You hear the wind howling outside; then comes the rain; that turns to ice; which inevitably turns to snow. There you are cozy, all wrapped up in a blanket, in your chair with some hot tea. As you watch out your window, seeing Mother Nature unleash her power, you can’t help but be so incredibly thankful you are indoors. Then all of a sudden everything goes BLACK. The power goes out. You realize that you never got those batteries for the flashlight, you are low on food and it’s only a matter of time before the cold settles indoors.

Have you had a similar scenario run through your mind? Or worse, has something like this happened to you before? Do you worry about your elderly loved ones living at home alone?

Well guess what? No need to panic! With some simple steps, you and your loved ones can be prepared for that next storm, which does not have to involve you constructing an underground bunker.

the last few years. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, in 2017, the U.S. alone experienced 16 billion dollars in destruction due to disasters.

There is a wealth of information out there in regards to disaster preparedness that can leave you feeling overwhelmed, and quite frankly, fearful and powerless. However, with proper planning and communication with your loved ones and friends, it can put some of that power back into your own hands.

The top 3 steps to take to provide some peace of mind for when that next storm hits:

1.) Gather items to create a disaster supplies kit.

  • Water- one gallon of water per person per day with at least a three day supply
  • Food- non-perishable with at least a three day supply. Don’t forget about your pets!! Be sure to include some food for them, even though they may appreciate human food
  • Flash lights and extra batteries
  • Emergency thermal blanket
  •  Whistle
  • Local and regional maps
  • First-aid supplies- band aids, alcohol pads, antibiotic ointment, gauze, gloves
  • Cash- in the event of power outage that may prevent use of credit cards or ATM’s
  • Additional items for your unique needs, such as- extra set of eye glasses, oxygen, extra set of batteries for wheel chair, catheters, blood pressure cuff, blood sugar monitoring equipment, extra medication if possible- such as insulin (discuss with doctor the possibilities) and over-the-counter medication

2.) Devise a medical plan.

Copies of health insurance cards, copies of pertinent health records, healthcare proxy, power of attorney, updated list of medications- including any special instructions, list of allergies, orders for medical equipment, doctors and pharmacy contact information. All of the paperwork can then be placed in your disaster supply kit.

3.) Develop a family communications plans.

  • Establish a phone chain among loved ones/friends to keep everyone in the loop and on the same page in the midst of a disaster
  • Designate a place where you can meet loved ones/friends if they cannot be reached by phone and need to evacuate. Ensure everyone has the address of the designated place
  • If loved one is in a community, be sure to ask the director what the plans are in case of evacuation
  • Give a copy of your house key to a loved one/friend who is going to be a part of your communications plan
  • Contact your local Red Cross to find out where the specified shelter is in your area

In summary, stock up on supplies, which can be a gradual process, and have a plan in place that is communicated with your family and friends. It is so crucial to have a network or support system in place before disaster strikes, even if it means reaching out to your neighbor to come up with a plan together. Taking these steps of preparation before the next possible disaster, will certainly help alleviate some of the anxiety and potential confusion that could take place.

For further information and ideas on how to be prepared, visit CDC.gov, Ready.gov, and Redcross.org.