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iStock 487378860 CroppedWith hurricanes and earthquakes in the news recently, the uncomfortable thought of how to protect their family in a natural disaster haunts most parents. Here’s everything you need to prepare:

Earthquakes, tornados, storms and flooding...no matter where you reside in the USA there is likely the nagging worry of how a natural disaster could affect you or your loved ones. While it is easy to put such doomsday scenarios to the back of your mind, having an emergency kit and a plan in place could be the difference between life and death.

According to Tim MacWelch, a survival instructor and author of new book the Ultimate Bushcraft Survival Manual, preparedness is not a ‘fad’ or ‘something that only the paranoid indulge in’. “The best way to consider emergency preparedness is to think of it as insurance policy,” he says. “Like all insurance policies, it's something you hope you never have to use. But on the rare day that you do need to be prepared - your plans and supplies can make all the difference.”

So just how do you prepare for an earthquake, hurricane, flood or tornado?

Pack Your Emergency Kit

Choosing your supplies may seem overwhelming but there are essentials every household can quickly invest in. “A great place to start is the basic list recommended by FEMA,” says MacWelch. 
“This list includes one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation (you will need more if you have a pet), first aid supplies, non-cook, non-perishable food, a can-opener, flashlights and extra batteries.”

Write Your Disaster Plan

Do you know where the emergency meeting place is at your child’s school? Where would your family go if your home were damaged? Who would you leave a message with if phone signals were down? The Red Cross advises household members to discuss how to prepare and respond to the types of emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play. You’ll find everything you need to write your own disaster plan here.

Think Weeks Not Days

Recent events in Puerto Rico have shown us how the impact of natural disasters can be long and far-reaching. Never assume everything will be OK in a few days. “Many people underestimate the length of time it can take to get back to ‘normal’ after a natural disaster,” warns MacWelch. “Particularly after major disasters, it can take weeks or even month for infrastructures to be restored and supply chains to be rebuilt. “Even though many situations are significantly improved in the first 72 hours, some are not. If you’re willing to take your family’s safety seriously, why stop at three days? Stock up a week’s supply of food and water, and you’ll be far better prepared than 90 per cent of the population.”

Invest In A Weather Radio

While any radio is better than none, a weather radio is the best choice, as it can tune in your local weather radio bands. “A battery powered weather radio is one of your most reliable sources of emergency information,” advises MacWelch. “A portable radio can provide families with lifesaving information, such as emergency broadcasts, evacuation orders, shelter-in-place instructions and much more.”

Pack A Portable Emergency Kit For Your Car And Work Too

You never know where you’ll be during a natural disaster so pack a simplified kit for your car and your workplace as well. “Your home disaster kit should be the most comprehensive but having separate kits for work and vehicles could help you get home after a crisis,” adds MacWelch. “A simple backpack with food, water and a spare change of clothes can be stashed in each vehicle or under your desk at work. Add a flashlight, a disposable plastic rain poncho and some walking shoes, and you'll be in good shape.”

Charlotte Ward

Charlotte Ward is a British writer, tree hugger and toddler entertainer. She is based in California where she can be found enjoying the outdoor life with her husband, son and hyperactive dog-child. 

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