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Prepare for Natural Disaster Emergencies

Urban and rural folks alike need to prepare for natural disaster emergencies, the article includes information on foods and equipment needed to survive up to a week in emergency situations.

| January/February 1987

  • Tornado emergency preparedness
    Preparing for the unexpected falls into two categories: emergencies that permit you to stay at home and those requiring immediate or delayed evacuation.

  • Tornado emergency preparedness

Advance preparation can disarm disaster. Stock up and familiarize yourself with survival equipment and first-aid books beforehand. 

Prepare for Natural Disaster Emergencies

Tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, forest fires, mud slides, power outages, toxic leaks—no area of the country is immune to natural disaster emergencies. All of us, countryfolk or urban dwellers, should acquaint ourselves with the types of emergencies most likely to occur where we live, and make some advance preparations.

Preparedness for long-term catastrophies, such as famine, drought, or nuclear war, requires more extensive information and planning than I'll cover in this article. I'm going to focus here on short-term, yet potentially life-threatening, emergencies that last from a day to a week.

Getting prepared for natural disaster emergencies is not expensive. With the exception of food, warm clothing, and a good first-aid kit that we already had on hand, my husband and I obtained our emergency gear for less than $70 by buying a kerosene heater and lamp, propane cookstove, fuel tanks, a battery-powered AM-FM radio, and insulated underwear at yard sales and flea markets.

Learning From Disaster Experience

Natural disaster preparedness means becoming well informed, establishing a plan, and accumulating items for basic comforts ahead of time. This paid off for us in the late winter of 1983 when we spent two days without electricity during a huge snowstorm that crippled the Southeast. We closed off all rooms and moved into the kitchen during the day, where our second-hand kerosene heater kept us a toasty 72 degrees Fahrenheit, even at its lowest setting. Our two-burner propane cookstove provided quick, hot meals, and the kerosene lamp was a blessing when darkness fell. We listened to weather reports on our battery-powered radio, played cards, and read.

But not one of the neighbors in our quiet residential community was prepared for even this small, short-term emergency. We opened our home to them for warmth, while our propane cookstove moved up and down the block. If this had been a more serious situation lasting a week or longer, it would have been impossible for us to provide enough facilities for all our neighbors—and some of the less healthy retirees could have been in trouble.

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