When it comes to disasters and emergencies, most of what determines how well you and your loved ones will fare largely depends on what you do before disaster strikes. Most people have a vague idea of what they should have on hand: A first aid kit, food, etc. However, far less people actually have all of these things on hand, let alone easily accessible and moveable in case of an emergency. In order to take the guesswork out of emergency preparedness, you can follow the Learn, Plan, & Practice procedure to make sure you’re ahead of the game when it comes to navigating catastrophe.

Learn

The first step of being ready for a disaster is to learn. You’re going to want to look into is which things (floods, heavy storms, earthquakes, etc.) are most common in your area. Once you’ve identified which risk factors are the highest you’ll know how to be prepared. Does your area have an evacuation plan in case of an emergency? A meeting point? Look into which channels of communication (for example, which radio stations) you’re going to be able to get information from mid-event.

Also, certain events have certain injuries most associated with them. In earth quakes, this might be falls and abrasions whereas minor to severe burns are common in fires. In these cases, learn about first aid materials and procedures for those types of injuries so that you can be prepared to deal with them long before you actually have to.

Plan

Once you’ve got your information, start your planning phase by making a big shopping list of everything you’ll need. The most common things you’ll want, regardless of the particular natural disaster you’re planning for, include:

  • Water – a gallon per person per day
  • Food – Canned and sealed goods that won’t go bad; spoiled food won’t help you if an event occurs two years from now
  • Flashlight(s) – Electricity may not be available
  • Battery or (preferably) crank powered radio – you can stay informed mid-emergency
  • First aid supplies – band aids of varying sizes, gauze, bandaging tape, alcohol swaps, aspirin, and Tylenol are all good ideas.
  • Emergency ponchos and reflective heat blankets – If you have to evacuate your home and survive in the elements outside you need every advantage you can get.
  • Clothes – A spare change of clothes in case the ones you have on become wet and/or dirty.

From this basic list, look at anything specific your family might need, such as prescription medications or comfort items for children.

Practice

Once you’ve got your materials all gathered and stored in an easily-accessible, safe place, it’s time to practice. Whether or not your family actually run around the house gathering things and dash outside is up to you, but don’t be afraid of appearing silly – it could save your life someday. For the most part, the practicing phase involves making sure everyone is aware of your evacuation plan and where you are to meet when you’re outside of the house. Be sure to talk about who will be grabbing your emergency kit(s) and where you will move on to after your meeting point as well!

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