A disaster can happen at the most unexpected time. Being proactive in preparing for any possible natural disasters is your best defense. Familiarizing yourself with what disasters and emergencies are likely to occur in your area and taking action to protect your home and family can help you be ready to respond. Below are some important tips to get you prepared and to have a plan in place.
1. Prepare a Disaster Supply Kit
In case of a disaster, it’s critical to have a disaster supply kit ready in the event you must evacuate your home. The supplies should last you several days, and include one gallon of water per person, a three-day supply of nonperishable food, a first aid kit, NOAA weather radio or other battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, pain relievers, important medications, and important documents — copies of insurance policies, identification, bank account records, and emergency medical information — stored in a waterproof and portable container.
For a comprehensive list on what to pack in your kit, see Habitat for Humanity’s essentials list. Make sure your supply kit has your family members’ and/or pets’ needs in mind. Once you’ve assembled your kit, be sure to check your supplies every three months and store it in a cool, dry place that’s easy to access.
2. Create a Disaster Preparedness Plan
Making a disaster supply kit is only one part of preparing yourself for a natural disaster. A family preparedness plan can take you further by helping you feel ready and secure in your knowledge of what to do when disasters happen. First, hold a meeting with your family to discuss why it is important to be prepared. During the meeting, go over safe places in your home for each type of disaster and determine the best evacuation routes from your home.
Second, help your family members feel empowered by assigning roles and responsibilities so that you can work together as a team. For instance, show everyone how and where to shut off utilities (water, gas, electricity) and teach them how to use a fire extinguisher and where to find one. It’s always a great idea to learn first aid and CPR from your local Red Cross chapter or other community organizations.
3. Have an Evacuation & Communication Plan Ready
To prepare for an evacuation, agree on a family meeting place, both in your neighborhood and out of town, in case you cannot get in touch or are unable to go home. Once you’ve determined the best evacuation route from your home, create a family evacuation plan. From there, decide where you would go and what routes you would take to get there, such as a hotel or motel, the home of friends or relatives a safe distance away, or an evacuation shelter.
Make sure everyone in your household has access to a family contact sheet with the names, addresses and phone numbers of important contacts, including an out-of-town contact. Often, during disasters, it’s easier to make long-distance calls and send text messages than local calls.
Preparedness, education, and practice make a disaster preparedness plan one you can feel confident about. Creating a comprehensive plan today will take you a long way when an emergency hits. Be sure to practice your preparedness plan and evacuating your home every six months. Grab your supply kit, just like you would during a real emergency, then drive to your planned evacuation route. For more tips on disaster preparedness for your household, learn how to become Habitat Ready – with resources in English and Spanish. Apart from your own plan, educate yourself on any disaster plans in place at your workplace, children’s school or other places you and your family spend time.
Learn more about our Disaster Relief efforts and how you can stay aware and support your community and others in greater Los Angeles.