With disasters like Hurricanes Irma and Harvey in the not-too-distant past, one thing has become abundantly clear: planning for disasters is never a bad idea.
Countless Americans live in areas prone to blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes. And don't discount severe thunderstorms that bring flash floods or ice storms that cause widespread power outages.
Officials suggest that you should assemble a disaster preparedness kit with enough water, non-perishable food, medication, battery backups and other supplies to get through 48 to 72 hours.
Your kit should also include:
- Changes of clothing and footwear for each member of your household
- Warm blankets or sleeping bags
- A flashlight
- A battery-powered radio or television
- Extra fully-charged batteries
- A whistle
- Cash or traveler's checks
- Sanitation supplies
- Copies of important documents
If you live in a cold climate, pack warm clothing, including hats, mittens, scarves, coats and extra blankets. Speak with all of the members of your household to decide what else you might need during an emergency.
When reviewing preparedness lists from state and federal agencies, you need to consider your personal situation and think of how you might handle different disaster scenarios. For example, understand how your house is built so you can identify the safest areas for various types of disasters. You should also know who your emergency contacts are and keep a current list of medications you take, the dosage, and how often you take each one, in case you have to seek safety in a shelter.
People who use home medical equipment that requires electricity should consider what they would do if the power is out for several days. If you require medications that must be refrigerated, experts suggest you keep a cooler and ice packs on hand in case of power outages.
Certain people may need special supplies during an emergency. Babies may need formula, diapers, bottles, powdered milk and other items. Elderly people and people with disabilities or medical conditions may need extra eyeglasses, hearing-aid batteries, wheelchair batteries, a list of prescription medications including dosages, and a list of medical devices, including style and serial numbers. If you or someone in your household has a complex medication regimen, talk to a healthcare provider for help with emergency planning.
Families should make a plan for how they would communicate in an emergency, where they would reunite should they get separated, and pinpoint local fire stations or municipal buildings that might have generators for electricity.
Finally, think about your pets, too. Keep an adequate supply of pet food on hand and extra kitty litter.
Although you can't always predict when misfortune will strike, you can use these tips to plan for disasters and ensure that you are equipped to handle any scenario.