Surving Natural Disasters

The first step in preparing for a natural disaster is determining which disasters are the most likely to happen in your area.  Tsunamis and hurricanes can both be devastating if you live on the coast, but aren't a threat if you live inland.  Knowing the type of disaster you might face will influence your decisions.  Going to high ground is a prudent move during a flood – but not during a tornado or thunderstorm.  Similarly, the basement may make a perfect refuge during a tornado, but not during a flood or fire.

Consider where you will go.  If staying home is possible, consider doing so.  You will probably have much of what you need and you will know the area which means you will know where you can get supplies.

“Sheltering in place” is an option for some disasters like a storm that’s stirring up a lot of debris in the air.  If traveling would be more dangerous than staying home, than “sheltering in place” is the correct choice.  

While “sheltering in place,” keep everybody, including the pets, inside.  Make certain you have at least three days’ worth of food and water for everybody.  The average human needs about a gallon of water per day.  Don’t ration the water unless the authorities tell you to do so. Nobody should ever drink less than a quart of water a day.  

Power loss is a real possibility during a disaster, so have non-perishable food available.  Good foods to keep on hand include granola bars, peanut butter, dried fruit and nuts.  Avoid anything salty or that will otherwise make you thirsty.  Don’t eat food that has been contaminated by flood water or has been sitting out for over two hours.

Evacuation, however, is a very real possibility, and may be inevitable in such cases as a fire or major flood.  Learn ahead of time where the possible shelters are.  You may be able to stay with a friend or relative, or you might go to a public shelter.  Places that are likely to be used as public shelters include colleges and universities, places of worship, shopping malls and anything run by a disaster relief group.

Learn the rules of a public shelter ahead of time.  Most don’t permit people to bring weapons or alcohol.  Also, many do not permit pets other than service animals because of health concerns.  Since abandoned pets generally don’t survive, make certain the chosen shelter will admit your pet.

After choosing a likely shelter, plan several routes to get there.  This is necessary in case a flood, downed tree or the like has made one route impassable.  Take your emergency supply kit with you unless you think it’s contaminated or otherwise compromised.  That supply kit should include at least three days’ worth of food and water, a first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, maps and a flashlight. . Most of these items can be found at your nearest grocery, sporting goods or prepper store.

Before evacuating, shut off your utilities and unplug electronics like TVs and computers.  Get gas for your car.  If the authorities have already selected evacuation routes, follow them.  Don’t try to take short-cuts for they could be blocked.

Above all, have a plan. You don’t have to be considered a survivalist or prepper to survive a natural disaster. A little planning will go a long way to keep you and your family safe!