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This is Part I of our two part blog series on emergency preparedness. In Part I, we will discuss how to best safeguard yourself, your family as well as your home from dangerous situations. In Part II, we will explore how to protect your business in the event of an emergency.

How Do You Define a Disaster?
What does emergency preparedness mean to you? This is the time of year when we think of certain natural disasters. Witness the powerhouse storms and tornados in the Midwest and South, and raging wildfires in the West and other areas. Plus, we are entering official Hurricane season, with the devastation that can bring. For 2016, the prediction is for 12 named storms, with 6 hurricanes, 3 of them considered “major.”

But, you don’t have to live in Tornado Alley or on the coast to experience a potentially devastating emergency. Some other potential disasters could include:

•    Technological and accidental malfunction of systems, equipment or software
•    Acts of violence or terrorist hazards
•    Pandemics / widespread serious illness
•    Home, apartment, or business fires

An All-Hazards Approach to Emergency Preparedness

Some basic protective actions are similar across many different hazards:

  • Sheltering in place or evacuating to a safer location as physical safety is a concern when faced wtih any hazard;
  • Developing a family communications plan and preparing in advance so you are ready;
  • Making an emergency supply kit to be prepared for any type of disaster;
  • Receiving emergency local advance alerts and warnings as well as knowing local emergency plans for shelter and evacuation;
  • Knowing how to mitigate damage and/or protect your household during the disaster;
  • Having a plan for recovery following the initial disaster; and
  • Considering safety as well as mental and physical well-being when recovering from a disaster.

Being ready for an emergency not only helps you and your family. It may also reduce the workload of first responders and law enforcement at a critical time.

The following is a good, albeit not all-inclusive, list of items which should be in an emergency supply kit::

  • Water – 1 gallon per person per day for 3 to 7 days
  • Food – non-perishable and canned food supply for 3 to 7 days
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and National Oeanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio with extra batteries
  • Cell phone with charger
  • First-aid kit – supplies and first-aid book, over-the-counter medication
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Anti-bacterial hand wipes or gel
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off water and/or gas lines
  • Blanket or sleeping bag – 1 per person
  • Prescription medications and glasses; any supportive supplies for special needs
  • Seasonal change of clothing, including sturdy shoes
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, feminine supplies; personal care and hygiene supplies
  • Extra house and car keys
  • Important documents – insurance policies, copy of driver’s license, Social Security card, bank account records; contact information for family, friends, businesses
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Cash and change
  • Books, games or cards
  • Supplies for pet needs, including food, shelter and extra water

Sometimes you are faced with a “prior-notice emergency,” such as floods, hurricanes or wildfires. Then again, we are often presented with a “no-notice disaster,” such as an earthquake, fire/explosion or train derailment. Your preparedness to meet these emergency situations may literally be the difference between life and death death.

Stay tuned for Part II of our blog series where we will explore emergency preparedness in the business setting.