How to Be Prepared for a Disaster

How and why to prepare for a disaster.

It's a joke in our family that if there was a natural disaster somewhere, we were probably living there at the time. Disasters seem to follow us around.

If you don't already know, my hubby retired from the military after an almost-twenty year career. Then he finished his education and served as a pastor for several years. In other words, we moved a lot. 

From the California earthquakes in the 60's and 70's, the historic winter storm that closed the state of Rhode Island, major droughts, record-breaking hot and cold temperatures, the "Northeast Blackout" of eight states in 2003, and an ice storm that shut off our power here at Oak Hill for nearly a week - yes, we were there. Our experiences have taught us to be prepared for just about anything.

Today AnnMarie Lewellen from 15 Acre Homestead tells us why it's important to be prepared and what decisions you should make today so you can get through an emergency situation safely. She's right: sooner or later, you'll probably face some kind of disaster. It only makes sense to be prepared.

It doesn’t matter where you live, chances are that sooner or later you’ll face some sort of a disaster that will leave you without power, water, or access to buy more. It could be a natural disaster like a hurricane, snow storm, flood, tornado, or earthquake. Or it could be a man-made disaster that has the power grid failing or requires you to stay put in your home for a few days or even weeks. The world can be a harsh place, but there’s something we can do. We can prepare for the disasters most likely to occur in our area.

Do You Know What Disasters You Should Be Prepared For?

Types of Disasters

Your first step in your own disaster preparedness should be to find out what types of emergency situations to get ready for. Take a few minutes to review the types of disasters your area is prone to. This is particularly important for a natural disaster. If you live in Florida or the South Eastern US coast, you should prepare for hurricane season. If you live in the North East or south of the Great Lakes, you should get ready for big snow storms. If you’re in the Mid-West, or South West, chances are you’ll come across a tornado or two. In California, you may prepare for earthquakes.

Next, think about possible man-made disasters. If you live near a dam, you may need a plan of action for flooding. If you live near a nuclear plant, you should think about a way to get out quickly if something were to happen at the plant. You get the idea. What disasters we prepare for will be different for a lot of us and what sort of emergency plan you have will depend on those variables.

Make Some Serious Decisions

Once you have your list that you need to prepare for, it may be a good idea to consider if and when you would try to prepare to stay at your home and ride it out. Also, consider when it may be time to evacuate. Obviously, those decisions may be outside of your control, such as in the event of a mandatory evacuation. But there will also be plenty of times when the decision is up to you.

Think about what makes the most sense to you and your family. If you are able to stay put, you can take care of issues as they pop up and prevent further damage. If a storm blows out a window, you can board it up and prevent water from coming in for example. At other times, it may be safer and more convenient to get out of the disaster’s way.

Having To Evacuate

For those cases as well as mandatory evacuation, think about where you would go. Do you have family or friends you can stay with? If that’s not an option, look into an area you may want to travel to and get the numbers of a few hotels. Things move fast when a storm hits and evacuations are ordered. You don’t want to waste time trying to make those decisions then and lose out on a hotel room for yourself and your loved ones.

Shelters should always be a last resort. Trust me, it’s not the most comfortable place to make it through a disaster.

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Make An Emergency Preparedness Plan For Your Family

Let’s face it. Sooner or later your family will encounter a natural disaster or similar emergency event that requires you to jump into action to stay safe and sound. Doing so will become much easier when you go in prepared and with a plan. Here are three basic questions that you should ask yourself to formulate an emergency preparedness plan for your family.

Where Will You Go?

The first question you need to ask yourself is where you will go if one of the above-mentioned disasters arises. Will you stay at home and shelter in place? Will you head out of town and evacuate? If you are heading out, where will you go and where will you stay?

These are important questions and you don’t want to make those decisions when you are in the middle of a disaster. Those are stressful times and it can be hard to make smart decisions quickly in those situations. A big part of your emergency preparedness plan should be to think through possible scenarios and then get the information you need ahead of time.

For example, figure out what routes you can take to get out of the area, determine where you want to go if possible, and then get the contact information for a hotel or the people you’ll be staying with.

How Will You Stay In Touch?

There is nothing scarier than not being able to get in touch with loved ones during a disaster or emergency event. Just as important is being able to get news and emergency alerts or announcements. Think about how you will accomplish this both while you’re on the road and when you’re staying in your home or emergency shelter.

Preparing for a disaster: add phone chargers and adapters to your emergency supplies. A back-up power source is another excellent idea.

Making sure everyone has a mobile phone is a great start. Don’t forget that these devices need to be charged. Having chargers, including car chargers with you, is a must. An additional battery or a backup power supply will come in very handy as well.

Be conservative with your device usage to make the battery power last as long as possible. It’s important to talk to your kids about this ahead of a disaster and remind them regularly.

Don’t rely on just your smartphone for news and communication. A backup plan will come in handy when you can’t get a good connection or run out of power on your device. Designate a meeting point or a person that everyone contacts when you can’t get hold of each other. Have a backup solution for finding out what’s going on like a weather radio.

What Supplies Do You Need?

The more prepared you are, the safer and more comfortable you’ll be when the inevitable happens. Depending on what natural disaster you face, where you live, who is part of your family, and simple things like the weather will determine the supplies you need.

Collect supplies and keep them handy in case of an emergency. Remember to rotate your food regularly.

Start with the basics you need for survival including food, water, shelter, and medication. Don’t forget about your pets. From there, start thinking about creature comforts like light, entertainment, and the likes. Having a headlamp and a good book can make waiting out a power outage a lot more pleasant. Add a cup of hot chocolate made with a camping stove, hot water, and instant cocoa mix makes it even more pleasant.

Be prepared and you’ll greatly increase your chances of making it through the emergency or disaster just fine. I have included a free printable Evacuation Checklist for you to help you get prepared.

AnnMarie Lewellyn is a do-it-yourself country kinda gal who has a vision for an off-grid homestead and living a self-reliant life. She blogs at 15 Acre Homestead and writes for digital magazines and websites on various homesteading topics.

How and why you should prepare for a disaster NOW.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. For the first time in my life, I watched as the Red River flooded here a couple of years ago. I knew it was serious when we watched a bull gator floating around in a pond created by the runoff. This post should be read by everyone - being ready for anything truly is the name of the game! Excellent post, Kathi and Annie!

  2. Great information...a must read! Thanks so much for sharing this on Farm Fresh Tuesdays!

  3. We weathered two hurricanes last year. Both came WAY further inland than they ever get. It's certainly an eye-opener when you get hit with something that shouldn't be where you are! Thanks for sharing this with us at the Homestead Blog Hop! :)

    1. It really is eye-opening, Ann - it makes you realize that you really are vulnerable. I'm glad you weathered both storms.


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