Do you know what to prepare for?
I live in the Pacific Northwest, where we have a real chance of major earthquakes. Tornado preparedness doesn’t really come on my radar though; it’s just not something that happens here. So depending on where you live, there are different natural and man-made disasters to prepare for. Finding local disasters will be an important part of your preparedness plans.
It is a big step toward peace of mind when you prepare a local disaster plan for your family. You need to understand what you’re up against. This knowledge is going to help you focus your efforts so you can make the important preparations you need.
Get out your yellow pad and jot down the disasters you think might affect your family. Don’t panic, you’ve got this covered!
9 Steps to Finding Local Disasters
1. Start in your home – Make a list of the common disasters that could happen at your home. I’m using the term disaster loosely; unemployment can be a real disaster for your family if you’re not prepared. Here are a few things to consider:
- // Fire – kitchen or wood stove
- // Unemployment
- // Accidental poisoning
- // Household accidents
- // Power outage
- // Make sure you have these 15 emergency numbers in your cell phone
2. Next take a look at your neighborhood – the list may be long, but put down everything you can think of. What businesses are within one mile of you house? Are there any that may have chemical storage or other hazardous materials – things that might blow up? Have there been any issues of flooding? What is the crime rate?
- // Hazardous materials spill – Take a look at the FFPA symbols used by fire fighters and learn how to decipher them. These are found on each commercial building and give firefighters a heads up about the chemicals that can be found in the building. Don’t be afraid to ask your local fire department for clarification. They will have a list of businesses that have hazardous materials in your area
- // Train derailment – trains have their own marking system to notify emergency responders in case of trouble. If you are close to train tracks, look at the HazMat signs and learn to decipher what chemicals are going through your town. See echo US DOT HazMat Placards (EnvironmentalChemistry.com) – HazMat placards are required when shipping hazardous materials in the United States, Canada and Mexico. These pages provide US DOT definitions for each hazmat placard.
- // Flood areas
- // Landslide
- // Crime rate
- // Sink holes
3. Now take a look at what might affect the region where you live, each one will have its own specific challenges. No place is free from natural disasters and luckily, no place will have all of them!
- // wildfire
- // winter storm
- // hurricane
- // volcano
- // tornado
- // windstorm
- // earthquake
- // heat wave
- // drought
- // thunderstorms
- // pandemic
- // terrorism
- // nuclear power plants
- // tsunami
Time to verify your ideas and get some information from your county. It’s not necessary to visit each of these sites, but they will give you a lot of information about your area.
4. Visit the online atlas for your county and look at different risk area maps for your neighborhood. Most counties call this their “GIS” system, (which stands for geographic information system). Just do an internet search – GIS …YOUR COUNTY…YOUR STATE. You will find information about earthquake, wildfire, watersheds and any other local hazards that are relevant.
5. Go to usa.com and see what natural disasters are common for your area. Put your city and state into the search bar and then pay special attention to the weather and natural disaster tabs.
6. Go to Trulia.com and take a look at their interactive heat map to get information about natural hazards in your area. This is a cool site that lets you not only see the risk of flooding, earthquake, wildfire and tornado’s, but also lets you take a look at the crime rate for the area you live.
7. Take a look at the FEMA course “Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness” These parts may help you decide what local disaster you might be preparing for – Natural Hazards # 1 and Natural Hazards #2 information sheets or the Technological Hazards sheet.
8. Visit the Red Cross website and see their “types of emergencies” page. You will find in depth planning ideas. Will any of these local disasters be something your family may need to prepare for?
9. Take a deep breath! Prayerfully consider how you or your family will respond to each local disaster you have identified. Discuss with your family the disasters that are most likely to “hit you first” and start preparing.
Remember, you can do this – one step at a time. Keep your list of “possible” disasters in a handy spot for future Preparedness Planning Days, take one disaster and start preparing.
Now you’ve taken the time to identify your disasters. What is your main priority?