7 Tips for preparing for a disaster
#1 Make a Plan. Living here in Winston Salem, NC, you’re less likely to face an earthquake than a severe storm that could cause flash flooding. Knowing what you could face will help prepare you for emergencies as you go throughout your day to day routine. Red Cross has thought of a number of them and are listed here. Flooding in Texas and Louisiana reminds us that you may not have as much warning with flash floods or sudden storm systems. It doesn’t take much time, but it will save you valuable time should an emergency happen. Make, print and practice a plan.
#2 The Details matter. Know the details of how you escape a disaster. Planning the route of where you are going while the fire is burning is not the time to plan your route. Knowing if you are going to a shelter, motel or friends home will help get you there quickly and safely. Ensuring that everyone knows the details of the plan will ensure that your family will meet you at the prescribed place. Does your family require special needs? Do you have pets? These are the types of details that matter. The goal is to ensure the whole family is taken care of. Medications needed? Does the shelter or motel take pets? Consider all of the needs of the entire family.
#3 Stay informed. Ensuring that you are informed of impending storms by listening to NOAA or the local news alerts will keep you aware of changing weather. Being informed is part of being prepared. Local news agencies are committed to alerting their listeners and viewers of dangerous situations.
#4 Communicate. Most people say I’ll just pick up my cell phone, but that may be down. If local phone lines are overloaded or out of service it is sometimes easier to call or text long distance. Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones. If your community has experienced a disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website to let your family and friends know you are safe. You may also call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select the prompt for "Disaster" to register yourself and your family. Speaking of communication, sign up for emergency alerts. The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA’s) are designed to be short and an effective way to save lives by giving warning and direction to people in the affected area. Don’t turn them off because they are less annoying than the alternative. Social Media may give you some information and allow you to contact family but don’t count on it exclusively.
#5 Emergency Kit. Having a plan but no tools to implement it with is ineffective. What are some of the basics you need? Water, Food, and Shelter are the big three but what about other necessities? Do you have medicine that you need? A small child to care for? What are other items to help you along the way? Think first aid items, rope and flashlights. FEMA has a list of items that will be helpful here. Do you need to be a doomsday prepper? Probably not, but depending on the severity, you may have to rely on your own for 3-4 days before infrastructure is restored. Be sure you are familiar with what is in the Emergency kit and how to use the items in the kit.
#6 Get trained. Knowing some basic emergency training will also help in a crisis situation. Know how a fire extinguisher works or how to perform CPR. The American Red Cross has education on a number of topics that can be useful in an emergency situation. Learn where the shut offs are for utilities in your home or office. Cutting them off may prevent further damage or making a bad situation even worse. Be sure that your family and coworkers are educated on the plan of what to do in case of an emergency.
#7 Now that you are planning what to do when you are at home, what about if you’re away from home? Talk to your child’s school and ask how they plan or evacuate the school? How do they communicate with you about emergencies? Does your business have a plan? SERVPRO of West Forsyth County can help you with that. The Emergency Ready Profile can go right beside your employee handbook and be carried with you on your mobile device. Knowing what to do and what to expect in advance is the key to timely mitigation and can help minimize how water and fire damage can affect your business. Call us to get started on your plan 336-946-1131.