Would Your Family Survive a Natural Disaster?

Severe storms and fires can strike at any time, and you need to be ready

Images of the recent earthquake in Japan show the faces of devastated families whose homes have been decimated. And though we're far from Japan, Americans aren't exactly immune to earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes and hurricanes. So how prepared is your family to handle severe weather and natural disasters?

In case an emergency strikes close to your home, the Home Safety Council (HSC) has given us the low-down on kits you can prepare to make sure your family is safe and secure.

"Ready" Kits

It is important to have supplies ready if something happens.

  • In your Ready-to-Go Kit, which you will need if your family is forced to evacuate without notice, you should have:  
    • One gallon of water per person
    • Food that doesn't have to be refrigerated and a manual can opener
    • Plastic/paper plates, cups and silverware
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • Battery-operated radio
    • A change of clothes
    • A card with your contact information and the number of someone out of state to call
    • Pet food and supplies for one or more days
    • Small first aid kit
    • Personal identification card
    • Personal hygiene items such as soap and hand sanitizer
    • Medicine you usually take (store it near your Ready-to-Go Kit)
  • In your Ready-to-Stay Kit, which you will need if your family is forced to stay home, you should have:
    • Three gallons of water for each family member
    • Canned food and snacks for at least three days
    • Non-electric can opener
    • First aid kit
    • Medicine you usually take
    • Toilet paper
    • Clothes set aside for each family member
    • Blankets
    • Books and games to keep you busy
    • Paper and pencils
    • Pet food and supplies for three days
    • Non-scented bleach

Communication Planning

Every family should have a communication plan. Your plan should include:

  • Places in and out of your town where you and your family could meet
  • Phone numbers of in-town contacts
  • An address and phone number of someone out of town (this could be a friend or relative)
  • A card including all of this information that each family member can keep with him

Making Children Feel Safe

  • Discuss and learn together about the different types of weather that can affect your area
  • Tell your children that you or another grownup will be there to help if something happens. Talk about how a relief worker, firefighter, police officer, teacher, neighbor or doctor might help
  • Put a list of emergency numbers by each telephone in your home. Tell you children what each number is for. You should also list the work and cell phone numbers of family members
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