Living in Arizona means we don’t have to worry about most of the natural disasters that plague other parts of the country. We never need to worry about hurricanes, earthquakes and tornados rarely happen here, and wildfires and flooding sporadically occur. While we do have to deal with dust storms at certain times during the year, we get off pretty easy when it comes to natural disasters. Unfortunately, this can make many of us lackadaisical about emergency preparedness.
The fact is, it doesn’t take a natural disaster to cause the kind of emergency for which you and your family must be prepared. You only need to look at the problems with the water supply in West Virginia earlier this year, where a spill from a chemical plant corrupted the water supply leaving thousands of people without usable water for weeks. Or to any one of the school or workplace shootings that have occurred in the past year. The fact is, emergency preparedness means being prepared for all kinds of emergencies, not just those created by Mother Nature.
So, what can you do? There are two basic things that every family should do to ensure they are ready for the most common situations.
Create and Practice a Fire Prevention and Evacuation Plan
More than 3,000 Americans die in house fires each year and another 17,500 are injured. Make sure your family is protected from this common danger by taking the following steps:
- Installing smoke detectors on every floor and in all bedrooms and checking to ensure the batteries are functional twice a year.
- Creating a fire evacuation plan that identifies at least two ways out of the house from each room.
- Review this plan with your family.
- Run fire drills just like your children do at school and you do at work to ensure that everyone understands what to do if there is a fire in the home.
Build a Family Evacuation Kit
While the potential to have to evacuate your home may be small, odds are if you ever need to do it, you won’t have much time to think about what you need to take or to get everything you need together. This is why FEMA recommends creating a 72-hour kit that you can grab quickly if you have to evacuate. This kit includes everything your family needs to survive for 3 days. Items is include are:
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
- A gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- A three day supply of non-perishable food and a can opener
- A battery-powered or hand crank NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries
- A flashlight and extra batteries
- A small first-aid kit
- Solar cell phone charger
- Local maps
- Information about local emergency shelters
For more information on what you can do to be ready, visit Ready.gov’s National Preparedness Month website.