If you believe that you’ve seen the last disaster in your lifetime, you’re likely in for an unpleasant surprise. There’ll almost certainly be another one that you’ll need to deal with, such as a storm, blizzard, tornado, flood, or earthquake. The worst thing you can do to prepare yourself for such an event, however, is worry. Instead, the best thing to do is to make sure you’re ready.

There are many ways of preparing for an emergency, such as predicting the kind of disaster you can expect and packing your “go bag” to prepare your home and planning on how it can be returned back to normal once the disaster is over. Here are a few things you can do to prepare you and your family for an emergency.

Make a Plan

When chaos ensues, you’ll need to ensure that everyone in your household knows exactly what they should do. Designate a nearby place for you to meet, and another further away in your area. Then place a map on your wall with the designated places marked. You’ll want to place this map close to your emergency kit.

It also helps to write down key contacts on a piece of paper and keep it handy should the power go down and you’re unable to charge your cell phone. Keep a copy of these contacts in your emergency kit, too. Make a plan to check in with your relatives should local phone lines become jammed. Texts will often reach the recipient, even with clogged phone lines.

Prepare Your Home

If you have time during a power outage, unplug electronics and appliances, and turn off all air conditioning units. You should do this whether you intend to stay in your home or not. This will ensure that no damage is caused when the electricity returns. Leave a lamp on, as it will help you see once the power returns.

If water lines could potentially be impacted, you should fill the tub with water and turn off the line. You should then use this water for sanitary reasons, such as pouring down the toilet after use and washing your hands.

Pack Your “Go Bag”

If you need to leave your house in a hurry, you should have a number of essentials prepared and all ready to go. Store these supplies in a container in the part of your home where you’ll take shelter. These items should include extra batteries, a whistle to seek help, and a first aid kit.

You should also have a smaller version of your “go bag” at work that includes such necessities as a flashlight, non-perishable snacks, or walking shoes. And keep enough cash ready for five days of basic needs like food and gas. It will help if your local ATMs go down.

Once you’ve prepared your “go bag”, you should go through it once a year at least, in order to remove any expired batteries or food.

Stock Your Pantry

If disaster strikes and you and your family find themselves stuck at home for days or longer, you’ll need healthy and high-calorie foods that can remain stable on a shelf. Your stockpile of survival food can include healthy canned foods, canned vegetables, canned tomatoes, dry pasta, boxed grains such as sorghum, buckwheat, or quinoa, mixed nuts, olives, canned salmon or tuna, mustard, ketchup, tomato sauce, soy sauce, salt, pepper, chill seasoning, onion powder, and garlic powder.

Know How to Store Food Properly

How your food is stored is important for when you salvage it later. If there’s a possibility of a flood, store your dry goods away in waterproof containers and high enough so that they won’t be exposed to contaminated water.

Store food together in your freezer, as it will help it remain at a lower temperature for longer should there be a power outage. If you’re warned of a disaster in advance, freeze any food items that aren’t immediately needed, such as fresh meat, milk, and leftovers, to ensure they remain at a safe temperature for longer, and put as much ice in your freezer as possible. Coolers full of ice can help should the power be out for longer than four hours.

While you should avoid opening and closing the refrigerator door in the event of a power outage, keep an appliance thermometer in the fridge and another in the freezers, as it can help you decide on whether it’s safe to eat the food or not. The temperature in the fridge should be at under 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while the temperature in the freezer should remain at under zero degrees Fahrenheit.

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