Why emergency preparedness is so important -- and how taking these specific steps could save your life: Internet ScamBusters #148
With all of the natural disasters lately (hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, etc.), we decided to create a three-part series on emergency preparedness: how to prepare if you have to leave the house NOW. We sincerely believe that preparing ahead could save your life -- or the life of someone you love.
We'll start with the first part of this emergency preparedness series today. We'll review the basics -- and then point you to a number of ideas most people don't think about when they consider emergency preparedness. We'll cover the other two parts of this series within the next few weeks (depending on what scams come up that we need to deal with).
First, though, we wanted to let you know that the feedback we got on our Christmastraditions site has been remarkable. If you haven't visited yet, we suggest you check it out now.
And, we recommend you take a peek at our brand new ChristmasCrafts site, AboutChristmasCrafts.com. You'll find lots of great free Christmas craft projects for the whole family. Check it out now.
Now, on to emergency preparedness...
Emergency Preparedness: How to Prepare for a Very Quick Getaway
Emergency preparedness is something most people don't like to think about. After all, who wants to plan for a disaster?
However, planning ahead can make all the difference if a real emergency does strike. So that's why we've decided to write this three-part series.
We'd like to begin by having you imagine what you'd do if some kind of disaster does strike -- and you have only five or ten minutes to leave your home. What would you grab (in addition to your family)?
Pets? Photos? Family heirlooms? Cash? Your computer? Jewelry?
Take a few moments and write down a list.
Next, imagine you had no warning at all -- the house is on fire and everyone needs to leave NOW. Is there something you could grab on the way out that wouldn't take any time at all -- but that would make a big difference?
One goal of this three-part series is for you to be able to answer these questions. In Parts 2 and 3 we'll help you prepare your financial, medical and other records to help you be ready for a disaster -- because these records are vital if a disaster does strike.
Today, we'll focus on ways to help you prepare for an emergency where you don't have to leave in a few minutes. Instead, we'll answer these questions:
- How would you take care of yourself and your family should a major disaster hit?
- Could you feed your family and provide them with warmth and security if life as you knew it was suddenly ripped away and a new and more primitive world were left in its place?
Preparing Ahead Could Save Your Life
Victims of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina are realizing that emergency preparedness isn't something to be laughed at, but is something that can mean the difference between life and death should disaster strike.
When preparing for disaster, you first need to think about things that your family cannot live without -- water, food, and shelter.
Experts agree that you should have at least 2 weeks of food and water on hand in case a disaster strikes. That means 2 weeks of food, water and clothing for each and every member of your family.
Water is Most Important
The most important point of this article is to stock up on water. You can live without food for much longer than you can live without water. And dehydration is a common problem during disasters.
Allocate one gallon of water per day for each person in your family. If a disaster occurs, it's likely to take three days for help to arrive. So, make sure -- no matter what -- you have water for your family for three days. Then store as much additional water as possible until you get to two weeks worth. It's best to store water in a cool, dark place.
If you run out of water before help arrives, you can turn off the water to your house and use the water that was reserved in your hot water tank. Just make sure you boil it before you use it. If boiling is not possible, add two drops of chlorine bleach for each gallon of water. Just make sure the bleach is plain bleach and not scented or enhanced.
Make sure you also have at least three days of meals on hand, if not more. Again, experts suggest having 2 weeks worth of food in case of an emergency.
It's easy to store canned goods and foods like power bars. Remember that you need food with high concentrations of vitamins and minerals but wrapped in nice, small packages with dates that don't expire for quite some time.
Some people spend thousands of dollars on survival equipment, and store all kinds of food. Since the chances of a disaster are reasonably small, you probably won't want to do this. (We don't -- but we do have two weeks of water and food.)
We also recommend you keep a three-day survival kit that is small that you can grab if you do need to leave. It needs to contain food and water for at least three days (as well as some other things we'll talk about in this article and the other two articles).
Freeze-dried food is one option since it takes less space, but you will need extra water to reconstitute these products. Power bars are a good option.
First Aid and Medications
Survival isn't always about food and water. If you really want to know how to make it in the wilderness, which is exactly what the roads of your town can become in a state of emergency, you might want to pick up a Boy Scout Handbook.
The Boy Scout Handbook contains a lot of useful tips on how to survive and you might find yourself needing this info in times of disaster. It also contains great first aid info. We recommend you include this handbook in your three-day survival kit.
In addition to food and the Boy Scout Handbook, you'll want to keep a first aid kit on hand. Make sure your first aid kit contains bandages, Tylenol or aspirin, antiseptic and medicine for upset stomach.
You'll also need at least a two-week supply of each prescription that any member of your family takes. This will ensure no one is without the medications they need should disaster strike. (You should rotate these meds so that they don't become out of date.)
We recommend you have some extra money you can easily get to because ATM machines may well not function in an emergency.
In addition, candles, matches, flashlights, a crank radio, and lots of batteries will all be very useful.
Camping gear -- such as lightweight butane stoves, coolers and tents -- can come in handy. So can an adapter for your car that turns the cigarette lighter in your car into an electrical outlet. Gortex (or similar) jackets and thermal blankets are important for warmth. And consider a plastic waterproof box and a can of fluorescent spray paint.
A satellite phone would be great -- but these are very expensive. Unfortunately, cell phones are often not very helpful during disasters. A generator is also very useful, and some people will find that the portable models are not prohibitively expensive.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list -- it's just meant to get you thinking about emergency preparedness.
Action: Spend a few minutes now considering what you'd need if you didn't have electricity or communications for a week or two. And take a few minutes to follow the advice above.
Finally, we recommend you check out our previous article on a related topic: "10 Emergency Preparedness Tips to Help You and Your Family Prepare for Natural Disasters and Even Terrorist Attacks."
By taking the time to prepare now, you'll likely be more safe and secure should you find yourself in a disastrous situation.
That's it for now. We'll cover more scams next week, and then return to this important issue of emergency preparedness in the weeks ahead.