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Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and tornadoes are a few of the natural disasters that have been in the news the past year.  Although technology has aided in the warnings of some threats, too often the loss of valuables and property is accompanied with loss of life.

It is not possible to always know when a disaster will hit your area, but advance preparation can aid in surviving one.  Living in Southern California, the most likely natural disasters will be earthquake, flooding, mudslides, wildfires and maybe even a tsunami.

Your risks may be for hurricanes or tornadoes in addition to some of the others listed.  By preparing for the various possible emergencies, you and your family will know what to do when one occurs.

Emergency Kit

In case the disaster restricts the ability to get water, food and other essentials it is important to pack an emergency kit.  A standard recommendation is to have supplies to last a minimum of three days.  Remember to include food and water for any pets as well.

Other common kit essentials are batteries, flashlights, radio, first aid kit, clothing, and blankets.  You'll want to keep the kit stored where it can be easily accessed in a emergency.  If you live in a tornado-prone area, you might store the kit in an underground shelter.  If evacuation is more likely a good storage location would be a car trunk.

Rotate items regularly to ensure freshness and usability.  Check expiration dates and replace as needed to avoid ending up in the dark because of old batteries.

Emergency Plan

Have a plan for the actual emergency.  When we had to evacuate due to wildfires a few years ago, there was a moment of panic due to lack of a plan. Include the following elements:

  • Meeting Place: Identify where the family should meet or where loved ones can find you. Make sure everyone has the phone number and address memorized.
  • List of Essentials: In addition to the kit, there may be items you want to take if possible whether it is because of sentiment or monetary value.  In addition to family pictures, don't forget documents that would be difficult or time-consuming to replace such as licenses, passports and certificates.
  • Research: Disasters do happen when people are away from home.  Make sure you know the evacuation plan for schools, workplaces and other locations that family members frequent.

Keep informed on what's going on if the threat is known in advance.  Check the status frequently on television, radio or the internet.  Make sure your phone numbers are registered for reverse 911 even if they are not land lines.

Spending a little time getting ready for a natural disaster can result in a better outcome for you and your family.  Are you prepared?

Photo: Attribution Some rights reserved by U.S. Geological Survey

About Kay Lynn

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6 comments add your comment

  1. I think I have the biggest emergency kit on earth. Hopefully, I’ll never have to use it, but if I do… I know I’ll be able to wrap my entire body in bandages!


  2. I was much more prepared following Sept 11. At that time, I had well over 40 gallons of water available. I have much less today and have become a little lax. This is a good reminder.

  3. If you live in an area of the country that these thing occur, you must prepare for it. A long time ago, there were fires in the hills near our home and we were told to prepare to evacuate. In those few hours, we realized what is important in life. We packed the irreplaceable items of value such as pictures, and special items of value or significance. Ever since, we are better prepared for emergencies because next time we may not as much time or even a warning.

  4. Great tips Kay lynn – being prepared for a disaster is always helpful, no matter the disaster. DUe to the constantly changing conditions and the sparse population in wyoming, I carry quite a few things in the truck with me when I’m driving, in case I need fluid for the engine when Im out and get trapped, or a blanket for heat.

  5. @ Financial Samurai: Great job but you need to be prepared up in Norcal!

    @ Optionsdude: I’m impressed that you had so much water stashed away. My husband and I have been very lax. Now that we have our spare bedroom back, we should get our emergency kit fully provisioned.

    @ Krantcents: We were evacuated for three days a few years ago because of a wildfire and over 350 homes burned in our neighborhood. It was a lesson in preparedness that I need to heed.

    @ Jeff: Good point about being in remote areas. I have family in rural midwest who also always have water and blankets in the trunk.

  6. Things to keep in your car for emergencies would be another great post.

    Don’t forget about fire drills for your family and making sure non-ground level exit plans are practiced!