Prepare your family for disaster in less than a day

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Every year as death tolls from natural disasters rise, I find myself wondering what the three of us would do if mayhem struck. Would we be ready? Honestly, probably not (is anyone ever truly ready?), but it seems that with the addition of The Bug, I need to know we’re as prepared as possible.

This year, it looks like the federal government agrees, because it’s encouraging families to “Resolve t be ready in 2014.” Just browsing through the site can be overwhelming, so here’s a few quick and easy things you can do in less than a day.

Emergency kits: A basic emergency kit should include enough supplies, water and food for at least 72 hours. Keep in mind situations specific to your family such as infants, children or people with special needs, medications or limits to mobility. Each kit should have at least one gallon of water per person per day, a radio with extra batteries if needed, a flashlight, first aid kit, local maps (print them from home to make it easy), a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, and personal hygiene items. It’s probably all stuff you already have on hand, or can easily purchase at a local box store. Make sure babies have formula, diapers and wet wipes too. FEMA has a list of recommended supplies, you can look into buying complete kits online or search Pinterest, which is loaded with ideas.

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Important documents: All of our documents or copies of important documents are in a binder. It includes health information – allergies, medications, pre-existing conditions, etc., photos of all of us and our dog (hey, he’s family too). There’s copies of birth certificates, shot records, marriage licenses and information on who to contact. We just used a binder with a few plastic sheet protectors, but there’s plenty of templates out there to use as well. 

Practice: When I was a kid, the threat of a major earthquake was very real so regularly had drill where we’d spent 20-25 minutes under desks and in door jams. I slept through the great Loma Prieta quake of ’89 in San Francisco, but I know I may not always be so lucky. So, practice. Have a place you’re all going to meet, and talk with your kids about how to contact the authorities if need be. Make sure they know where to go in an earthquake vs. a tornado. What do they do if the power goes out for an extended period of time and it’s the dead of winter? What if there’s a fire or a flood? Don’t want to scare them? Keep information age-appropriate and check out this list of resources.

Do you talk with your kids about what to do in various emergency situations? Do you have emergency kits? What did you include?