How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster

Greater Boston has relatively few natural disasters. While Florida stresses over Hurricane Season, starting in July, we plan beach days. People in California all have an emergency kit, in case of earthquake. What do we have? The French Toast Alert System, to remind us to stock up on milk, eggs, and bread because a big snowfall is coming.  Few of us worry that weather will cause a significant threat to house and hearth. It’s a mistake.

Springfield,_MA_Tornado_2011This confidence is borne of long experience that dangerous weather and planetary conditions are short-lived or rare here. By the time hurricanes get this far north, they are weakened; tornadoes are rare. Our earthquakes are barely noticeable, and our volcanoes are long-dormant.



Our confidence is not justified. People in Massachusetts suffer damage because of flood during hurricanes and other heavy rain events. Trees fall on houses and power lines during tornadoes, microbursts, ice storms, and thunderstorms. Any of these can lead to evacuation and a long period of home repair.

flood.merrimackBill Robinson from DKI Services suggests these precautions:

Following a natural disaster, many homeowners expect help to arrive as quickly as possible. Yet did you know that most national-aid agencies and organizations might not be in place for up to 72 hours following the event? Calling volunteers, arranging transportation and sorting logistical issues often means you’re on your own for a certain amount of time.

However, the good news is, it can be easy to prepare for a disaster. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Create a get-home kit. Disasters don’t announce themselves or limit damage to evenings and weekends. Keep a kit at your office or in your car with a couple quarts of water, comfortable shoes and socks, a flashlight, a day’s worth of medications, a contact list of loved ones, and anything else you would need to get home. Planning on using your smartphone for several of these items? Get a spare battery, power pack or hand-cranked charger to keep it operating. A can of pepper spray discourages dangerous animals, such as large dogs that have escaped their kennel. Don’t forget some cash in case the credit card systems are down.

  • Keep in touch. Make a plan to contact someone outside your area for a check-in. When lines of communication are down within a region, you can often call or text outside the region more easily than you can within. Texts will often go through when calls won’t. Get a battery-operated or hand-crank radio to keep track of what you need to do in your area.

  • Stock an ample supply of food and water. Have at least three days’ worth of non-perishable food and a gallon of water for each family member per day stored in a dry location at home. Storing canned goods? Use the liquid from the can to cook pasta, rice and other dry foods. Caught without water? If you have a storage tank water heater, you can get water out of the drain near the bottom that looks like a hose faucet, but make sure your water heater is turned off first. Make dishwater do double duty by using one batch’s rinse water as the next batch’s wash water. Bail the old wash water into a bucket to flush the toilet.

  • Stay healthy. Make sure you have hand sanitizer and basic toiletries on hand, and a well-stocked first-aid kit. If it’s cold, pin a couple black garbage bags to the window side of your closed curtains where your home receives sunlight. These act as miniature solar heaters. Do not use any heater indoors not designed for that purpose, or you may suffocate from lack of oxygen. If it’s hot, use damp towels or sheets to stay cool.

Natural disasters are typically unexpected, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared for them. By taking a few simple steps, you’ll be in great shape to ride out the storm.

Author bio: Bill Robinson has years of experience dealing with disaster relief contracting as Commercial Solutions Vice President of Operations. DKI Services is a nationwide residential and commercial disaster remediation contractor that specializes in water and fire/smoke damage, mold remediation and contents packout/cleaning. 

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