Hurricanes, blizzards and power loss. Natural disasters or terrorist attacks. They can strike at any time of the year and with winter on the horizon, the cold can bring even more hazards. Have you taken the necessary precautions so you are prepared for everything from major disasters or to smaller inconveniences and problems (like temporary power outages?) I know when I read this list, I realized how many more things I needed to check off. We cannot always rely on rescue crews to show up immediately. We can’t expect that we can get out and get to a store for supplies once that disaster hits, or if they’ll even have supplies left.

September is National Preparedness Month so now is the time to take the necessary steps for the upcoming cooler months, as well as for year round protection.

Understand Your Unique Needs

First you need to identify any particular challenges your area faces and have specific items for that disaster. These could be:

  • Water/Flood Zone
  • Tornado Area
  • Home Near a Cliff
  • Earthquake Zone
  • Rural Area that is not close to a town or shelter

Take Action & Be Informed

Once you’ve researched specific needs for your area, it’s time to make sure you are informed and able to be contacted in an emergency.

  1. Bookmark sites like weather.gov and local weather channels
  2. Sign up for emergency alerts at your local gas or electric company and with your town.
  3. Have a family emergency plan which includes a designated meeting spot and everyone knowing where the emergency supplies are kept.
  4. In winter you should stock your pantry with extra foods that do not need heating like canned beans, boxed soups you could eat cold, jars of veggies, canned fruits, granola bars, dry cereals, sports drinks, etc.
  5. You should also have 2 disaster supply kits (see below) on hand.

Prepare Supply Kits

You’ll want to put together two kits. A smaller one in your car and a larger one at home that you can use at home or grab and go if necessary.

They should include:

  • water (recommended 1 gallon per person per day for 3 days)
  • granola bars and snacks for 3 days per person
  • eating utensils
  • a can opener
  • matches or lighters
  • a whistle and a flare light
  • flashlight with extra batteries or crank handle
  • garbage bags (multiple uses including personal sanitation)
  • wet wipes and tissues
  • a dust mask for each person
  • first aid kit with bandaids, ointments, gauze, eye drops
  • 3 day supply of medicine for anyone in the family who depends on it
  • cell phone chargers for car
  • glasses
  • feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • pet food, leashes or carriers if you must evacuate pets
  • cash (often in outages credit card machines do not work)
  • a blanket (or towel) for each person
  • a change of clothing and a coat for each person
  • activity books, pencils and books for kids

You may also want to keep the following in your vehicle for the winter:

  • a shovel to dig out
  • cat litter for traction in snow and ice
  • jumper cables
  • hats and coats for each person

Learn more about building your kit and learn how to sign up for alerts.

The best way to stay safe is to be prepared. Taking the time to have the necessary supplies on hand can make a huge difference should an emergency or bad weather strike.