Hurricane Matthew is approaching the coast of Florida and it has made me question, if we were to have a Natural Disaster hit our area, are we prepared? Natural Disaster Preparedness is something I think we all think about at some point; but do we take the time to actually prepare ourselves. What if the power goes out, do you have flash lights, candles, lanterns? What if you had to evacuate, do you have a bag to quickly grab of the essentials you need? Today we are going to focus on being prepared when the unthinkable, or the not so unthinkable happens. Are you ready?

Food

So let’s start with the basics, if things go crazy and we can’t leave the house for a while we definitely need to make sure we have enough food to eat and water to drink. Having food storage is very important. I can always tell when there is bad weather coming, the grocery stores are packed and all the bread and milk are gone. Don’t let this happen to you! If you buy a little extra each grocery trip and store it in your pantry, you won’t be stressing the next time bad weather strikes. This goes the same for water. Not only is water essential to our survival, it is also something we use everyday! If the power goes out and we lose water, wouldn’t it be great to have some stored that we could use to boil or clean off with? I highly recommend doing some Pinterest searching and figure out what works best for you to store food and water. You will thank yourself later.

Lights

When the power goes out there is always that unknown time factor of how long will I be without power? I recommend putting flashlights/lanterns in different places around your house. Preferably each room. Check the batteries frequently to make sure they are still operating properly. I would also suggest keeping a few sets of extra batteries just in case. You can purchase flashlights and lanterns just about anywhere these days. One of our favorite places to shop for these items is our very own Coleman Factory Outlet located at the Bellas Outlet Mall in Pigeon Forge, TN. They always seems to be running some type of sale. Get them while you can!

Fire/Cooking

My husband is a firefighter, so I leave the fire stuff to him. However, it is a very useful life skill to know how to make fire. When I think about making fire, I always think about one of my favorite movies “Cast Away” featuring Tom Hanks. You know, when he is stranded on that island and he finally builds a huge fire pit. He exclaims, “Fire! Fire! Look what I have created!” He may have been on the verge of losing it by this point, but it always makes me giggle.  Fire is essential for a few reasons. First it is a source of light when it’s dark, and if you have no power and no lights or lanterns this is key! Second, it is a great source of warmth! Living in Tennessee, most of our extreme weather comes during the winter months with snow and ice. Building a fire could save your life! Lastly, fire can be a way of cooking food. If the power is out and your stove or microwave is not working, you can build a fire to help prepare your meal.

If fire is not an option for you, I recommend purchasing camping grills. They use propane to run, which you can purchase at the Coleman Factory Outlet, or Walmart. You can still cook meals and things would run pretty smoothly during a time which would normally cause a lot of stress. It’s like an unexpected camping trip!

Shelter

Of course when any type of Natural Disaster hits we hope and pray that our house will endure and that it will continue to be our safe haven, our shelter. This is not always the case and we need to be prepared for that. Sometimes we are encouraged to evacuate our home to travel to a shelter that is safer than our own home. Most of the time those are schools or churches. If you’re home is unsafe do you know where you would go? This is something to think about.

72 Hour Kits

Have you ever heard of these? I remember making one while I was growing up. My Mom, Dad, and I each got a 5 gallon bucket, filled it with the essentials of what we would need in a 72 hour period, covered it with a lid and wala! My Mom made it a fun activity and we decorated our buckets and even made a little cushion to go on the lid. We not only had a 72 hour emergency kit, we also had a traveling seat. This is a great activity to do with your entire family. It doesn’t have to be a bucket, it can be a back pack (which is what my family and I have done), a rubbermaid container, etc. The purpose is to have a 72 hour kit for each member of your family. That way, if you need to evacuate or leave your home quickly, you have something to grab that is already packed with the supplies you need for at least 72 hours. This is a fun family activity where the kiddies can feel involved. I found this website full of great articles on how to make your own 72 hour kit, whether it is for you or  your children. Get educated!

Important Papers

We all have them, and they do need to be protected! Do you have a fireproof safe? Do you have multiple copies in different areas? Maybe even in your 72 hour kit? A great idea I have seen is creating your own Emergency notebook. You compile all of your important papers in one notebook: social security cards, birth certificates, marriage license, medical records, etc. You can then store this notebook in your fireproof safe. When the time comes to leave quickly you can grab the entire notebook, throw it in your 72 hour kit and be on your way. Pinterest has some amazing ideas! I highly recommend creating an Emergency Prep board and pinning some ideas and get started.

Communication

Pretty much everyone has a cell phone these days but what happens when those are not an option? Towers go down or the battery dies? If the power is out there isn’t any way to charge it. How will you communicate with your loved ones? Technology has advanced so much that we have plenty of ways to communicate, however, sometimes during times of Natural Disaster we have to go back a few years. Walkie Talkies are a great way of communicating. I would recommend keeping some on hand (probably in your 72 hour kit) to have ‘just in case’. You never know when they would be useful!

Traveling

What happens when you are on vacation and a Natural Disaster strikes? This can definitely happen! Stay informed on the weather situation in the area you are visiting. Have a plan for the “what ifs”. I think it would be a great idea to bring along  your 72 hour kit just in case! You never know when it may come in handy. Our cell phones have become great tools for identifying people to contact in case of Emergency. You can put their phone numbers in red, or you can type ICE (In Case of Emergency) next to their name. This way when a first responder or anyone helping you for that matter sees your phone they will know who to call. Another option is to create a card to put in your wallet. You can include your name, emergency contact, and blood type.

Natural Disaster Preparedness is important no matter what stage of life you are at. One of my favorite quotes that we say often in our house is: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. These types of situations can be pretty stressful unless we are prepared. Talk about Natural Disaster Preparedness with your family, have a game plan, know what you would do and who you would contact. You and your family will be so grateful you did. Be safe out there!

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