Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Having a disaster plan

In our super connected world of cell phones and computers, it may seem difficult to visualize yourself and your family in a situation where none of the normal methods of communication are available. But these situations arise every day. Power outages are almost an every day occurrence somewhere in the world. Recently, bad weather and an ice storm left tens of thousands of people without power. The same power outage can disrupt cell phone service and even land line telephones.

In a warning on the Provident Living Website, in addition to a natural disaster, an emergency may occur anywhere and without warning. Examples include hazardous material spills, fires, power failure, and terrorist attacks. Consider which emergencies are possible in your location and identify specific ways to communicate in these types of emergencies.

If the disaster is confined to your home, such as a fire or other emergency, it is a good idea to have an evacuation plan and a place to meet. You may wish to practice, just like the fire drills they have in schools across the country. Boy Scouts have an Emergency Preparedness Merit Badge and the pamphlet for the merit badge is a good guide for any such emergency. The Merit Badge requirements include a sample home safety checklist.

There are a number of companies that specialize in home emergency equipment. One common recommendation is a 72 hour emergency kit. A Google search on "72 hour emergency kit" returned 11,200 results. There are a number of checklists on line advising what to put in the kit.

When we had a lot of children attending schools across the U.S. our family had its own 800 number, so that in the event of an emergency, any of the children could call home without incurring a charge. We still have an 800 number available, but with cell phones the need has diminished.

From experience, one of the most useful items to have in any emergency is a flashlight. But you should also consider food, water, bedding, clothing, fuel, and some basic equipment like knives and a shovel. Don't forget toilet paper.

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