What would you do if a disaster hit right now? In case of a fire, flood or other natural disaster, does your family know what to do and where to go? It is very important for your family to sit down and discuss a natural disaster plan in case something were to happen. The quicker you get this done, the better off your family will be – you never know when a natural SHTF type disaster may strike!
Tips for Sheltering in Place During Natural Disaster
Depending on the disaster and your location, you may be able to bug-in. If you are not directly in the path of the disaster, staying put may be your best option. The disaster will determine the length of time you need to stay sheltered. Tornado warnings and watches may only last a couple of hours, but severe storms and flooding may last days at a time. Winter storms could last weeks or even months.
Be sure you have plenty of food and water stored in case the disaster lasts for an extended period of time. It is recommended that you have 3 gallons of water per person per day, so a disaster lasting a week for a family of 5 will require approximately 105 gallons of water. For food, you should figure about 1,500-2,000 calories per person per day. Of course, you always want to store food you’ll actually eat, so don’t store 50 buckets of food unless you have tried them first. There is a distinct psychological advantage to eating foods you like as opposed to eating “survival food”.
While you may be safe “for now”, it’s imperative that you not let your guard down too much until authorities have given an “all clear” call that the danger is over. Always make sure you are with another adult or two if possible so you can keep a constant monitor on television, radio, or an emergency radio. Set-up a sleep rotation schedule so someone is always awake – if everyone is asleep during a major catastrophe, and nobody is awake to know it, you may not wake up until it is too late – if at all.
Tips for Bugging-Out During Natural Disaster
Although your plan may vary from situation to situation, your bug-out plan will always start the same way – grab your bug-out bag! This may not be the TEOTWAWKI disaster you were planning for when you think “bug-out bag”, but any time you’re leaving your house – whether it’s a natural disaster or SHTF – it’s always good to have an appropriate bug-out bag. A good rule of thumb is to go through your pack regularly to make sure things are in order. Be sure to swap summer clothing and winter clothing appropriately, check for expired MREs, and be sure to change the batteries in any flashlights or walkie talkies you carry with you.
Figuring a route of escape is something that will require lots of planning. Depending on your situation, you may be going in different directions to get to different places. Be sure you know all routes to any location you’ll be headed. Know what major roads can be avoided by taking back roads, and don’t rely on GPS – it may not be working. Learn to read a map, and keep one in your bug-out bag and one in your car. If you’re still a little lost on how to create an evacuation plan, Ready.gov has some great tips on their website.
How to Communicate with Your Family
Communication is a key factor for any disaster plan – SHTF or otherwise. Designate a “base” of communications so everyone can keep in constant contact. If you have to bug-out, your base may be your bug-out location if you’re headed to a friend or family member’s house. If you’re headed to a different location, you might assign one person in the group as the communication leader so that everyone else that will be travelling with you knows to contact that person if need be.
The use of cell phones is natural, but should you lose reception or worse, a cell tower goes down altogether, you’ll need different methods of communication. Make sure you check out my article on Family Communications for indepth tips and advice on staying in touch in case of emergency.
Where to Go in Case of Disaster
If you have set up a prepper network in case of emergency, there may be many options for you should you need to bug-out. Each person’s house may have strengths over everyone else’s. If someone has an underground bunker, that’s where you should go during a tornado. On the other hand, if their land is located in a lower elevation, it might not be wise to go there in case of a flood. Make plans ahead of time on where to go and when to make the call to get moving.
Many cities have central shelters dedicated to disaster relief for its citizens. Sometimes local authorities set shelter on the fly in a school gymnasium or a local church. Contact your local authorities to find shelters near you. You can also search for open shelters by texting SHELTER and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA).
Practice Natural Disaster Drills
Now that you know your family’s natural disaster plan from front to back, the best way to make sure it will work is to practice it. At first, it is a good idea to tell your family you’re going to have a drill, and execute the plan slowly so everyone understands every aspect. Create a disaster drill checklist so you know you’re getting everything together and have everything ready. As you get better at your drills and find you’re getting faster and faster, you might spring a surprise bug-out on your family late one evening just to really test them (and yourself). It’s easy to bug-out when you know it’s coming. It is when we are under high stress that things may begin to fall apart. That’s when life-risking mistakes are prone to happen.