Saturday, March 12, 2011

10 Free/Cheap Ways to Prepare for the Next Disaster

The pictures coming in from the huge disaster in Japan are just horrendous. I have a few friends in Tokyo whom I immediately texted right after I heard the initial reports of the earthquake yesterday and they were all able to text back to let me know they were OK. Talk about scary! The other scary thing is that a disaster like that can happen right here on our own soil as there are a number of earthquake faults running under the US (not to mention hurricanes, terrorist events, tornadoes, etc). Here's 10 free and cheap ways to prepare right now for a future disaster:
  1. FREE: hold regular earthquake drills, fire drills, evacuation drills, and communication drills with your family. This way, when a disaster actually happens, everyone will know exactly how to react because they have practiced so many times before.
  2. CHEAP: Each time you go to the store, buy an extra case of bottled/jugged water, especially if they are on sale. The first thing many people need after a disaster is drinkable water (and naturally, it is usually in short supply or not available at all in the affected disaster areas).
  3. CHEAP: Also when you are in the grocery store, pick up some sale food and put it aside for use during an emergency. Canned and packaged items that require little or no cooking are great to have on hand during a disaster. Note that emergencies can be of the natural disaster type (earthquake, tornado) or of the personal disaster type (job loss, extended illness).
  4. FREE: Make a family disaster plan so everyone will know what to do during an emergency. Here's an example.
  5. CHEAP: Acquire the stuff you need to put together "evacuation" bags for each family member. Each family member should have a bag that includes a change of clothes, a toiletry kit, a bit of cash, a bottle of water, some packaged food, a flashlight, a radio, and other items that would be useful if they needed to evacuate at a moments notice (see the list in #7).
  6. FREE: Take advantage of free classes offered in your community that would teach you skills that would be useful during a disaster. For example, our fire department offers free CPR classes, our Department of Emergency Management office offers free family disaster preparedness classes, and our local Red Cross offers free basic first aid classes.
  7. FREE: Learn about what kinds of disasters could occur in your area and how to prepare for them. Here's a good place to start.
  8. CHEAP: Evaluate your home so that it can better withstand a disaster. Something as simple as tying flat panel TVs and tall bookcases to the wall can go a long way towards mitigating damage during an earthquake. Of course you can go even further and bolt your home to its foundation and do other more money and labor intensive projects. Here's some more ideas.
  9. CHEAP: Having a solid emergency fund isn't exactly cheap but during a disaster, you can always use cold, hard cash. Everything from buying extra food, putting gas in the car, or evacuating to a hotel will be much easier if you have the cash on hand to do so. Even putting $10 a week into your emergency savings can add up to quite a bit of money in a year.
  10. FREE: Watch these disaster preparedness videos. They all offer excellent advice on how to survive a number of different disasters.

Of course I am praying for everyone in Japan right now and this incident has only reinforced the idea that EVERYONE, no matter where they are or what their financial circumstances, can and must make the effort to prepare themselves in case the next disaster occurs in their neighborhood.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post!!! I think we all feel like "it won't happen to us", but it's definitely better to be safer than sorry!!