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How To Prepare for Any Emergency Situation

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While the most recent emergency situations may be but a distant memory for those who were not affected by the hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and fires that have ravaged our country in the past year, there are many folks who remember all too well what it means to not be, at least minimally, prepared for any possible emergency. It could, therefore, behoove all of us to determine what might be necessary to preserve life and limb, and to start collecting the items that could prove to be so important should similar unthinkable things befall us.

There is a tendency to believe that just because we are not currently located in a flood-prone area that we will never have to worry about rising waters or that because we are not located in a forest area that fire could never threaten us. And while San Antonio and the surrounding areas are hardly considered to be coastal areas where most hurricanes flourish, we have in the past experienced damaging winds and rains that follow these storms on shore, that have reached this far from the warm tropical Gulf Shores.  

There are areas of Texas that experience tornadoes much more frequently than we do in Bexar and surrounding counties, but that certainly does not mean it cannot happen here. It is not prudent to second guess Mother Nature when it comes to what she may have in store for any part of our state, so being at least somewhat prepared could be considered wise. There is any number of weather events or accidents that can cause a home to be destroyed or at least left only partially habitable, so being ready could make the associated discomforts somewhat more tolerable.

An “emergency” can be defined as a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation that requires immediate action, be it to stay where you are and find a safe place within the house or prepare to evacuate immediately. In either case, it is important that one have on hand what will be needed later, because in cases of pending disasters it may be too late to determine what you would like to take with you on the way out the door. It is also important to recognize that each member of the family will need to have their own portable “to-go” bag, including at least one for your furry, four-legged family members.

Should disaster strike, you will surely remember afterwards all the things you wish you had thought to have ready to take with you if there was no going back. Well, there is no time like the present to be thinking that over. Let’s start with insurance coverage – do you have most of the potential causes of destruction covered and will the coverage be sufficient if there is nothing left when you come home? Do you have photocopies of each room showing all the contents, copies of the deed to the house, copies of pictures of all family members, names of important contacts, insurance proof, will(s), birth certificates, passports and driver licenses and all medical and immunization records, both yours and your pets? All these items and any more you can think of should be stored on an easy to carry portable storage device, such as a thumb drive, or kept in cloud storage.

For the larger essentials, lightweight backpacks with ID tags attached could accommodate items like water, food, and extra clothing. One or two bottles of water and several food snacks could be sufficient for each person, depending on the number of days you are displaced, but remember to periodically change out these items so they remain fresh. When choosing a pair of shoes to include in the pack be sure they are comfortable but also sturdy as you never know what terrain you might encounter. At least one change of clothing should be included, taking into consideration the season of the year and whatever else may need to be prepared for the various weather conditions, for example, a lightweight blanket. And, of course, you would want to include a container with bathroom essentials – toothbrush and paste, soap, comb and perhaps a towel.

A smaller bag that you insert into the backpack could contain those just-in-case items like a battery powered or crank radio and flashlight with all necessary extra batteries. Also include a butane lighter and/or matches, a pocket knife, can opener and a whistle or small walkie-talkie set to help keep track of all family members. In case something breaks along the way safety pins and a roll of tape would come in handy and if the emergency is fire, a gas leak or a chemical spill, then some small paper or cloth face masks could help. Another smaller bag for prescriptions, extra eyeglasses and hearing aids (and their batteries) could also be helpful. For younger children, you may need to include a favourite item such as a blanket or toy and don’t forget your pet’s food and water and perhaps a toy too. And, now is the time to consider how you will handle the needs of any disabled individuals in your family.

We all want things to just keep getting better for us every day but if we can’t have that we hope that they will at least remain the same without getting any worse. If we must face difficulties or disruptions to our daily lives, then it is better that we are fully prepared to face them, or at least to the extent over which we have some control. It is difficult to suggest to others in the family, especially children, that what they have become accustomed to could possibly change, and not for the better, so a little education might be warranted. The items listed above are just suggestions for you to consider when planning for what you might need in an emergency. Every family has different needs and requirements and it would be a good plan to alert all family members as to what is expected of them should the unexpected occur.

It is time to consider that someday a Fireman or Policeman might knock on your door to notify you that you MUST evacuate the area and more especially your home. Are you prepared to move out at a moment’s notice should this happen? Do your children and other family members know what is expected of them once you have been notified to leave? While “tomorrow is another day” it could be the day that you spend in preparation for the “someday” that will result in safety for all you hold near and dear.

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