If there is a fire, does everyone in your house know where to meet?

If an earthquake hits, does everyone in your family know what to do to keep safe?

If there is a flood, does everyone you love know how to survive?

We all hope these events do not ever happen. And often times they don’t. No one really expects a natural disaster to happen to them. Last year, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Japan hard. This was one of the biggest earthquakes ever recorded. The actual quake lasted more than 5 minutes, leaving destruction in its path. But once the world stopped shaking, the horror didn’t end. The massive quake launched a massive tsunami that engulfed the coast.

In addition to nuclear plant meltdowns, loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in damages, the people of Japan (and the world) are forever shaken.

That earthquake and other natural disasters cannot be prevented or avoided. However, that does not mean you are meant for destruction. You can stand strong in disaster and make it out on top with a bit of emergency preparedness.

The term emergency preparedness often spurs the idea of North Face jacket and Teva wearing mountain men that spend all day drinking out of their Camelbak while growing beards. But that could not be further from the truth! Emergency preparedness is not some backwoods idea, it is what smart people do to prepare for a disaster of any kind. And the first step for emergency preparedness is to make a plan.

A disaster plan is simple: what will you do when a disaster strikes or after it is over?

First, plan on what you should do during a disaster. For example, in the event of an earthquake, drop, cover (under something strong and sturdy) and hold on. If you are at work or your children are at school, hide under a sturdy desk and hold tight. Getting good cover will prevent any debris from falling on you. If you are at home when an earthquake hits, stand in a doorway to get strength from the window frame.

Second, react immediately after a disaster. You must ultimately check if you are OK. Think about what they tell you in an airplane, put your mask on yourself first before others. You cannot successfully and efficiently help others if you do not help yourself first. Make flashlights readily available for easy use. Keep one next to your bed, in the kitchen and another populous room.

Third, create a communications plan. More than likely, your entire family will not be together when a disaster strikes. In case of a fire, you will not have enough time to go from room to room to gather everyone. Determine an outside place away from the home that everyone will meet so you can efficiently do a head count. Phone lines will be jammed locally immediately after a disaster. Designate a family member out of state that each local family member can call to report their status.

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