Can you answer all of these 4 questions affirmatively?
- If you only had 3-4 minutes to evacuate, would you be able to gather items such as meds, money, personal items that you would need to sustain?
- Would that include phone numbers for you and your family’s doctors, health and auto insurance phone numbers?
- Even if you could stay in your home, if your community’s power went out for days, which means credit cards could not be used, would you have emergency food and water at your disposal for 3-5 days?
- If you could shelter in place, do you know the food safety rules?
- Even if you survive a crisis or disaster, if you eat food that has been contaminated, you could experience significant issues. The time to learn how to know if food is safe is now (and do NOT taste food as a way of knowing if it is safe!)
- If your home were destroyed by a tornado or hurricane or fire, would you be able to provide your homeowners’ insurance company with an accurate valuation of your possessions so you could get a check that would sufficiently cover reimbursing your home? Or would you be at the mercy of the insurance company to provide a check based on their template?
If your answer to any of the above is “no”, then you really should consider completing this O4U.
Purpose of This Opportunity for You (O4U):
To help you be able to affirmatively answer all of the questions above before an emergency happens. Because this challenge is very important, I made it a month-long opportunity. If you complete all of the phases, you will be able to experience a sense of exhilaration when you know your family and pets will each have their own GO BAG that can be grabbed at an instant’s notice in the face of an emergency.
Do you know the Rule of 3? The very first thing you should always do in an emergency or catastrophe is to immediately assess the situation and ensure that you have addressed the “Rule of 3”:
- You can survive 3 minutes without air
- You can survive 3 hours without shelter (due to hypothermia or heat)
- You can survive 3 days without water
- You can survive 3 weeks without food
A GO BAG can be a duffle bag or a carry on suitcase or canvas bags or even just a cardboard box that has all the basic emergency supplies that will be needed for 3-5 days. However, something that has handles or shoulder straps will be much easier to carry than a box.
An emergency can be caused by many things: hurricane, tornado, flooding, terrorist event (such as 9/11), etc. How well you prepare BEFORE any emergency will dictate your comfort level until life returns to normal. Preparation in advance can do more than enhance your comfort level; it may save your life.
- Would you be able to function on your own, with no help from anyone, for 3-5 days?
- What will you do if there is no power or water for 3-4 days, or even longer?
- How many times have you seen that people are without electricity or water for a full week or more? What would you do if that happens to you?
- Do you take medications? What will you do if the pharmacy is closed due to no electricity?
- How will you pay for food and survival supplies if the banks are closed and if electricity is out so you cannot use a credit card?
- How will you amuse the kids if there is no power and therefore, no computer access?
- Will you be able to get insurance reimbursement for the full value of your home, possessions, vehicle, etc.? Or, will you just fill out a form and take what the insurance company offers?
- If you have pets, how will you help them to survive?
- Where will you shelter your pet? Red Cross shelters will not permit pets. What will you do?
Get the entire family involved in completing this O4U. If an emergency occurs, they will be very glad that they did help.
Pre-Phase 1 – How Ready Are You Right Now?
Phase 1 – Assemble Emergency Info and Round Up Emergency Supplies
Phase 2 – Set Up GO BAGS for You, Your Family, and Your Pets
Phase 3 – Safety Tips for if You Shelter in Place
Phase 4 – Home Photo Insurance Inventory
Finale – Set Task Reminders and Celebrate
Pre-Phase 1 – How Ready Are You Right Now?
Take a 5 question quiz before you begin this O4U to see how ready you are right now.
- Tonight – just as it starts getting dark (meaning you only have about 15-20 minutes of light by which to see), turn OFF all of your lights, your TV, computer, etc. NOTHING that uses electricity
- Do you have a way in each of your rooms (including bathroom) so that you can see with no power (hint – candles or flashlight)
- How will you get those items lit (if we are talking candles)
- If you do not have candles AND a way to light them, do you have a flashlight that is easily accessible? Where is it?
- How about a way to keep the lights on enough so that you can get from room to room without having accidents. Will you hold the flashlight? Or were you ready enough to have candles AND matches in each of the rooms so that you can put a light in each room so that you can see from room to room?
- What is for dinner? Remember that you have no electricity. What kinds of items can you rustle up that will take no electricity?
- Or, do you have a camp stove AND fuel to run it OR a BBQ grill that uses gas?
- If not, what will you eat?
- How about the kids?
- How about your pets? What will they eat? How will you open whatever it is that they will eat?
- If you have a manual can opener readily available, you have no problem
- What will everyone do until power is restored? You cannot watch TV (unless it is solar powered somehow).
- Will everyone just sit there and look at – – – what? It’s dark and you cannot see unless you have candles or a camp lantern or a battery powered light or some other way so that you can see each other.
