Home Preparation for an Emergency
It's been a little over a year since the last big earthquake in Utah. I can remember exactly where I was when it occurred. That earthquake and the ensuing pandemic taught us a lot about preparedness and it's wise to sit up and pay attention to what we learned.
When preparing your home for a disaster, there are some things that will help in any situation:
What to do BEFORE an emergency
Safeguard your home. Check for potential hazards around your home and make sure everything is going to be stable and safe. Your home needs to be your place of refuge.
The physical structure:
- Bolt or strap down top-heavy objects, like bookshelves, water heaters and gas appliances, to prevent them from tipping over.
- Check electrical connections and gas pipes for faulty joints and connections.
- Be sure your home is anchored firmly to its foundation and structurally safe.
- Locate potential fire hazards and reduce their likelihood.
- Install smoke, propane, natural gas, and/or carbon monoxide detectors and test them regularly.
Items in your home:
- Place heavy objects on lower shelves. Securely fasten shelves to walls.
- Store bottled goods, glass, vases, china, and other breakables in low or closed cabinets or drawers.
- Store essential and/or unreplaceable items in waterproof unbreakable containers.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
- Remove hazardous objects (ie. mirrors, bookshelves, heavy pots, hanging plants, etc.) from sleeping areas.
- Properly store flammable liquids and gases and other combustible materials.
Be prepared at home:
- Keep properly rated and tagged fire extinguishers on hand and teach your family how to use them properly.
- Store copies of important documents, such as insurance policies, deeds, and property records, in a safe place away from your home.
- Keep a flashlight and or light stick, “jump-in” clothes, an extra pair of shoes and prescription glasses by your bed.
- Acquire tools such as an ax, shovels, brooms, rope, chain saws, plastic sheeting & tape, heavy-duty to use in an emergency
- You need to prepare your home and your family. Just because you have a safe home doesn’t mean your family will automatically know how to use the safety measures you’ve put into place. These are great family activities that everyone can participate in.
- Know where and how to shut off the gas or propane, electricity, and water at main switches and valves. Teach all responsible members how to do this. Instructions HERE. Tape the instructions to the appropriate areas for shut off.
Attach a valve wrench to the water line with a zip tie.
Write out instructions for turning off water & gas or propane lines.
Write out instructions for how to turn off electricity and what to leave on (fridge and refrigerator) if you have a choice.
- Work out a plan detailing how you will get back together if you are separated during a disaster.
- Discuss with your family what each person will do in case of a disaster.
- Remember this plan should be flexible regarding time and location of each individual during any time of the day, week, or year.
- Have an out-of-state contact telephone number that everyone can call to check-in with.
Hold occasional drills so that your family knows what to do during and after a disaster.
- Find out what to do and where to go in the case of an evacuation of your community.
- Learn the shortest and safest routes from your home, work, church, etc., to possible evacuation areas or centers. Take into account that you may not be able to travel in vehicles and may need to travel on foot or bicycle.
- Learn the warning signals given by government and local authorities, what they mean, and how to respond to them.
What to do AFTER an emergency
While preparing, we always hope that we won’t have to use our preps! But the mind is a funny thing. If we are always thinking about it not happening, when it does our mind will have a difficult time switching into the gear you need to react appropriately. Think about these scenarios as very real possibilities and go through what you will do after an emergency has occurred. This is the second level of preparation.
Perform first aid for immediate injuries in your own home.
Check for safety hazards such as gas leaks & water line breaks.
Do not use matches, lighters, appliances, or even electrical switches until you’re sure there are no gas leaks. *Do not shut off gas to the house unless you have reason to believe there is a leak. You have to have the gas company come to turn it back on.
If home is unsafe, leave! Take your 72-hour kits with you.
If home is safe, clean up messes that pose further threats (broken glass, exposed nails, etc.)
Check on your family, neighbors and friends
Prepare for aftershocks or further emergency situations
Take remaining wall hangings off walls – store up-side-down under couches or beds
Tie kitchen cupboards together, tape doors shut, or remove breakable items.
Remember: stuff can be replaced. Focus on what really matters!
Get on your emergency communication systems for news about the situation
Start working on your basic needs - safe air, protection from the elements, water and food.
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