It's that time of year again -- that time where you hear about the hurricanes, the tornadoes, the heat waves. The time when you see a community devastated by weather, or a Facebook friend posting about a near-miss with Mother Nature. You know, late summer, heading into fall.
Last week I was on the highway when a tornado warning sounded, so I pulled off and hid in a Sonic bathroom. I knew they had an interior concrete structure, and I really like their slushies.
Do you know what to do in an emergency? The only thing predictable about the weather is that it's always present, and it doesn't discriminate. Weather doesn't care if you live in a new house or a 100-year-old money-pit. It doesn't care if you have renter's insurance or if you just paid out of pocket to get the hail damage from last year repaired. It has no capacity to understand your personal or financial situation, but somehow, I swear, it knows if your spouse is deployed.
Don't wait until you have an emergency to prepare for one. September is National Preparedness Month and the perfect time to review your disaster plan. Plus, the commissary has great sales on things you need for your disaster kits. Get ready now by using our Five Tips to Prep like a Pro.
5 Ways to Emergency Prep Like a Pro
1. Recognize your risks. Step one requires a little bit of Googling. Do your homework on the threats to your area, especially if you've just moved to the region. Living in Guam? Typhoons. Midwest? Tornados. California? Fires. Japan? D) All of the above. The reality is, you should take an "all hazards" approach to preparedness. Your plan for a flood in your house wouldn't be the same as what you would do if there was a tornado heading your way. Knowing the risks of your area and what to do in each instance is the most important place to start, especially when your region has multiple threats.
2. Planning is paramount. Now that you know the risks, start building your emergency plans. Determine where in your house you're going if a heavy storm is heading your way. Growing up in Kansas, we spent many summer nights in the basement, and my parents always made it an adventure. Don't have a basement? The ideal location in a tornado is an interior room on the lowest floor. Know where you'll go if you're told you have to leave your house in the event of a flood or fire. The time to figure that out isn't in a mandatory evacuation situation; it's now. Use resources available online to build your family plan.
3. Stockpile your supplies. Trying to buy supplies for a storm after a news station has said "buy supplies for a storm" is like going to the commissary on payday. Love yourself: don't do it. You don't need a year's worth of food (although if you think zombies are likely in your region, we won't discourage it), but you should have a few days' worth. Remember the survival rule of 3s: You can go three minutes without oxygen, three hours without shelter in extreme weather, three days without water, and three weeks without food. I'm not sure where wine falls into the rule of 3s, but account for that too. Also, remember that disasters don't care if you're at home in the middle of the night or out and about running errands. Always have water in your car, too. Pack or buy a "bug out bag" so that if you have to leave in a hurry, you're set.
4. Talk and walk through it. Once you have your plans, make sure you communicate them, especially if you have kids. If you and your spouse will both have to be at work in an emergency, make sure you've discussed (and designated) who will pick up your littles from school or day care. Have a meeting point. Have a communications plan. Talk about it beforehand so your family knows where to go and what to do in a disaster. It's one thing to talk about what you'll do in an emergency, but it's important to practice it too. Drive your evacuation route so you'll know where to go. Assemble the emergency ladder so you know how it works. Test your alarms, your batteries, your flashlights beforehand. Know where the emergency exits are in your building. You do fire drills at work and your kids do them at school, so why not do one at home?
5. Assume the worst. Weather doesn't play, and the most dangerous thing you can have in a disaster situation is complacency. If you're told to evacuate, do it. If you're told to take shelter, go. No one regrets being over prepared. If you've always evacuated and "the big storm" hasn't hit, this could be the time. Don't let prior experience talk you out of responding appropriately.
Whether you're making hurricane punch five days in advance of a storm or hiding in a Sonic bathroom on a whim, know what to do in an emergency. Understand your region's risks, have a plan, talk and walk through it, and prep like a pro. And remember, if you can make it through a weather event, you're much more likely to survive a zombie apocalypse -- even if it's during deployment.
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