Dealing with a disaster leaves a person feeling helpless. After all, if you do not know when an earthquake, fire, flood, tornado, or hurricane might strike, how can you take control of the situation?
There is still plenty that you can do to get ready and be prepared even if you are fortunate enough to never have to be caught in the midst of Mother Nature’s fury or some man-made crisis. It is never a bad idea to do contingency planning for what might go wrong because it will ease the pain of the situation if it ever occurs.
Tracking Your Life: Home Inventory Preparation
Not enough good words can be said about putting together an inventory of all your personal belongings with a comprehensive list that includes itemized details, estimated value, and photographs documenting proof of such items. You will be able to have a check in hand faster from an insurance company to get started on rebuilding your life because you will have a clear validation of what it costs to replace what was lost. That will provide you with peace of mind in the midst of major trauma.
If you do not have this type of documentation, you may be too upset to remember everything that is owed you and it will take a lot longer to receive the monetary assistance that is essential in helping you move on after a disaster.
Keeping it Humming: Regular Home Maintenance Schedule
A house that is looked after by its owner is a home that will take care of you – and possibly protect you – in the midst of a disaster. While some disasters do win out over a home, there are other situations where regular maintenance has provided more of a protection and even prevented further damage to the home.
Before anything happens, it is best to develop a list of possible safety issues that could be part of your home maintenance schedule. This includes regularly checking and repairing anything related to storm windows and doors, fireplaces, roofs, gutters, and drainage. Additionally, you want to make sure that your smoke and carbon and monoxide alarms have been regularly tested and contain a fresh set of batteries.
Fire extinguishers should be checked and replaced if they are out of date or seem inoperable. If you do not have any fire extinguishers, go get them quickly as these are life-savers in case of a fire. Keep them in trouble spots, such as the garage and kitchen as well as one for at least each floor or wing of the house.
As part of every maintenance routine, it is also recommended that everyone in the family know where key controls are located inside and outside of your home as well as how these can be turned off in case of an emergency. These controls include:
- Heating fuel main shut off.
- Main water shut off (usually located at the street).
- Water shut off valves for toilets, sink, faucets, washing machine, etc.
- Main electrical fuse/breaker box.
Planning for the Worst: A Family Disaster Plan
While it may seem hard to believe now when everything is calm, chaos and panic sets in as soon as the unexpected occurs. That’s why it makes sense to put together a family disaster plan and train all members to know the drill. When disaster strikes, having a plan already in place that has been discussed numerous times will help everyone just act rather than stop and think what they must do.
Here are some of the tactics associated with creating a family disaster plan:
- Designate a meeting place outside of your home and the neighborhood if it is needed.
- Make sure all children know what to do in case of an earthquake, tornado, fire, or hurricane, such as how to get out of the house, how to protect themselves, how to contact emergency services, or how to get into a storm cellar.
- Memorize all emergency phone numbers or program them into your cell phone.
- Establish an out-of-state contact who can call family members, friends, and colleagues to pass on any news.
Most importantly, prepare a disaster survival kit and store emergency supplies. Many of these kits can be purchased online or you can make your own. Here are some suggestions on what you will need:
- 3-day supply of water and food
- Changes of clothing for each family member
- First Aid kit.
- Battery-powered radio and flashlight
- Sleeping bags
- Pocket knife or multi-purpose tool
- Compass and tool kit
- Personal hygiene items
- Ponchos and plastic sheeting
- Manual can opener
- Utensils and camp plates and cups
- Toilet paper
- Soap and detergent
- Garbage bags
- Special items unique to your situation, such as diapers and formula, dentures, prescription medication, contact lens supplies, etc.
Picking a Safe Place: An Online Information Depository
Ownersite Technologies your partner when it comes to finding a safe place for your home inventory and maintenance schedule. The company offers a valuable Web portal where you can record and track all types of information related to the maintenance of your home as well as information about all the valuables located inside and outside of the property, such as personal belongings, key contact information on insurance agents, and account numbers for mortgages and insurance policies.
The online method to keeping information is the smart choice for preparing for a disaster. You can:
- Share your home inventory with others, such as insurance agents or attorneys.
- Protect critical data from disasters because it will always be available through the Internet.
- Reach your information on a 24/7 remote basis through a computer, PDA, or mobile phone. You don’t have to wait for a bank to open or worry about it being Sunday or a holiday. It’s just one website, username, and password away from your eyes
Putting It All Together
Implementing each of the aforementioned tactics ahead of any horrific event will alleviate some of the stress and emotion involved in handling what probably is the last thing on your mind – a disaster. Staying calm and working together will help you, your family, your neighbors, and your community work together to overcome any hardships.