Disasters can happen anywhere at anytime. One minute the weather is perfect and the next its flash flooding, tornado warnings or significant storms. The key to making it through any life threatening situation is to remain calm, stay aware, and try to be as prepared for the situation as possible. Part of the reason people wind up in need of rescuing is that they were not adequately prepared or ignored the warnings. Other times it is simply just plain bad luck. Regardless of the reason you still want to be as proactive as possible, so we have come up with some helpful tips to help keep you and your family safe when disaster strikes.
Before setting out on your adventure find out what disasters are common in the areas you will be staying. Research how to prepare for those specific disasters and where emergency shelters are. You can find printouts and pamphlets on websites such as FEMA and local government agency sites. Make a list of local emergency numbers such as the fire department, police, and EMA as well as local radio channels for emergency announcements. Develop a written emergency action plan for evacuations as well as sheltering in place and go over it with your family.
Your emergency kit plays an essential part during a catastrophe.The Department of Homeland Security suggests you pack enough supplies for a minimum of three days. Check your emergency kit and make sure everything is accounted for, working, and not expired. You should have a dedicated bag that can sustain you for at least 72 hours that contains the following:
Map of the area
Battery or Crank Operated NOAA Radio
One pair of extra clothing per person per day
Personal Hygiene Kit
Flashlights and Batteries
Water proof matches
First Aid Kit
Extra Prescription Medicines
Extra Glasses or Contacts
Activities for children
Pet supplies if you have pets with you
At least twenty dollars in small bills in case you cannot get to a bank or ATM.
Emergency contact list
Don’t rely on electronic devices to remember phone numbers. Make a list of the contacts you will need such as your doctor and a long distance family member to check in with should the need arise. Keep them in a water proof bag or container along with copies of your identification and insurance cards. During a disaster, you are more likely to be able to reach an out of state number as most local lines will be overwhelmed with calls. You can sometimes contact someone quicker via text message or social media. Facebook for instance, now has a button you can use to check in and mark yourself as safe should something happen in your area.
When you arrive at the camp site, you will want to find out where the emergency evacuation routes are as well as obtain an Emergency Plan and Procedure List if the park provides one. Be sure to ask the park personnel where the nearest emergency shelters are and make sure everyone in your family is aware.If you are traveling with pets, ask about the pet policy in the community storm shelters as some shelters will only let you bring in certified service animals.
Once you are in your campsite make sure to place your emergency bags somewhere that is readily available inside your cabin or RV and make sure everyone knows where to find them. In an urgent situation, you do not want to be fumbling around looking for things. Hang keys and other items such as purses or bags on hooks near exits and keep shoes by the door. Getting into a habit of doing stuff like this will make responding to an emergency situation go a little smoother allowing for more time to respond or prepare.
Lastly, if you do happen to find yourself in severe weather make sure that anything outside in your camp site that could become airborne and cause damage is secured or brought inside. If you are in a cabin stay away from windows and metal objects. If you are traveling in an RV, seek alternate shelter within the campsite or, if there is time, evacuate to another location. If evacuating is not feasible then you should secure the RV by disconnecting the utilities and turning off the propane tanks. Check that all windows, doors, and exterior storage areas are locked, and pets are inside.
During a severe weather event, there will be a lot going on, and panic will only lead to you forgetting to do something or cause others to panic. The thing to remember above all is to slow down, remain calm and follow your plan.