Emergencies Happen!

Emergencies happen, no matter where you live. Mother nature has a tendency to throw difficult situations at us with the potential of devastating consequences–forest fires, floods, snow storms/ blizzards/icy hazards, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes… Sometimes we have advanced warning, yet other times disaster happens in a blink of the eye. And, then there are other types of emergencies that are caused by human factors–illnesses, death, loss of jobs, financial difficulties… No matter where an emergency stems from, how you cope, how you respond, depends on how well you put into place an emergency plan.

Summer time in Ushuaia, Argentina. Heading out to visit a penguin colony when a sudden summer storm hit the area.

Coping Mechanisms

The word “cope” means you are able to deal with a difficult incident when under duress. You know in advance what needs to be done. Emergencies require immediate action or an urgent need for assistance or some type of relief.

Coping mechanisms are the planned strategies to quickly adjust to stressful or potentially dangerous events. Now is a good time to begin think about circumstances and set up a strategic plan to know immediately what to do, where to go, what you need, who to call, etc.

Check out some of the emergencies below and think about ways you can BE PREPARED!

Power Failures

When plunged into the darkness, you are going to wish you had something to light the way. Be sure to have a supply of candles and matches/lighter handy, or flashlights or battery lanterns. A word of wisdom: Keep a flashlight in every bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, basement, and garage and stockpile fresh batteries. You just never know when the need will arise–winter or summer.

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Place rechargeable night lights in bathroom, kitchen and hallway outlets. If no outlets are available you will need battery operated lights. The goal is to have at least minimal lighting in normally dark areas. I use the battery candles that are placed in the windows during the Christmas holiday to keep my stairway lit during the night. It provides enough light to safely maneuver down the stairs. As these candle lights begin to dim, I install new batteries. Well worth the price of batteries to be safe rather than sorry.

If you have a fireplace, keep firewood on hand along with a few long-handled spears to roast those hot dogs or s’mores. Yum!

Get a Sterno or camping stove and keep a cache of canned and packaged foods that can be eaten with minimal amount of cooking. You might want to set up an emergency tote with portable cooking supplies along with extra paper products to eliminate dishes and glasses from piling in the sink during outages.

Electronics need to be kept charged even during a blackout, so consider getting a small portable battery pack. Besides being handy and easily accessible, it is an inexpensive item to have on hand to quickly recharge your cell phone anywhere. (As a side note, my family gave me a marvelous gift: a heated blanket that operates from the portable battery pack. This is great for chilly evenings in front of the TV as well as cold football games.) A more powerful solar backup just might be what you need to keep the refrigerator running during an extended blackout.

Think about what is important to you and research a solution to keep your life on an even keel during power outages. That is what being prepared is all about.

Snowstorms

Before the temperature begins to drop and the first snow flakes fall, be sure to have a few supplies on hand: snow brush/scraper, shovel, and rock salt or kitty litter. For those who live in the northern areas, we know how cold and dangerous a blizzard can be and usually have the proper clothing to keep warm. However, those folks in the lower areas of the country might just find themselves in a rare situation that requires items not readily available. So, why not be sure you have a warm hat, mittens, scarf, boots, heavy socks and multiple layers that will keep you warm during a cold spell. You don’t want to ‘wish‘ you had something warm to put on; you really want to know you have what you need when you need it.

Snow storms bring the potential of power outages as well. So read the above section again to rethink the needed items to cope with a blackout. The goal is to BE PREPARED!

Insurance

No doubt you have and will continue to spend a good sum of money on insurance for your home, possessions, vehicles, etc. Securing an insurance policy for large ticket items is a smart decision because you just never know when you will find yourself in an emergency situation and wonder if you are covered. Now is a good time for me to remind you that the policy is no good if you can’t find it or don’t have contact information at your disposal.

Take some time right now to search out the policy, make a copy to keep in your Grab-n-Go bag or scan the documents into your cell phone or into the cloud. You just might need this information with you if you are not able to get back into your home.

BE SMART and work on a comprehensive home inventory either on paper, digital or video. I can guarantee you that you will never remember everything you have in a stressful situation nor be able to answer the questions of when you bought it, how much you paid, and what is the replacement value. Preparing a home inventory is a valuable asset management opportunity.

Don’t let your home inventory become part of your property loss. Store this information digitally in the clouds where you can access immediately at home or away. Creating a home inventory before a catastrophe strikes will lessen your emotional stress during recovery.

Car

Prepare you car now for any contingency because you are likely to be using your car to cope during an emergency. Grab a tote for the trunk and stockpile basic necessities

  • Warm blanket
  • Quick dry towels
  • Bottled water
  • Snacks
  • Flashlight with fresh batteries or a rechargeable lantern.
  • Extra waterproof comfortable shoes
  • First Aid Kit
  • Emergency car kit that includes jumper cable, safety hammer, whistle, and old pair of gloves to protect your hands.
  • And, anything else you deem necessary in your particular situation.

Finally, plan periodic preventive maintenance: Oil changes, check treads and rotate tires, fresh windshield wipers…

Money

In today’s society, credit cards are the norm, but there are a few situations where a bit of cash saves the day. Always carry a spare $20 in a separate compartment in your wallet for those unexpected circumstances, and it might be a really good idea to have a spare credit card stashed in your car just in case you run out the house without your wallet. Consider a small pouch with a variety of coins as well. You never know when you need just a few extra cents.

Remember, when the power is out, you just might not be able to use the ATM or credit card machine. So, plan ahead and keep a ‘stash of cash’ handy for emergency situations.

Financial and Medical Information

With today’s extremely smart smartphones we have instant access to names, numbers, addresses, GPS, health information and so much more. So, be prepared and make sure all that information is up-to-date. Then make a printed copy to place in your Grab-n-Go bag. Yes, you will want to have an extra charging cable, but what happens if you have no place to plug in your cell phone? The answer is your financial and medical information is unobtainable until you get the phone charged.

Insurance cards, registration, license, and many other identification cards are easily stored in your smartphone by taking a picture and saving them under a separate album in photos or into the notes section. Just be sure you have a locked phone with a clever password or passcode to access these documents.

Even though my vehicle has a built-in GPS, I prefer to use Google Maps on my cell phone. What I noticed is that it wears the battery right down to nothing. If this is your situation, get a charging cable for the car and always keep your phone plugged in while driving. Now you know your phone will be ready when you arrive at your destination.

More Resources

Different Types of Emergencies and How Best to Respond to Them

Household Emergency Plan Template

How to handle 10 common home emergencies