March is National Disaster Preparedness Month. This year I was reminded how important it is to be prepared for a disaster like a tornado. At the beginning of March, we were warned by weather forecasters that we were in the high risk area of a possible tornado. On the day of the storms people were taking it seriously. Schools let out early so children would not be on buses and even some businesses were closing early. The tornadoes ended up touching down in at least five states and at least 39 people were killed as a result of the tornado outbreak. A town about an hour’s drive from my home was hit and so many people were hurt that even the hospitals were asking only people with life threatening injuries to come to the emergency room because it was over filled. One town about a two hour drive from me was devastated. Many lost homes and the entire downtown area is in ruins. Tornadoes, and other disasters, need to be taken seriously. We should prepare our family in case of a disaster and have the needed items on hand if one happens to occur. Believe it or not this can be done without a great deal of money and, over time, we can collect the needed items.
Planning is one thing we can do with our family that is free and only takes a little of our time. This time spent could save the lives of your family. Set aside a time each year, or more frequently if needed, and help your family understand what they should do in case of an emergency. You many need to go over several different types of emergencies. While I was growing up, my father worked as a firefighter. He made sure we all knew what to do in case our house caught on fire. Like this we can also review other disasters that could possibly hit your home. Take time and make sure you answer all your children’s questions.
Make a List
If a disaster were to happen that you needed to evacuate and you had 15 minutes to gather your things to take would you be able to get your entire family out within 15 minutes? If you answer no then you need to start making a list of items you would need. There are several items you will need if you are asked to evacuate. Here are some items you should consider:
- A tank of gas
- 3 days of food
- Items for small children like diapers, formula etc.
- Clothes and bedding
- Important documents
- First aid kit
- Comfort items for your children
This is just a list to get you started. You may find you need other items so take the time and plan as a family what you want to have ready, but only take things you will actually need. Keep these items in a place that they can be easily accessed so you can leave quickly if needed. Also check the food at least once a year in your evacuation kit for freshness. Don’t forget to check clothes too as sizes may have changed, especially in children. FEMA has a great document, Build A Kit, that you can use to get ideas for more items you may need.
Buying Disaster Supplies
Spending extra money on items to be prepared for a disaster may seem hard on a tight budget, but we never know when a disaster is going to hit and we need to be prepared. Here are a few ideas that may help you.
1. Plan to set aside a certain amount of money each week. This might only be $5. Even that little amount of money will eventually get you the items you need. It may take you awhile, but at least you are doing something to prepare.
2. Check thrift stores. Sometimes you can find great deals on needed items in these stores. I have found tents in good shape at great prices. You can also find some change of clothes there too.
3. Ask for items as gifts. Preparedness items make great Christmas and Birthday gifts, so why not ask for them and then you will not have to worry about buying those items. A first aid kit makes a great gift, one that could even save your life.
4. Use coupons. Many times you can get items for free or greatly reduced when using coupons. This is a great way to stock up on items you need for an evacuation kit. Personal hygiene items are usually great items to find coupons for.