Disaster preparation lessons from Hurricane Sandy

As Hurricane Sandy bears down on the east coast, I’m reminded how important it is to be prepared for a natural disaster.  It doesn’t have to be a hurricane that forces an evacuation.  The disaster could be a flood (remember what happened in the Midwest last year), wildfires (Texas last year), hurricanes (Katrina, Ike, & Sandy), tornadoes (Joplin, Missouri & Tuscaloosa, Alabama) or an earthquake.

Specifically, if you had to evacuate your home, what would you take with you?  My son Jordan and his wife Christine live in Houston.  They have two boxes they keep packed at all times should they need to evacuate for a hurricane.  One box contains emergency supplies, the other emergency papers.  Both are watertight and would float in the event of a flood.

Emergency Supplies: Here’s a list of suggested emergency supplies to pack, but these should be augmented based on summer & winter weather patterns based on how hot or cold your area gets.

  • Towels, blankets & sleeping bags – one per family member minimum
  • Batter powered radio (crank powered versions may prove better) with spare batteries (needs to pick up National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration stations)
  • Sanitary supplies – hand wipes, TP or bio wipes, tampons, spare toiletries etc.
  • Water – on gallon of sealed water per person for each day
  • Water purification filters, tablets etc. (check camping supply sections of sporting goods stores)
  • First-Aid kit such as the Red Cross Deluxe Personal Safety Emergency pack
  • Activities – games & books for kids and adults
  • Necessities such as flashlights (head lamps are great), matches, tool kit, pocket knife, spare batteries, sunscreen, extra house & car keys, cell phone rechargers (wall, car & think about solar)
  • Clothing – especially good shoes & socks (think layering for warm & cold along with items that are moisture wicking and antimicrobial that can be worn multiple days)
  • Medications – stock a week’s worth of medical items for each person as well as spare contacts & solution but also bring glasses if corrective lenses are needed
  • Maps of area – if / when your smartphone dies
  • Bleach & rags to disinfect surfaces
  • Food – a 3 day supply of nonperishable items such as peanut butter & jelly, dry pastas, canned veggies, crackers, jerky, packets of tuna & chicken, etc.  If you have pets, pack a week’s worth of pet food.

Emergency Papers: This box contains items to streamline filing claims, getting resettled, reconnected and getting life going again.  The items here are photocopies, not originals.  Originals are better left in a safety deposit box in your bank.

  • Personal identity papers – passports, social security cards, green cards, driver’s license, etc.  (be sure to photocopy both sides)
  • Copies of insurance policies for home, auto, life, medical (flood & earthquake too if these apply)
  • Copies of any legal case papers
  • Retirement and investment account numbers along with a copy of your last statement
  • Copies of bill statements for all credit cards along with account numbers and contact information
  • Last year’s tax return
  • A recent back up to a thumb drive of your computer / laptop (look into Dropbox, Sugarsynch, or other similar service)
  • Approximately $150 in cash for food, gas, etc.
  • Written phone contact list (physicians, family, friends, work, etc.)

None of us want to evacuate, but with the types of weather activities we’ve experienced in the last few years, being prepared is a really good idea.  Do you have an emergency plan?  Share with us your thoughts or suggestions in our comments section or on our Facebook page.  We’ll all learn from each other.

Evie Wise


Evie Wise
Evie Wise

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