- Will you make faces at each other?
- What will you do? What if the power is off for several hours (or worse yet, several days)?
- Board games are good
- Playing cards are good
- Try playing a game where everyone picks 5 objects from around home and then take turns making up a story using all 5 of those items. I have never played that game yet where everyone did not laugh so hard our sides did not hurt.
- What if it is winter? How will you stay warm?
- You could all go to bed and keep warm beneath the covers; however, what a horrible way to spend an entire night.
- Isn’t there some way that everyone can stay warm AND still have fun?
- Final question – how will you handle bathroom duty (flushing the toilet), brushing your teeth, what will you wash your hands with, or wash your face with?
- Many people’s water stops working when the power is out. What will you do?
- Do you already have several gallons of water stashed in your emergency GO TO area? If so, you passed this question.
So, what is your score? Considering that there are five questions, each would be worth 20 points. You should score 100%; however, you might be slightly uncomfortable if you only scored 80%. Anything less than 80% means that you have some areas to prepare BEFORE an emergency.
Phase 1 (Part 1) – Assemble Emergency Info
Contact the Red Cross or other local emergency organizations to find out where shelters will be offered if you need one.
Round up all of your insurance cards and policies so that you can recap all the relevant information in the form below, or one that you create that has a room for all the critical information.
Make a copy of the front and back of all insurance cards.
Complete the attached form for each member of your family.
Phase 1 (Part 2) – Assemble Emergency Info
Ensure you have enough of the following items (foundation of an emergency kit) for 5 days.
- FIRST AID KIT
Purchase enough of each item below so each person has enough for 3-5 DAYS. Your goal is to have enough supplies to avoid as much suffering as possible if you experience a hurricane or tornado or flood or fire, etc.
Your emergency kit should include items that are critical to you, which will not be easy to get for several days. Some important things to consider are:
- Prescription medicines taken regularly
- Glasses and contact lenses including saline solution and contact case
- Feminine personal items such as pain relief medication, Kotex, birth control
- Baby items such as formula and diapers, baby powder
Emergency stash of CASH on hand. If power goes out, you won’t be able to use credit cards
Emergency items should be put in a specific area, shelves, or shed so they are readily available for an emergency. Use ONLY for emergencies. ONLY use these items for emergencies.
- Get a self-powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power, and Cell Phone Charger
- Be sure that your cell phone has a USB adapter that will plug into the above item
- 3-5 day supply of nonperishable food that needs no cooking
- Hand-operated can opener, Plastic plates, cups, utensils
- 1 gallon per person a day to last 3 5 days for drinking & sanitation
- 2 liters per pet a day to last 3-5 days
- Red Cross approved first aid kit to include a whistle
- Backup prescriptions for essential medications
- Hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes, toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags
- Dental care and vision products, travel-size soaps and other beauty supplies
- Change of clothes, pair of shoes and blanket per person
Clean Air Items
- Nose and mouth protection masks (N-95 rating), plastic sheeting, duct tape
- Formula, bottles, powdered milk, diapers, baby wipes, diaper rash ointment
- Flashlights for each family member with extra batteries or shake flashlight
- Better yet, get a hand cranked flashlight
- Candles and waterproof matches for each room of your home
- Utility lighter
- Hand crank multipurpose emergency NOAA weather radio, flashlight, cell phone charger
- Land-line phone with long cord
- 3-5 day supply of non-perishable pet food and water
- Current photo in case you are separated, list of current vaccination shots (create a task list to remind yourself to put a new copy of updated shots every time your pet gets shots)
- Cage or pet carrier and leash
- Pet medications and pet first-aid kit to include chew toys to keep pets quiet
- State and regional road maps
- Basic repair items (tools, tire patch kit, engine oil)
- Games, books, puzzles
- How will you keep warm if the power goes out?
- Jacket or coat, Long pants and long sleeve shirt, Hat, mittens, and scarf
- If you get cold easily, increase the items that keep you warm
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Make a Plan
- Department of Homeland Security: Prepare My Family for a Disaster
- Emergency Management: Emergency Management By State
- FEMA: Plan and Prepare
- Lifehacker: What to do BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER a Disaster
- National Crime Prevention’s: McGruff: Disaster Preparedness
- NOAA: Are You Weather Ready? Severe Weather Preparedness
- NOAA: Flood Preparedness
- NOAA: Heat: a Major Killer: Beat the Heat
- NOAA: Hurricane Preparedness
- NOAA: Lightening Safety
- NOAA: National Weather Service National Hurricane Center
- NOAA: Tsunami Preparedness
- Ready: Be Prepared for Natural Disasters
- Safety Central: Emergency Preparedness Checklist
Check back next week for Phase 2: Set Up GO BAGS for You, Your Family, and Your Pets.