It’s so easy to overlook our companion animals when we’re planning for emergencies. Time and again, we see news stories of animals that were left behind to weather natural disasters on their own. Many of such animals don’t fare well and it’s often a huge source of distress to their owners and families – even after the disaster. Thankfully, there’s has been a lot of government focus in pet emergency evacuation and facilities have been put in place to that effect. Now all you have to do is create a pet preparedness plan and include it in your family emergency plan. Planning ahead will not only help you keep your pet safe in an emergency, it can also increase their post-emergency resilience.
To keep your pets safe and their chances of surviving emergencies or disasters high, you have to:
Start by ensuring your pet has proper identification. Collars and ID tags must fit properly to reduce the chances of their coming off. Check to make sure the contact information on the tag is current. If you haven’t gotten your pet microchipped, we recommend you do so. It’s a permanent form of identification and proof that you’re your pet’s rightful owner. A microchip is also a great means of identifying smaller and exotic pets. You can also consider putting a GPS tracker on your pet.
Find out if your local authorities have a pet evacuation plan and consider signing up for it. If you’d rather evacuate with your pet, Find out in advance whether the place you plan to shelter in has a pet-friendly policy. You can also make arrangements with out-of-town friends who wouldn’t taking your pet in. Your veterinarian is a good place to start asking these questions, if you’re wondering how to go about this. Write down the addresses and emergency numbers of 2 or more facilities you decide on.
You may not be home when things go down. Factor that into your plans; arrange with a neighbour or friend to check on your pet. Depending on the severity of the emergency, they may have to bring them to you at an agreed location; or hold them till authorities or your vet pick them up.
You may be asked to shelter at home in an emergency; plan to bring your pet into the house – and don’t forget their stuff.
Pack a pet emergency or disaster kit
Ensure your pet is as comfortable as possible wherever they’re sheltering by packing a pet disaster kit in advance. To keep your pet safe, her disaster kit should contain:
Non-perishable or canned food (about a week’s worth)
Water (about a week’s worth)
Daily medication (up to 2 weeks dose)
Important records e.g. vaccination history, medical history, prescriptions, your contact information, insurer’s contact number (if your pet is insured), vet’s contact number etc. These should be placed in a waterproof pouch.
Leashes, harnesses or carriers. They should be sturdy and readily available by your exit door or in your car.
Muzzle (pets might react badly when they’re scared or distressed; cat and dog muzzles are easy to find)
Litter box and litter material
Favorite toy or blanket for comfort
A few tips for evacuating exotic pets
For transporting smaller mammals and rodents, use a suitable carrier; one that’s the right size for them, and from which they can’t escape. Transport lizard and amphibians in reptile carriers. And snakes in a cloth bag (pillowcase) and place them in a plastic container. For pet birds, a travel cage can come in handy. Having the right type of carrier for your pet will make it easy to evacuate with them. And in the case of small pets, the carriers can act as temporary homes for them during the crises. This is certainly important if you want to keep your pet safe in an emergency.
Important: Practice evacuation drills with your pets. Use their carriers, leashes, harnesses and any appropriate restraining equipment. It’s a great way to get ready for real-life situations and will help your pet get use to them and the process.
Being prepared to evacuate your pets before things get bad can also help you fare better in an emergency. For one, you won’t have to consider staying behind as you can’t bear the thought of leaving them to weather the storm alone. You’ll have peace of mind knowing they’re safe and provided for. Moreover, preparing their own disaster kit means yours will last as long as planned. After all, no conscientious pet owner will let their pet suffer if they have a way to help. And before they know it, they’ll be running out of supplies.
Hurricanes are one of the most devastating forces in Mother Nature’s arsenal. It’s almost like a combination all of nature’s elemental fury in one catastrophic yet awe inspiring package. Damage to life and property from hurricanes are caused by the winds, storm surge, inland flooding and tornadoes that accompany them. There’s no stopping a hurricane; but there’s definitely something you can do to protect yourself and your family from it. And that’s probably why you’re searching the internet for how to prepare a hurricane. Thankfully, our article solves that problem by providing information on making a hurricane preparedness plan. It’ll also show you how to stay safe during a hurricane and after it passes. So grab a pen and notebook (you really should) as we begin.
