Should You Stay or Should You Go? 4 Home Disaster Planning Tips

disaster planning at homeWhere is the safest place to be during a disaster? The answer is, it depends on the type of emergency situation you find yourself in. You'll either be safest by staying in your home or by getting far away from it very quickly. In either case it’s important to prepare for both options.

Shelter at Home

Your home shelter in some cases can be your entire house, but you should choose a particular room to deal with certain situations, such as tornadoes. Basements are an ideal location to shelter during severe weather. The below ground location is best for riding out tornados or severe winds. In any case, your shelter should be a strong interior room with as few windows and doors as possible. Move your emergency supplies into the room, and don't forget the battery-powered radio. Your home emergency kit should contain what you need to remain in your home for three or more days. The Department of Homeland Security has recommended these items:
  • Water—At least one gallon per person per day in sealed plastic containers
  • Food—Non-perishable foods that won't need to be cooked. Canned foods, nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter and granola bars are ideal
  • A manual can opener
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries for both
  • Sanitation or "baby" wipes
  • Soap
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Garbage bags
  • Warm clothes for winter storms
  • First-aid kit
  • Local map
  • Utility and/or pocket knives
  • Plastic sheeting (preferably precut)
  • Duct tape
  • Dust masks or cotton t-shirt to filter dust
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Whistle—To signal for help
  • Entertainment items—Books, paper, pens, crayons, cards, etc.
  • Family communication list
Special items: Make sure you include diapers, baby food, medications and medical equipment, pet food, etc.

Sheltering Away from Home

In certain disasters such as a house fire or fallen tree where your home could be damaged, it may be necessary to leave your home. Your getaway bag should be a smaller version of your home kit. It should be pre-packed in a sturdy duffle-type bag and stored in a place where it can be accessed quickly. You will need smaller quantities of most items, because you will be moving to a shelter or pre-selected evacuation site. Make sure you also include some cash, important personal information (such as medical insurance numbers) and a sleeping bag or blankets. Consider carefully what you will need, and if in doubt, put it in the bag. It is better to find you didn't need something (or even discard it) than discover you left it at home. Image courtesy of artur84 / Download your free home disaster planning eBook  


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