How to Create a Natural Disaster Survival Plan

Hello, Friends! Emergency preparedness has been on my mind, since Hurricane Matthew is quickly approaching. We have lived through several category 1,2 and 3 hurricanes before, so I know how important it is to be prepared.

This week, the mister and I have been updating our family’s natural disaster survival plan, kit, and backpacks. I thought if I walk you through my process, it could be of service to some of you out there. First, I wrote a new natural disaster survival plan – this is especially important for us, since this is the first major storm we have experienced since we moved back to Florida. Read on to learn how to create your own natural disaster survival plan.

1. Review, Update + Practice
First things first, once a year you should sit down to review, update and practice your natural disaster survival plan. This is the one way that you will be able to make the necessary updates to the plan and practice makes perfect. Everyone in your family should have a role when it comes to your plan, including the kids. Some examples include choosing a designated place to meet if your family becomes separated and establishing an out-of-state emergency contact, someone everyone in your family can contact to say “I am OK! if you become separated. Please have your children memorize this number in case their cell phone goes dead.

2. Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? 
If you know about the disaster ahead of time – in cases such as; hurricanes and volcanoes, you need to quickly decide if you plan to stay or evacuate. If you live in the area that is going to be directly hit by the natural disaster, it is best to leave as soon as possible. However, leaving doesn’t mean you have to hop on an airplane or drive hundreds of miles. You usually only have to drive several miles to get out of harms way – you don’t want to get stuck on the freeway or at the airport during a natural disaster. For example, the last time we lived in Florida, when we heard that Katrina (category 1 at the time) was headed our way (we lived on the beach at that time), we grabbed our hurricane kit and backpacks and drove to a hotel (that accepted dogs) outside of the cone.  Always better safe than sorry.

3. Have a Last Resort Plan
If you decide to stay during the natural disaster and then for some reason you have to leave your home at the last minute, you need to know where to go. Have a list of shelters in close proximity that you can get to quickly and have an emergency preparedness kit and backpacks (for each member of your family) ready to grab and go, including blankets/pillows, food, change of clothing, toiletries, water, medicines, and other survival items.

4. If You Plan to Stay – Stay and Prepare
Do not wait until the natural disaster is knocking on door to prepare. For natural disasters such as hurricanes, install your hurricane shutters immediately. If you have a generator, replace the oil/gasoline and make sure you have enough to keep your generating going for several days, make sure the generator is in working order. (Remember to only run the generator outside and away from your home, this is very important, many folks have died due to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning). If you need a very long extension cord, make sure to pick on up immediately. If you need supplies to board up your home, get them now. Choose a safe room in your home that has no windows and that can shelter your family if your homes outer structure breaks apart. Great examples are inside bathrooms, closets or stairwells. Choose an out of state emergency contact, someone everyone in your family can call to say “I am OK” if you become separated from your family.

5. Prepare for Special Needs Family Members + Pets
If you have a family member that has special medical needs, contact your local emergency management department to find the local special care shelter. If you need to take a family member to the shelter, make sure that you pack enough food, water, medicines, and supplies for each person for at least three days. If you have pets, take careful consideration on what you will do if you have to go to a shelter or evacuate. Many shelters will NOT allow pets – please have alternate ideas ready in case you have to leave.

6. Prepare Your Home
After you have made all of the necessary accommodations to protect your home from the natural disaster – contact your insurance company to find out what disasters and damages your policy covers. Determine whether you need to add more coverage protection and ask yourself, would my insurance cover the costs to rebuild my home from ground zero if necessary?

7. Prepare Your Survival Kit and Backpacks 
You should have a natural disaster backpack for each member of your family. We have dedicated backpacks that are packed with all of the essentials necessary to sustain each of us and our dogs (Noodles and Olive) for at least 3 days. Included in each of our packs a blanket/pillow, two changes of clothing, toiletries, first aid kit, bug spray, flashlight, hat, vital documents, credit cards, cash, notepad/pencil, a book, card games, rain gear, and our hiking boots. We also have separate large survival kits that house our food, water, Swiss army knives, tent, paper goods/plastic cutlery, rope, solar powered radio/flashlight, extra batteries, tape, garbage bags, wipes and other supplies that will be necessary, if we have to grab and go we are prepared.

If you are in the path of Hurricane Matthew, please prepare now if you haven’t already! It is always better to be safe than sorry. Stay safe everyone!

photo via Rick McCharles

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