“The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.”
Disasters happen, which is why a homeowner emergency preparedness plan is so important. The outcome of a small or large disaster can hinge on how well you have planned and prepared.
“There is a 10/80/10 rule: about 10 percent of people will quickly get control of themselves and behave in a rational manner; about 80 percent will be bewildered, confused and largely inactive; about 10 percent will be hysterical.”
If you ask me, I want to be part of the 10% that behave in a rational manner. My family and friends will be ready.
What Should Homeowner Emergency Preparedness Entail?
The first step with any plan is to make sure everyone knows there is a plan. Let’s start with basics for homeowners:
- Keep emergency numbers in one location so all occupants can access them. Aside from 911, you may want to include numbers for the Fire Department, the Police/Sheriff’s Department, utilities, and the poison control line.
- Check smoke alarms and fire extinguishers on a regular basis.
- Teach everyone who is able how to turn on and off gas lines, electricity, water, irrigation water and propane tanks. If special tools are required, make sure they are easy to access.
- Assemble a homeowner disaster bug out bag. Even if you are not a secret agent, you can make a usable bug out bag. A bug out bag should contain these items:
- Important financial information, titles, deeds, bonds, insurance policies, money, and debit cards
- Passports, birth certificates, ID cards, and insurance cards
- Doctors’ information, pertinent medical records, lists of medications and filled prescriptions for those medications
- A list of all the phone numbers you may need in the event you cannot return to your home
- Heirlooms and small valuables: I suggest digitizing all your family photos and storing them on a USB drive so you can keep them in your pocket.
- A first aid kit
- Spare keys
- A 72-hour kit: more on this below
Talk About Your Plan With Your Family
From leaky pipes and fires to blizzards, floods and earthquakes, a homeowner should plan to face any disaster. Family members and roommates should all know the plan and the part they play if a disaster occurs.
Get everyone on the same page by making sure they can answer these questions:
- Where do we evacuate to if we must leave the house?
- How will we contact each other if we are split up?
- How will we deal with animals and livestock?
- What should we do in the case of __________?
- What are the bug out bag and 72-hour kit? Where are they located?
Homeowner 72-hour Disaster Preparedness Kit
The purpose of putting together or purchasing a 72-hour homeowner emergency kit is to provide for your family for 72 hours. It often takes time for rescue personnel to arrive in a large disaster, so 72 hours of supplies is recommended. 72-hour kits can be purchased online and can range in price from 30 bucks to a couple hundred.
Here is an example of a 72-hour kit. If you are preparing your own, How To Make a 72-Hour Kit for Emergency Preparedness goes into extreme detail and includes a downloadable PDF.
Your kit should include at least the minimum needed to survive. This means everyone should be able to have water, food, important medications, and shelter or warmth. I recommend you include: at least one gallon of water per person, easy-to-open no-cook food, a plastic tarp, items for warmth, fire building tools, a hand-crank flashlight, and a hand-crank radio.
As a former commander and current member of the Sanpete County Search and Rescue, I encourage you to carry a 72-hour kit in your car when traveling into the mountains or wild land areas. Disaster preparedness is not just for at home.
Now that you know how a good homeowner emergency preparedness plan can help protect your home and your family, don’t put it off! Do it this weekend.
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.