The coronavirus pandemic has taught us a valuable lesson: we must be prepared.
The scarcity of basic items like toilet paper, disinfectants, and other essential products illuminates the importance of never taking the safety and welfare of ourselves and our loved ones for granted.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), less than half of us have a plan in place to deal with a crisis, whether it's a viral pandemic or a natural disaster like an earthquake or flood.
And less than 30% of us have emergency kits ready for action and a cache of food that will sustain us for an indefinite period of time.
The idea of creating an emergency plan can be overwhelming.
Here are five tips to guide you:
1. Get an Emergency Radio for your home. If power is lost, an emergency radio is critical. A battery-operated and hand-crank radio with a NOAA weather band will allow you to monitor what's happening in the outside world. If electric power goes, you will have no idea what is happening, causing panic and other issues. That’s why you need an Emergency Radio that works without batteries!
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2. Keep "ICE" numbers in your phone or wallet. According to SafeBee, nearly 1 million Americans arrive at emergency rooms unconscious or unable to communicate each year. That's why it's critical to keep "In Case of Emergency" ("ICE") information with the names and phone numbers of contacts handy. Since phones are usually locked, one technique is to place the "ICE" numbers in the background image of your cell phone. But according to the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, the most reliable place for this information is in your wallet.
3. Develop an escape plan. The National Fire Protection Association says that only one-third of American households have a fire escape plan, according to SafeBee. Thousands of people are killed each year as a result of more than 366,000 home fires. Make sure your home has fire and smoke alarms that work. The American Red Cross advises us to do a walk-through in case of an emergency, noting that 82% of households have never practiced a fire drill. Prepare for that in seven simple steps.
4. Have a "go bag" ready for travel. Jeff Rossen, author of "Rossen to the Rescue: Secrets to Avoiding Scams, Everyday Dangers, and Major Catastrophes," argued in an article for AARP that each member of the family should have a bag ready. "Think small and portable," says Rossen. "A backpack is ideal but a lightweight suitcase with wheels is fine. Remember, you may be literally running with it." Along with the items mentioned for your survival kit, include travel-sized bottles of toiletries and enough layers of clothing for a few days. Bring small bills of cash and a roll of quarters in case you need to rely on vending machines.
5. Put together an emergency financial first aid kit (EFFAK). According to FEMA, 99% of Americans don't think about financial and health records when planning for an emergency. "Access to you family's financial, medical, insurance, and identity documents is crucial in times of disaster," award-winning health journalist Sari Harrar wrote for SafeBee. "Seventy-one percent of us keep this information in a safe place, but are yours ready to grab in an emergency?" To put together your EFFAK, consult FEMA's checklists and step-by-step instructions. https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/96123
The Red Cross has compiled specific action plans for a wide range of natural disasters and emergencies, from flus to floods, that will help you navigate the most turbulent waters and guide you to safety.
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