The best way to handle an emergency is to prepare for it. Keeping important items safe and accessible can help you stay alive and healthy and facilitate recovery efforts. Knowing the proper ways to deal with injuries or evacuate could help avert added tragedy. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Red Cross urge everyone to get and stay ready for disasters such as fires, floods, hurricanes, and outbreaks. Now's the time to stock up on items and skills that can carry you and your family through sudden difficulties. Follow these tips to prepare for an emergency at home.
Talk with your household about how you will prepare for and handle different kinds of emergencies that can happen in your area. Delegate responsibilities for each person and discuss how you will all work together. Even young children can be a part of this process. Run drills to practice emergency scenarios. Consider what you all should do if you are separated during a disaster. Decide how and where you will go if you have to evacuate. Be sure to plan for pets.
Now is the time to obtain or review life, property, and health insurance policies. Be familiar with what your policies cover, deductibles, exclusions, and waiver provisions. Homeowners insurance usually excludes flooding, so it may be necessary to get insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program. Renters should seek protection for their personal belongings and disaster accommodations with renters insurance.
Look for electrical or fire hazards around your property and eliminate them. Know how to turn off the electricity and natural gas in your home. Install smoke, natural gas, and carbon monoxide alarms and test them every month. Make sure your family knows what to do when they hear the alarms sound. Have two ways out of your house in an emergency, and practice your plans. Renters should discuss fire safety and evacuation routes with their landlord.
FEMA recommends having enough food, water, and supplies to last for at least three days. Most basic needs are economical and easy to obtain. Keep your family’s unique needs in mind, such as items for infants, seniors, pets, or people with disabilities or illnesses. Assemble your
emergency supply kit with:
first aid kit can come to the rescue for small mishaps and major catastrophes. Check your kit regularly and replace used or expired contents. The Red Cross suggests including these items in a first aid kit for a family of four:
During and after a disaster, you or your loved ones might need access to
critical information such as identification documents, phone numbers, financial, legal, and medical information, and insurance policies. Collect and store these documents in a safe, accessible location. Scan them to make digital copies in the cloud and on a thumb drive, and give copies to a trusted person outside your area.
Widespread natural disasters or cyberattacks can strip thousands of communities of electricity for days or weeks. Freeze a few gallon jugs of water so that you can keep perishable foods cool longer if you lose power. Stock up on grilling supplies including bags of charcoal, lighter fluid, and propane fuel. Small propane stoves are inexpensive options for emergency food preparation.
Candles are a budget-friendly choice for illuminating your home in a power outage, but they can pose a fire hazard. Flashlights, headlamps, or LED lanterns are safer. Solar-powered lanterns and outdoor lights can light up spaces inside; simply place them back outside during the day for recharging. A solar battery charger and rechargeable batteries could prove worth the investment for powering lighting devices. Glow sticks are an inexpensive, fun option as well. Rechargeable spotlights can last up to 40 hours.
Set aside some of your income for emergency expenses. No amount is too small to put away consistently. Keep some small bills of cash in a safe place at home. This will enable you to make purchases if credit cards do not work during a disaster. Some financial experts suggest starting an emergency fund with a few hundred dollars. Aim to save enough to cover three to six months of expenses. This can help you avoid going into debt or touching your retirement accounts in a crisis.
Emergencies often lead to life-threatening injuries combined with a lack of immediate access to professional medical assistance. Learning and practicing basic life-saving skills can reduce the risk of further injury and buy time until help can come. Many online resources provide short lessons, and the Red Cross offers convenient options as well. Proper techniques can make the difference between sustaining life and endangering it. Study how to administer
hands-only CPR stop someone from bleeding, and treat burns. Learn how to deal with a concussion and perform the Heimlich maneuver.
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