Life can be full of surprises; no one of us knows what awaits us. Some things are not a matter of IF but a matter of WHEN. The car can break down, there is a good possibility of a gas leak; there may be a small or not so small house fire, the electricity power outage due to a storm or local emergency. Almost everyone has suffered a broken bone at one time or another. It goes without saying that one who is prepared in the face of an emergency will undoubtedly pass the crisis better than the person who has not prepared at all.
A television re-run of the old Under the Same Roof series reinforces this theory. Nerdy Steve Urkel joined his unwilling friends for a camping trip in the Canadian woods. Little did they know that their camp would be attacked by grizzly bears, that their food would be eaten, and that they had pitched their tents on a water geyser. How did they get through it? Simple: Steve had been prepared! Not only did he provide them with dinner and a dry place to sleep, he was suited for everything. As much as they hated to admit it, without Steve, they would have been far worse for wear; hungry, wet, shivering and unable to sleep in their demolished tents. Steve's preparedness had saved the day.
In any case, it's always good to have a plan. Here are some basic criteria for being prepared and protected from the dangers that could separate you from loved ones or cause extensive material damage. Caring for small things in and around the house can help you mishaps will not only help you remain safe, it will also save you a lot of money in the longer run.
- Gas Leak. To prevent gas leaks, check first with the utility company to know where your pipes are located. They will be glad to flag them for you. If your pipes come in through the basement, don't use them as hangers for heavy items – this could weaken them and cause them to leak. Family members should be able to recognize the smell. Even small children should know that a funny smell accompanying a gas leak means to leave the house immediately.
- Power Outages. Electrical power outages can be a disaster for your home computer. Be sure to back up regularly on CDs, at least once a week. Keep a flashlight in each room to be prepared in case of darkness. A box of candles also doesn't hurt to have when long term electrical inaccessibility due to a storm or other disaster lasts for hours at a time.
- Frozen Water Pipes: Frozen water pipes can be prevented by shutting outdoor water sources off in the autumnal months and letting them run till they are dry. Remove garden hoses and store them in the garage.
- Fire: Smoke alarm maintenance is recommended, meaning check the batteries for freshness. Be sure to dust or vacuum so the mechanism stays operable.
Since fires can break out in the kitchen (cooking), garage (chemicals) or front yard (barbecue or lighting fireworks), invest in multipurpose fire extinguishers. They can handle a variety of fires and provide a no-brainer solution in a moment when there is no time to analyze the situation. Grab and react – these will do the job.
- Escaping Fires: Flame resistant escape ladders are a must for families with bedrooms on the second floor. If there are rooms on opposite sides of the house, two ladders are necessary. Decide in advance upon a meeting place. Make sure that your home's address is and street number can be seen from the curb so that a firefighting crew or medical personnel can easily find you.
- Preparing For Natural Disasters: Get info for natural emergencies in your area, like earthquakes, tornadoes, fires, floods. Keep emergency numbers posted near the phone and in your cell phone for handy access.
- Emergency preparedness: Pack an emergency kit for the car, home or the office. Batteries, a flashlight, and drinking water for three days are basic staples. Protein bars, emergency cables and a lightweight cap are also recommended. A first aid kit is a must containing bandages and disinfectant spray for injuries. It should also contain flares and a reflective vest if your car breaks down at night.
- Planning Ahead: When disaster strikes, it's good to have two agreed upon meeting places, one close by and another far away, like at the closest park or landmark. If family members are separated in a disaster, phone lines may be down locally but not in the longer range. Decide upon a designated contact person to call, like an aunt or another relative in a neighboring city or state. This person can be phoned to leave both information as to physical whereabouts and a contact number.