Learn from Irene: be prepared for a disaster

After Hurricane Katrina, news outlets have made a point to have extreme coverage on natural disasters of a large scale. And it seems like there are plenty of them to report about. From tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes, our little Earth has taken a beating these past few years.

While many natural disasters are hard or impossible to predict, that does not mean you have to sit in panic, waiting for the impending doom. Nor does that mean you have to box everything up and move down into your bomb shelter. There are many things you cannot control in a natural disaster, but learning how to take care of the things you can will make you safer and healthier when one happens.

Be prepared. Take heed from this Boy Scout motto and make it be your creed. People have many different ideas on what it takes to be prepared. So find out what is recommended by your city/state. It won’t matter how much health insurance coverage you have or how much money you have stashed away in the bank. If you are not prepared in other ways, those will be useless to you.

  • Be prepared with water. It is recommended to have at least 1 gallon of water per person, per day. I know many people who have 50 gallon barrels in the basement in case of an emergency. While this may seem a bit extreme, think about all of the things you use water for: cooking, bathing, drinking and other personal hygiene. Calculate how much water you would need for each member of your family. Store somewhere dark and dry. Switch out the water every year.
  • Be prepared with other gear. Emergency preparedness is not one size fits all. One person would say a 72-hour kit is all you need, while another will say you cannot even think about being prepared unless you have your own camp stove. Look at your lifestyle and what you will use to determine what you need.
  • Be prepared with food storage. This is like the other things as well; it is well disputed what you actually need. My rule of thumb is this for food: buy things that you will actually use. If you do not have a wheat grinder and do not like wheat bread, do NOT buy gallons of wheat to store. You will never use it if you do not have the right tools. The same goes for MRI’s and other food storage items. Stock what you like and will eat. A good idea is to have at least 3 months of regular food storage- the kind of food you use on a regular basis. This will help you if there is a rush on things at the store or if you lose your job and money it too tight. Then you will need long term food storage for a bigger disaster.
  • Be prepared with an evacuation plan. Make a plan with the family so everyone knows where to go in a emergency or disaster.