When I moved from Nashville to Seattle one year ago, I felt good about leaving behind the fear of devastation from tornadoes, but didn’t realize I was moving to a part of the country that is at risk for what will be the worst natural disaster in the history of North America. When I learned about the threat of this earthquake and tsunami, it made me realize that my boyfriend and I truly need to take the time to put together a solid plan for how we will cope with this disaster if it hits.
The truth is, no matter where you live in the United States, there are natural disasters that can impact your geography and put you and your family at risk. FEMA has declared September as National Preparedness Month and it’s a great reminder of how important it is to have a plan in place during an emergency.
FEMA's theme this year is “Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today”. This is a really powerful message because I believe a lot of people (including myself - guilty as charged) like the idea of having an emergency plan, but very few people really take action in forming one.
When I think about experiencing a natural disaster like the one that is forecasted for the Seattle area, there are a lot of questions that come to mind:
- If we are separated when the disaster occurs, where will my boyfriend and I meet up?
- If the disaster hits at night or in the winter, what will we use as a light source and how will we stay warm?
- Without power or water, what will we eat and drink?
- How will we care for our dogs?
- How will we contact our family members to let them know that we are ok?
- How will we decide whether we need to evacuate?
FEMA has put together an incredible online resource to help us answer these types of questions and plan for an emergency. No matter what the risks are in your area, everyone should at least have a basic emergency kit on hand. Make sure to stock your kit with recommended items like:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation (extra if you have pets)
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food (don't forget food for your pets)
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
We have three dogs, so a big part of my worry when it comes to a natural disaster is how will we properly care for our dogs? I learned a lot from this great list from FEMA of emergency items to keep on hand for your pets and how to care for a pets during an emergency. We consider our dogs family, so this is an important part of our emergency plan.
To be honest, my boyfriend and I have yet to start assembling our own emergency kit or make our own disaster plan. But a good first step is talking about it and helping to spread the word to others in your community about the importance of being prepared. And I can’t stop going back to the great advice that FEMA is spreading this month – stop telling yourself that you will put your emergency plan in place tomorrow, and simply get it done today! I'm going to hold myself accountable by promising to share the items we assemble in our emergency kit on this blog once it is complete.
What kinds of natural disasters do you worry about in your area? Do you feel that you are prepared? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to leave a comment below.