Thursday, September 5, 2013

What’s Waiting in Your Safe Place? 3 Actions for a Severe Weather Watch

A severe weather watch issued in your area is your signal to take 3 actions before a severe weather warning is issued.

1. Make sure your weather alert device is on and has working batteries (and a fresh set nearby). Of course, this should be checked regularly during your region’s storm season, but a double-check when a “watch” is issued is important. Have one warning device ready to take with you to your home’s “safe place” – the space in your home where you go with your family once a warning is issued.

2. Everyone in the home should wear a flashlight, whistle and shoes. Wearing shoes or having them immediately accessible can help avoid injuries from broken glass or other debris after an event. An around-the-neck lanyard or a pouch for clipping to clothing will keep a small flashlight and loud whistle handy for children. Not only is the light important for getting to your home’s safe place if your electricity goes out, but a light and whistle can aid in rescue if someone becomes trapped beneath debris.

3. If not already there, your emergency “go bag” or 72-hour kit(s) should be taken to your safe place. Ditto for your purse and/or wallet and vehicle keys.

  • Your go-bag, also sometimes called a 72-hour kit, should contain things such as copies of important papers in a waterproof pouch, nonperishable snacks, survival supplies, etc. Several good lists for 72-hour kits are available online, but make sure to modify the kit for your own family. The paperwork is important in case your originals are damaged or missing after a storm. You may need the info for insurance claims, medical care, etc.

  • If you do not have extra supplies waiting in your safe location, at a minimum take some bottled water, blankets and pillows when a watch is issued. A warning may last only minutes, but it could also last for hours. Also have your purse, wallet and keys.

Make these preparations during a watch, so you’ll be ready to take shelter immediately if a warning is issued.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bedside Preps: Read Before Sleeping

Your nightstand – it’s one emergency preparedness location often neglected even though it is among the most likely to be used.

Consider this scenario: Your smoke detector screeches at 3 a.m. You check your bedroom door handle for heat. It isn’t hot, so you cover your nose and mouth as you head toward the front door where your evacuation kit (72-hour kit or “go bag”) waits in the closet. But thick smoke blocks your exit through the front door, and you have to feel for the walls as you run for the back door.

Safe outside, you want to call 911, but you always leave your cell phone charging on the entry table. A neighbor runs out to say he has called for the fire department, and only then do you catch your breath and realize you are standing outside barefoot with one foot bleeding. Your car is in the drive, and you’d love to hop in and move it away from the house while there is still time. But your keys are on that same entryway table.

Now, consider if the same thing happened and you had an infant to rescue before you felt your way to the back door. You would be standing barefoot outside holding your child with no extra blanket and no way to move your car and use it as shelter while you wait for the fire truck. 

You get the picture. If you cannot get to your “go-bag,” you may be left with no supplies for your most immediate needs. Here are suggestions for what to keep immediately at hand in case of emergency -- consider having at least the first 3 at your bedside tonight!

1. A pair of slip-on, sturdy-soled shoes.

2. A flashlight and a light stick (because you do not want to turn on a flashlight if you smell gas).

3. A spare car key, perhaps on a keychain with a mini-LED flashlight to take care of item #1. The key should hang from something with enough substance to grab onto easily in the dark. If you can get into your car, you will have shelter, transportation, and your car’s emergency kit (you do have one, right?).

(Side Note: Depending on how far your bed is from your vehicle, you may want to get in the habit of keeping your main key fob at your bedside. Test to see if the “panic button” on your key fob will set off your car’s alarm from your bedroom. If you ever wake to sounds of an intruder, you can press the panic button to attract attention and perhaps scare off the criminal.)

4. Purse or wallet and “everyday carry” kit. Your wallet contains your most-used ID plus financial resources. Doesn’t it make sense to have it within grabbing distance if you must run from your home during the night?

5. A cell phone such as an older phone still capable of dialing 911. Or make it a habit to charge your current cell phone on your night table.

6. Glasses if you wear them.

7. Loud whistle. Special emergency whistles that are small but quite loud can help rescue crews find you if you do not make it out of the house.

8. Dust mask (for smoke or debris dust).

9. Copies of important papers in a waterproof bag or pouch. Or, scan documents and save them on a thumb drive. Emergency situations are exactly the time you will need your insurance policy numbers, a copy of your birth certificate, financial account numbers, etc.

10. Mylar emergency blanket or pocket poncho. Provides some warmth and a little shelter from rain while outside.

Sounds like a lot of stuff, right? But most are quite small. One suggestion for organizing these things is to have a small tray on your nightstand to hold your mini flashlight, car key, wallet, glasses, and possibly your charging cell phone. The other items can be stored in an open tote with handles. If you are startled awake by a crisis, it takes mere seconds to dump the items from your tray into the open tote, grab the handles and run. A woman’s purse can serve the same function if it is large enough. A woman carrying a smaller purse can simply get in the habit of setting it inside the bedside tote each night.