstorms and highway-closing blizzards routinely cross through the state. Grass fires, faulty wiring and frozen pipes can be disasters-in-the-making as well. A car crashing through your living room window is never expected, but it happens, leaving you displaced for at least a few days while repairs are made.
Make today the day you start putting a disaster kit and a disaster plan in place.
Start with an emergency kit that includes one gallon of water per person per day for three days along with a three-day supply of nonperishable food for each family member. Along with this, have ready a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a whistle to signal for help, dust masks, a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, and power inverter or solar charger for your cellphone.
Depending on your family’s needs, you might want to include prescriptions (at the very least a list of prescriptions), infant formula and diapers, pet food and cash. Place copies of important family documents such as insurance policies, identification and financial records in a waterproof, portable container that is kept near the escape route. Pencil and paper, paper cups and plates along with plastic utensils could be useful. And if you have kids, pack some games, books or puzzles.
Know in advance where you and your pets and/or livestock can go and who to contact in the case of an emergency. An out-of-town friend or relative is ideal as an emergency contact person, especially in instances when family members are at several locations – school, work, traveling – and normal communication channels are down. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to send and receive text messages. Consider downloading smart phone apps that provide emergency information.
Once your kit is prepared, you’re not done. Replace water and stored food every six months and mark the date on stored items. Rethink your family’s needs or requirements and make needed adjustments.
Need more tips? Check out ready.gov for emergency planning strategies for both home and business.
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