"Hoping for the best and planning for the worst" is a common phrase when it comes to preparing for disasters. Being prepared also reduces fear, anxiety, and possibly reduces the impact of the disaster. Today you will have three ways to prepare you and your family in case of a disaster.

Things You Will Need

Paper to write out your plan, items for your emergency kit, and internet to access resources.

Step 1

Plan: Sheltering in place and evacuation

When told by authorities to shelter in place you should stay where you are until told otherwise. If a radiological incident has occurred you should go to the basement or underground room. If you are told to shelter in place due to a chemical incident, you should go to an above ground room with as few windows as possible. If you are in your car when told to shelter in place you should close the windows and turn off the air conditioner or heat and close the vents.

During an evacuation authorities will tell you that you must leave the location where you are. This is why it is important to have a meeting place for you and your family to meet up. If you are at home and told to evacuate take your emergency kit with you. If you have time (and know how) turn off your gas and water.

Step 2

Prepare: Emergency kit

There are many items that can go into an emergency kit. The following are the basics;

  • Water; you will need one gallon per person, per day.

  • Non-perishable food items like peanut butter, granola bars, etc

  • First-Aid Kit

  • Tools and supplies (plastic sheeting and duct tape for sheltering in place, flashlights, manual can opener, batteries, etc)

  • Pet supplies if you have pets.

  • Additional items depending on your family's needs. Think about your family; do you have an infant who may need formula or are you taking care of your elderly parents? What special supplies and needs do they have?

Please refer to www.ready.gov for a more detailed list for your emergency kit.

Step 3

Practice: Drill often

Despite popular belief, during a disaster crowds generally become quiet and docile. The biggest problem is that people do too little and too slowly. Animals go into the same state when they are trapped; they play dead, hoping to discourage the predators from attacking. The amygdala is the part of your brain that handles fear. A rat with a damaged amygdala will not freeze even when it encounters a cat. I am not saying that we should all damage our amygdales, but what I am saying is that the brain is trainable; if we can reduce our fear we might do a little better than a deer that freezes in your car's headlights. To do better we must practice and practice often, so that our brain can store the physical memory of the experience and know what to do in a disaster.

This article is not the "all inclusive" guide to planning for disasters, merely an overview of what is out there. There are many resources out there that can help you prepare for disasters. Check with your local Health Department or American Red Cross. If you are interested in helping out during a disaster, sign up to volunteer with the American Red Cross or with the Medical Reserve Corps. Remember, "Plan for the worst and hope for the best."

Tips & Warnings

This is not a comprehensive guide to preparing for disasters and does not guarantee that you will stay safe in a disaster.