Disasters can happen at anytime to anyone. Disaster's are a equal opportunity destroyer and do not discriminate against region, boundaries or issues of inequality. You can effectively handle the impact of a disaster to yourself and family through moderate preparation and having a plan in place on how you will react to the disaster. A disaster is defined as an occurrence having widespread destruction and distress. It can be man made, like an act of terrorism; accidental, like a fire; weather related or due to changes in the earth's geological regions that result in an earthquake. The main thing is that it will impact the community you live-in and make the resources that you rely on like fire department, local law enforcement, and utility services; unable to immediately respond to your request for assistance. That is why it is good planning to prepare for at least a 72-hour period of 'self aid'.
Here are a few helpful tips for you and your family:
Have a work and home evacuation plan. Make certain that you test those plans at least twice a year.
Have two predetermined meeting places at home and at work. Identify one area as your primary and the other as your secondary. Always use the primary meeting places unless it is inaccessible or dangerous to get to. These locations must be away from overhead power lines, at least 1-1/2 times the height of any building away from that building, away from gas meters and large above ground fuel storage tanks and is easily walked to.
- Identify an out of state relative or friend that you can use as a clearing house for information and message exchange. Make certain that all family members know the telephone number of that person and are instructed to call if they get separated from other family members and then let that contact person know you are all right. Long distance phone lines are more apt to be in service than local lines.
- After an earthquake or severe weather condition that may have caused structural damage to your home or business, if there is a smell of gas or a leak, shut-off the natural gas at the meter if so equipped. Main water line valves for domestic water should also be shut-down to avoid contaminated water reaching your system and or broken pipes causing water damage. Do not re-enter the building to accomplish these task's if structural damage is evident or aftershocks are occurring.
- Have 72-hour emergency kits packed for each family member. Keep these kits in your vehicle or an area that is easily accessible near an exterior wall of your home. Keep at least 3 gallons of drinking water stored in plastic containers for each family member. Don't forget about the family pets and keep a supply of fresh food and water for them as well.
- Keep a small tool kit and other supplies like nails, screws, tarp, rope, etc., accessible and available. If you need to, you can build a small shelter or make moderate repairs when needed.
- Have both portable fire extinguishers and first-aid kits available and accessible. Know how to use your extinguisher and keep it serviceable. Attend first-aid training classes and keep proficient in your skills.
- Help your neighbors and friends in preparedness planning. Share information and exchange ideas! Develop a neighborhood co-op and develop plans to where you can share resources and provide assistance to each other.