I’ve called the state of Utah home for the past 20+ years, and in that period of time I’ve become very familiar with the concept of emergency preparedness. My home is nestled in a mountain valley along the Wasatch Range, a mountain range that also happens to be a major active earthquake fault line. Scientists say we’re actually overdue for a major earthquake, so emergency preparedness has become somewhat of a lifestyle here over the years. There are local companies that specialize in bulk canned goods for food storage, and there are even entire conventions devoted to preparing for a disaster (last year I saw a billboard advertising “Prepper Con.”)
In other areas of the country, and around the world, emergency preparedness may not be a major focus, but that doesn’t mean a disaster can’t or won’t happen! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say, and the same goes for emergency preparedness.
Here are 10 simple things you can do to help keep yourself, your family, and your home safe in the event of an emergency or disaster.
10 Simple Ways Be Prepared For A Disaster
It’s hard to prepare for a disaster if you don’t know what you should be preparing for! Learn about what kinds of disasters have occurred (or could possibly occur) in your area. You’ll have a much better idea of what kinds of items to keep around the house, and what actions to take to help keep yourself and your family safe.
I was happy to find that the State of Utah put out a free PDF guide called the Utah Natural Hazards Handbook, containing detailed information about the types of hazards we face here and how to prepare for them. If you’re unsure where to find similar information for your area, a quick Google search like “(your state/province) emergency management” would likely be a good place to start.
2. Get Organized
Prioritizing your belongings feels impossible, but in an emergency situation it may become necessary. One of your top priorities should be your vital documents, including any birth certificates, social security cards, passports, insurance policies, tax returns, important phone numbers, etc. Keep these documents in a box or binder where they will be easy to grab in an emergency situation.
3. Prep For Pets
When preparing for an emergency, don’t forget to plan for your pets! You’ll want to make sure you at least have a few days worth of food and water for each of your pets, any medications they need, as well as a crate or carrier if necessary.
4. DIY It
There are a lot of great DIY projects out there that can help you get prepared for an emergency. One of my favorites is an emergency candle contained inside an Altoid tin. Candles are a great source of light and heat, and this one is small enough to slip into a pocket. They’re easy to make too!
Read More: 5 DIY Mini Emergency Kits
5. Get Alerts
There are many different services you can sign up for to start receiving emergency alerts directly to your phone. The Red Cross Emergency app is one such service, monitoring over 35 different severe weather and emergency situations. In addition to emergency alerts for your own area, the Red Cross Emergency app also lets you monitor emergency alerts for your loved ones’ location. The app also contains valuable information about what to do in different types of emergency situations. You can find the Red Cross Emergency app on your smartphone’s app store.
6. Stock Up
Don’t wait until a severe weather event is imminent to stock up on food, water, and supplies. You don’t need a bomb shelter full of stuff, but having a few essentials could make all the difference in an emergency. If you don’t know where to start, check out my post about stocking up on emergency supplies. Check out this emergency essentials list as a starting point for things you should consider stocking up on and adding to your kit.
7. Plan For Cans
Stocking up on canned foods is a great way to prepare for an emergency, but you also need to think realistically about what you’re going to do with those cans. Print out a few recipes that you can make using your canned goods and keep them next to your cans, along with a can opener.
8. Make Kits
Store-bought emergency kits like a first aid kit are a convenient option and will cover most supplies needed to tend to basic wounds and illnesses, but it may not cover all of the unique needs of your family. You can make your own custom first aid kit using a cheap tackle box! Include basic first aid supplies, as well as specific medications or equipment your family would need in an emergency.
Read More: Make Your Own DIY First Aid Kit For The Road
9. Fill It Up
When your area is facing severe weather, or at the first sign of some sort of emergency, make a habit of filling your tub with clean water. If something happens and the water supply to your house gets shut off or compromised, you’ll have a decent supply of clean water to fall back on.
10. Turn It Off
Another good practice in an emergency is to shut off your utilities, like gas, water, and electricity. If those lines are damaged during a severe weather event or another type of emergency, these utilities may end up causing more damage to your property (usually fires or flooding.) You definitely want to turn off your electricity if you’re facing possible flooding, but don’t touch the breaker if there is already floodwater in your home!