Although it’s always a good idea to be ready for a natural disaster or emergency, the recent tragedies occurring across the country highlight how important disaster preparedness really is.
You can’t anticipate the level of destruction that seismic activity, fire or severe weather can bring. But creating a plan to minimize damage to your property and keep your family safe in the wake of a disaster is your best course of action before an emergency actually occurs. Being ready for an emergency involves equal parts research, knowledge, and action. Review these preparation guideline to see where your plan stands, and what actions you can take to improve it.
Know Your Area’s Risks
In Southern California, earthquakes are often our top natural disaster concern. They can destroy foundations, collapse structures, and compromise the overall integrity of your home. Knowing where you home lies in relation to active fault lines is a great starting point to assessing your risks.
With our drought prone landscape, fires is also a significant risk, as the fires raging in Southern and Northern California this week illustrate. But it’s also important to remember that much of our area lies in historic floodplains and deltas. Heavy rains after a drought or fire can create widespread flooding damage and mudslides.
The nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes has a natural-disaster risk map that can help you identify the risks found in your region. It’s also a good time to check your insurance policies and confirm your coverage against various disasters.
Know What Makes Your Home Vulnerable
Living in earthquake country, prepping your home for a shake-up is always a smart move. Most things are easy DIY projects, such as moving heavy mirrors and wall hangings away from sleeping areas, installing latches on cupboards where glass and ceramics are stored, and anchoring valuable keepsakes with adhesive or putty. Larger projects like bolting your house frame to the foundation, will most likely need the services of a professional.
If you live in an area prone to fires, make sure your landscaping won’t fan the flames. If you are near dry hillsides, make sure any dry brush or vegetation is cleared well away from your home. Consider installing a water wise garden utilizing succulents and rock-scaping around your house rather than large trees and shrubs that can quickly dry out and ignite with airborne embers.
Have An Action Plan
The last thing you want to worry about in a disaster is not knowing what your next steps are. Create a disaster preparedness plan with your entire family, so everyone knows what to do in an emergency. It’s a good practice to decide on two meeting places in your neighborhood, one close by and one father away. Keep a map with both spots marked with your emergency supplies.
Emergency supplies in the home are great, but making sure you’re prepared to be on the move can be a crucial step in any disaster. A “go-bag” or a sealable portable container packed with survival essentials is a must have if you need to evacuate.
Be Sure To Pack:
Three days’ worth of food and water (at least a gallon per family member)
Battery powered (or hand crank) flashlights and radio
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Trash bags and duct tape, along with a dust mask
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Manual can opener for food
Cell phone with chargers, inverter, or solar charger
Moist towelettes and any personal sanitation
Any important medications
Once you have your supplies together, it’s best to give them a check-up once a year to make sure nothing has expired. You may also want to make sure that any important papers are in a spot where you can easily grab them if you have to evacuate.
Disasters can make all of us feel like life is out of our control. By planning ahead and prepping your home and family’s supplies against the potential risks of an emergency, you can at least be secure in knowing you’ll have what you need if the time comes. If you have any questions about disaster preparedness or specific hazards in our area, we’re happy to help advise you on how to minimize your property risks.