You Can’t Predict a Disaster, But You Can Be Ready

When a natural disaster occurs, individuals and families could be confined to their homes for long stretches of time or forced to evacuate their communities.  These disasters can strike without a moment’s notice, and those that do not prepare are the most vulnerable.  The American Red Cross of Central and Northern Michigan proposes taking the following four steps to protect you and your loved ones in the event of a natural disaster:

1.  Contact an American Red Cross chapter or a local emergency management office near you to find what types of natural disasters are common in your region.  Have a pad of paper and pen ready when you call, so you can take notes.  It is important to find out the warning signals of your regions’ common disasters and how to specifically prepare for them.  Be mindful of eldumbrellaerly and disabled members of your household, and mention any pets to find out about animal care after a disaster. Ask plenty of questions to ensure you obtain the knowledge necessary.  Note:  A disaster doesn’t always hit when you are at home.  So, find out about the disaster plans that have been established at your workplace and children’s daycare or school.

2.  Use the information gathered above to design a disaster plan tailored to fit your family’s circumstances.  Take time to meet with your family to discuss the dangers of various disasters and what appropriate actions can be taken to keep them safe.  Define two different meeting locations: one right outside your home for an emergency, like a fire; and another location outside your neighborhood, if it isn’t possible to return home.  Create an emergency contact list, and make sure all family members are aware of who to call and have their phone numbers memorized.

3.  Complete the preparedness checklist:

  • Assemble your disaster supply kit and emergency supplies.
  • Call your insurance provider and verify you have adequate coverage.
  • Install smoke detectors on every level in your home, and inspect them regularly to ensure they are functioning properly.
  • Make sure all members of the household know how to turn off electricity, water and gas in the event of a disaster.
  • Map out two escape routes for every room in your home, and determine “safe-spots” for events like hurricanes and earthquakes.
  • Place emergency contact numbers in a prominent place near phones.
  • Teach all children when and how to dial 911 and/or other emergency contacts.

4.   With any skill acquired, it is imperative that it is practiced and maintained to keep it fresh in your family’s memory. Quiz all members of the household about every six months by conducting fire and emergency drills. Keep your emergency supplies and disaster kits fully stocked.  As a rule of thumb, replace stored food every six months and drinking water about every three months. Follow the recommended manufacturer’s instructions to maintain all fire extinguishers and smoke detectors installed.

The American Red Cross of Central and Northern Michigan recommend you keep the following list of items in your disaster kit:

  • A first aid kit
  • A three day supply of food
  • A three day supply of water (one gallon/person/day)
  • An extra set of car and house keys
  • Cash or a credit card
  • Emergency tools like a flashlight, radio and plenty of extra batteries
  • One blanket/sleeping bag per person
  • One change of clothing and shoes per person
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Special supplies for pets, infants, and disabled or elderly members of the household

To learn more about the American Red Cross of Central and Northern and their efforts to provide awareness about safety measures, visit their website at or call them at (514) 484-7461.

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