It's difficult to take disaster planning seriously when there are so many immediate things to think about and do. The few minutes disaster planning takes will be well worth it in the event of a natural or man made disaster.
A plan should include the following:
A plan for staying in touch - including with your medical team, health insurer and home/automobile insurer.
- Your Medical Providers:
- Find out how to contact your health care providers in the event of an emergency. Also find out who to contact (and how) if you can't get through to your normal providers.
- If you live in an area that is particularly prone to flooding or earthquake, perhaps the emergency back-up should be in a nearby city.
- Family and Friends
- Set a person who lives out-of-town for everyone to coordinate with. There are times when it is easier to make a long distance call compared to a local call.
- Make sure there are alternate means to charge mobile phone devices in the event electricity isn't available. For example, a plug-in for an automobile; solar powered charger, hand cranked charger
- Be sure everyone knowns how to text message. Text messages are more likely to get through when circuits are jammed. (Text messaging also takes less power than a telephone call).
- At home, keep at least one telephone with a cord (instead of cordless). Cordless phones won't work without electricity.
- Your Insurers: Keep on you, with a copy in your emergency kit (see next section):
- Contact information for your health insurer. This is particularly the case if your health insurance requires pre-approval before seeing a doctor, receiving treatment or a test. A waiver for emergencies is then there is a perceived health emergency that threatens your life, not an emergency to your home or the area.
- Contact information for your automobile and home insurer.
Keep emergency items on hand - including a one to two week supply of your medications. If you don't fill your prescriptions at a national or online pharmacy, also keep a copy of your prescriptions for refill purposes.
The American Red Cross and Home Safety Council suggest that the following items be kept in an easily portable watertight tub in the event of a disaster. It is suggested that the items be kept in an easily portable watertight tub in the event of a quick evacuation.
- A gallon of drinking water per person
- 3 days' worth of protein rich canned food (preferably with an easy to open top) and a can opener
- A small tool kit
- A flashlight with batteries or flourescent glowsticks.
- Spare socks.
- A disinfectant such as rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer
- A first aid kit
- An extra pair of eyeglasses
- A one or two week supply of prescription medications
- A duplicate copy of the prescription for your drugs in the event you need a refill while away from home or in case you can't get to your usual pharmacy.
- A copy of your medical records (or at least a summary of your diagnosis and treatments)
- A radio that runs on batteries and/or is hand cranked and/or works on solar power.
If you are in the middle of treatment, ask about an alternative in the event of a disaster.
While treatment may be taking place in what appears to be a very secure building, in the event of a disaster you may not be able to get to the building. Even worse, the building or at least the part of the building in which you receive treatment may be severely damaged.
Ask the doctor or technician in charge of the treatment and/or equipment about an alternative location to receive the treatment. Also ask for a copy of the treatment regimen so you can continue treatment with minimal interruption. As you are likely aware, you are entitled to a copy of all of your medical records, including regimen instructions. (For additional information about medical records, click here.)
Protect important papers.
- The fire proof filing cabinet or safe should be above possible water lines - even if means keeping them on the second floor.
- Decide now which papers are important enough to take with you. Consider keeping them in a separate envelope or folder so you won't have to think about what's on list when you're in a rush.
- If you have a question about which documents should be stored where, click here.
Create an exit strategy from your room, home and the area.
- Your Home:
- Have at least two ways to exit every room and to exit from your home.
- Think about what facilities within walking distance would be used as an evacuation center. For instance, a school, or a building on a high rise.
- Your Area
- Also have at least two exit strategies from your community. If one route is blocked, you'll have the other.
- Do the same thing for means of transportation. For instance, if your vehicle is destroyed, or if the buses stop running.
Use prevention techniques at home. Prevention techniques to consider include:
- A smoke detector on every floor.
- A carbon monoxide detector in the home.
- Set a date on your calender to change batteries in the smoke detector and carbon monoxide detectors - preferably twice a year.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and one near the fireplace. Also consider one for the garage. Models which combat oil, electric and dry fires are known as A/B/C models. They should be replaced at least every ten years.
- Sign up to receive weather warnings on your mobile device. For example, at www.weather.com . You can track storms via the National Weather Service by logging on to: http://www.nws.noaa.gov. .
If you have a pet, plan for your pet's needs.
Thinking about what you need for a pet, essentials include more than food and water. Consider the following subjects:
- Where you will be able to stay with your pet if you are forced to leave your home. Not all emergency facilities are pet friendly. The same with hotels.
- Just as with your needs, think about your pet's medical needs - including a copy of your pet's medical records.
- It may be wise to keep a few photographs of your pet with your emergency supplies in case you get separated.
- For information about pets and a person with a serious health condition, including travel, click here.
Sign up for free emergency alerts. Alerts can be provided by e-mail or mobile phone. See: www.EmergencyEmail.org