Home emergency preparedness protects your family from unforeseen events, like unexpected climate changes, sudden fire in the night, gas leaks, home invasion and other potentially life-threatening curves life may through your way. Establishing a home emergency preparedness routine takes a little initial investment of time and money, but once you prepare everything, staying informed and keeping your family safe will become a simple routine, like taking out the garbage when it gets full.
The government website, Ready.gov, offers general information about getting ready to evacuate your home, from getting a kit ready to pre-planning a departure route and staying informed. The following article covers emergency preparedness for staying in your home.
Step #1. Food Pantry
For ideal home emergency preparedness plan to have sufficient non-perishable food in the house to feed you, your family and your pets for at least 3 days. Such food may include flour, rice, dry fruit, canned fruit, protein bars and shakes, as well as canned or preserved meats. Though rice and flour will require a heat source to be prepared, the other types of food may be consumed directly.
You may also add dehydrated, high protein meals to your home emergency preparedness panty, since these last for 7 years and require only water to be prepared. Store this food in a high location that will not be vulnerable to floods. Mark expiration dates clearly on all products and keep your home emergency preparedness panty stocked with items that have not expired.
Step #2. Water Supply
Home emergency preparedness requires establishing an alternate source of water. Buy cheap, large water bags made of plastic. These fold into a small package but will hold a few liters of water when filled. In addition, buy a water filtration pump such as used by hikers. During winter emergencies you may be surrounded by flood waters or snow, but untreated water is dangerous to drink. Even the cheapest pumps will be sufficient for a prolonged water shortage emergency.
An even cheaper alternative involves treating water with iodine drops; however these will give the water an unpleasant aftertaste. Remember that the human body can only survive without water for 3 days, though for 3 weeks without food. Make water preparation a key element in your home emergency preparedness.
Step #3. Heating and Lighting
Home emergency preparedness for keeping warm is vital for winter emergencies. Don’t be one of the unprepared who rush to Home Depot at the last minute to buy propane or kerosene heaters. Remember that only kerosene can be safely burned inside your home, while propane cannot. Even so, kerosene will have a strong scent that may cause headaches. Still, such heaters offer you the cheapest alternative for heating your home.
The next step above that will address home emergency preparedness in winter involves natural gas heaters that require no electricity to run. Such heaters must be installed by a professional company certified in installing natural gas equipment. Depending on the BTU output of the unit you select, a natural gas heater will keep a portion of your home warm and comfortable. Since natural gas outages are incredibly rare, you can trust that you will have an unlimited fuel source to keep your home heated. Finally, if you can afford a generator to keep your whole home heated, opt for a natural gas option or be prepared to stock up on fuel.
Unless you install a generator as part of your home emergency preparedness, be sure to stock up on several boxes of candles and matches. Even better, invest in a few lanterns that run on kerosene or smoke-free lamp oil, such as Dietz Hurricane Lanterns. You can also invest in a few Colman electric lanterns that run on batteries, but be sure to have a supply of batteries as part of your home emergency preparedness kit.
Step #4. Cooking
Home emergency preparedness must also address food preparation. Though you may stock on ready-to-eat forms of nutrition, your family is likely to eat and feel better if wholesome food can be cooked. Have a gas grill outside your home that runs on a propane tank. Be sure to have an extra tank in case of emergencies.
Rice and soup can be cooked on your grill. Meat can be grilled before it goes bad in the absence of electricity to run your freezer. Even Spam can taste better when it is cooked with rice, spices and lemon juice. If you buy a pizza stone, you will be able to bake flat bread on your outdoor grill (here’s a simple bread making tutorial).
Step #5. Clothing
To complete your home emergency preparedness pack a dry clothes kit for each member of the family. Pack the clothes in Ziploc bags and keep them in a high location in your home. In addition, invest a little money in wicking winter clothes that can be layered for keeping warm. Such clothes can be worn through outdoor winter activities, but make sure to always keep one clean set of 3 layered clothing at standby for emergencies.
If you have high quality sleeping bags for zero or sub-zero temperatures, include them in your home emergency preparedness plan. Otherwise, make sure you have sufficient blankets to keep your family warm in case of winter emergencies.
Be sure to have a phone that works without electricity or a cell phone. In addition, have a radio that runs on batteries to keep you informed of evacuations and emergency services in your area. For disaster response information, visit FEMA’s website, as well as DisasterAssistance.gov.