We’ve addressed the critical subject of disaster planning many times here at the Mountain House blog, and now seems the perfect time to get the word out again. Partly because September is officially National Preparedness Month, and partly because of the dramatic stories and images emanating from Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. (Find out how you can help here.)
This year’s National Preparedness Month theme is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” Of course it’s true: You never know when a severe storm, a temblor, a power outage, or some other contingency will turn everyday life into disorder. Perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to never experience a major disaster, but given how unpredictable the world is it’s very risky to assume the odds will always be in your favor and eschew readying for the unexpected.
What is disaster planning? Well, first it’s about recognizing the above uncertainty and realizing that disasters (1) don’t always unfold with a bunch of fanfare; (2) don’t always look the way you expected them to; and (3), yes, “don’t plan ahead.”
And then it’s about outfitting yourself with the supplies you need to deal with a disaster and developing an emergency preparedness plan for you and your family.
The good news is that a disaster kit and an emergency preparedness plan can help you in just about any kind of crisis. Basic emergency supplies and a thoughtfully organized, frequently practiced disaster-response routine give you a huge leg-up when a SHTF scenario takes place.
Part of sound disaster planning is to consider specific types of disaster you’re more or less likely to experience. A blackout doesn’t produce exactly the same conditions as a tornado, to state the obvious. The emergency kit earthquakes require may have a few different components than a wildfire-ready stockpile. The Mountain House blog becomes (if we do say so ourselves) an excellent resource here, because we’ve compiled preparedness articles focused on specific kinds of emergencies, including wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and long-term power outages.
The whole idea behind assembling a disaster kit containing critical emergency supplies as a storm, flood, or other event actually occurs—or in the chaotic upheaval afterward—is no easy task, and sometimes a life-threatening one. Now’s the time to gather what you need to stay safe, nourished, and comfortable if disaster strikes someday down the line.
We definitely recommend studying the lists of emergency supplies for survival that agencies such as FEMA and the American Red Cross offer online. From reserves of water and non-perishable food to hand-cranked radios and flashlights, the contents of a disaster kit are meant to meet your basic daily needs for at least 72 hours, and ideally more.
And speaking of basic needs, Mountain House emergency food-supply kits offer space-efficient, long-lasting, and delicious meals perfect for stashing in your disaster kit.
And remember to check up on your emergency supplies regularly, replenishing first-aid materials and cycling out water or food that’s beyond its shelf life.
Emergency supplies are one thing, but equally important is a go-to response plan for SHTF events. Again, you don’t know when a disaster might transpire: Ideally you and the rest of your family will be all together at home, but it’s also entirely possible you’ll be separated between work, school, or errands.
Everybody in the household should be involved in defining an emergency plan. FEMA recommends talking over how each household member will be alerted to an emergency, which shelters and evacuation routes should be prioritized depending on a given person’s location, and how everybody will be communicating with each other and with designated emergency contacts.
Besides establishing a household emergency preparedness plan, you must practice it: As with anything, your first run-through of the plan shouldn’t be when it’s actually necessary. Perform occasional drills, and make sure everybody participates.
The American Red Cross provides this template for a Family Disaster Plan: Print it out and specify it to your household. And FEMA’s Ready.gov website also comes loaded with info on emergency preparedness plans.
Consider the special needs of all members of your household—and that includes pets, too. (FEMA has a useful brochure covering disaster planning for pet-owners well worth checking out.)
National Preparedness Month comes divided into themed weeks to help people organize their learning and prepping: “Make a Plan for Yourself, Family & Friends” (September 1 to 9); “Plan to Help Your Neighbor & Community” (September 10 to 16); “Practice & Build Out Your Plans” (September 17 to 23); and “Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger.”
And speaking of “Plan to Help Your Neighbor & Community,” it’s a great idea to learn the basics of immediate care in case you’re the first (or only) person on the scene of somebody in a life-threatening situation. FEMA has some great tips and resources in that regard at its “You Are the Help Until Help Arrives” page.
And keep an eye peeled for any local preparedness events that might be going on in your area on September 15, which is (drumroll, please) National Prepareathon Day. Or heck—consider holding an event that day yourself!
National Preparedness Month is a great impetus to start taking the necessary steps to bolster your resilience in the face of floodwaters, tempests, grid meltdowns, and all the other varied hiccups of one kind or another that can throw daily life off the rails. Remember, we have plenty of useful resources here on the Mountain House blog, including tips on prepping in limited space and readying for disasters in urban environments.
Happy National Preparedness Month from Mountain House. Here’s to some responsible disaster planning (and to plenty of Mountain House goodness in your disaster kit)!