5 Steps to Preparing Your Home for Disaster

In light of Hurricane Sandy hitting the East Coast, I realized that tragedy can strike anyone at anytime. Morbid thought, I know, but it always pays to be prepared. So, with that in mind, my family will be working on the following to ensure our safety.

1. Identify Your Risks

First things first, we need to access the situation. Unlike those bunking down in anticipation for heavy rains and winds, the most common hazards for us are fire and earthquakes. With that in mind, we can focus our energies to establishing a concise plan of action should disaster strike. This is also a good time to review insurance policies and confirm coverage against such events.

Note: California also has the following severe weather risks and it is advised to be prepared for them as well: Floods, Thuderstorms, Extreme Heat, Severe Winter Weather, and Tsunamis.

2. Address Your Home’s Vulnerabilities

With the Santa Ana’s in full swing, a year doesn’t go by where we in Simi don’t see wildfire. An easy precaution to help keep your house from catching fire is to simply not allow tinder – dead leaves, debris, etc – linger and accumulate on the roof, gutters and vents, and under decks. To keep the family safe in the case of an Earthquake, an easy task is to secure items on tables or counters. In the case of a TV [which is really heavy and can truly harm a young child – like mine – should it fall on one] use buckles and safety straps that can be attached to tabletops. Don’t forget to anchor the refrigerator to the wall, either.

3. Create an Emergency Kit

Don’t wait until the last minute for supplies. Keep a bag well stocked with what Ready.gov considers a basic emergency kit:

  • Water – one gallon per person per day, for at least three days.
  • Food – three-day supply of non-perishables (don’t forget a can opener!).
  • Battery-powered (or hand-cranked, if you can find one) radio, with extra batteries.
  • Flashlight, with extra batteries.
  • First aid kit.
  • Whistle, to signal for help.
  • Cellphone, with chargers (or solar charger).
  • Cash, or traveler’s checks, and change.

With the basic kit in place, you should also include any supplies to address special needs, such as children, pets, or medical concerns. We’ve added some coloring books and crayons to k

4. Take Inventory

Keep the kids occupied and their minds off what is happening around them, just in case. A “go bag” that’s fully stocked and can be quickly grabbed in the event of evacuation is a great idea.

5. Create and Practice an Emergency Plan

Take a weekend and catalog personal property. It’s tedious and boring, but in the long run, should an insurance claim need to be made, fair reimbursement is expected and the only way to make sure is to have an accurate list of what you own. It will also simplify the recovery process and, should it be necessary, make it easier to apply for federal disaster aid.

Make sure you think of all scenarios. Where should everyone meet? How will you communicate? Create an escape route (and alternate routes from each room in your home), and instructions on how to turn off utilities.

You should also practice the plan. If you have kids, let them take lead as they may consider it play-time and a great way to turn a depressing thought into some fun.

With all the disasters happening around the world, it’s always a good idea to be prepared. My family will enjoy spending the time together and we will have those on the East Coast in our prayers.


What Others Are Saying

About the Author

5 Steps to Preparing Your Home for Disaster

Ken Grech