Find out your hurricane risk
Hurricanes form over the warm waters of the tropical oceans. Hurricane season typically starts from the 15th of May and the 1st of June in the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic ocean basins respectively. And they both end on the 30th of November. Depending on factors such as wind speed, depth of storm surge and resulting damage, hurricanes are classified into categories 1 to 5. Let’s use a table to simply this classification.
Wind Speed (Mph)
Storm Surge (Feet)
Damage at Landfall
74 – 95
4 – 5
96 – 110
6 – 8
111 – 130
9 – 12
13 – 18
155 and Over
18 and Over
Thanks to advancement in weather forecasting and technology, you can know what to expect during hurricane season. Find out from your local authorities how at risk your neighbourhood is for hurricanes. You should also ask for the expected degree of impact and what plans are in place to protect people. Don’t forget to ask about evacuation plans, routes and shelters. Understanding how exposed your area – and ultimately you – is to hurricane risks is the first step to staying safe from hurricanes.
You can check out the National Weather Service website and sign up for its wireless emergency alerts program. When you’ve done that, get every member of your family to sign up as well. In addition to this, get a weather radio for backup – you know, just in case there’s poor cellphone signal. This way you’ll all get timely alerts on the weather situation and put your emergency plan into action.
Make a hurricane preparedness plan
After you’ve gotten all that hurricane information, the next step is to make a hurricane plan. Your hurricane plan is basically you family emergency plan but with hurricanes in mind. It should contain a communication plan and items for your go-bag or emergency kit. If you haven’t already made one, you can check out our article on how to prepare a family emergency plan for pointers. Remember to consider the special needs that any member of your household may have as you make your plan.
In addition to laying out the steps to take to keep your family safe from hurricanes, your hurricane plan also details how you’ll protect your home from hurricane damage. Here are some of the questions your hurricane plan should answer:
What to do in an evacuation
Location of the nearest designated shelter in your area
How your family will get there
In the case of lower category hurricanes, which rooms of the house are safest to take shelter in
What items to move indoors or strap down
how to make insurance claims on lost property
Staying safe in a hurricane
Hurricanes do not have a definite lifespan. While some hurricanes last for a few hours or days, many can last up to two weeks – and even a whole month. Part of learning about how to prepare for a hurricane is learning about how to stay safe in one. In higher category hurricanes, the raging winds carry and hurl debris that can hurt – or even kill – a person in its way. Flooding from the heavy rains and storm surges can wash away lives and properties. To keep your family safe in a hurricane, you can:
Fortify your home against damage by securing items that can be airborne or swept away in a flood. If it’s possible, you can take indoors, store them in your garage. Examples: outdoor furniture, barbeque grills, bicycles and other vehicles. Remove broken branches from trees near your house as they can become wind-borne missiles. Other ways to strengthen your home include sealing leaky doors and windows and clearing gutters and drains of clutter. Installing hurricane shutters and surge protection are also great ideas. Most importantly purchase or review your insurance policy.
Prepare for evacuation by learning all the evacuation routes ahead of time. And ensuring the members of your household know them too. Learn the location of designated shelters or hotel where you can your family can be safe from the hurricane. Aim to practice evacuating your family at least once so that everyone gets a feel for the process.
More tips on staying safe in a hurricane
Shelter-in-place by finding the safest place in your home to hid during a hurricane. During a hurricane, the safest place in your home are rooms without windows. If your house has a storm shelter, ensure everyone is there when the hurricane hits your area. Where there’s no storm shelter, an interior room, one without external doors and windows, is the safest place to hide in a hurricane. The closet, bathroom and stairwell space (in multistoried buildings) are popular suggestions from experts.
Stock up on supplies. Your family emergency kit or go-bag should be well-stocked. It should contain among other things a 3-day (at least) supply of water for everyone, non-perishable food, flashlights, backup batteries, first aid and medication.
When you know how to prepare for a hurricane, you give your self and your family higher chances for survival. What’s more, you’ll also be able to recover faster from any losses it may cause. Remember to make special plans for your pets. Check out animal boarding facilities in a safe area and consult your veterinarian for advise. For more information, take a look at our article on pet preparedness plan.
Earthquakes are unpredictable events. They can cause tsunamis, landslides, fires and lots of damage to property. Earthquakes are caused by the movement of huge bodies of rock deep within the earth’s surface. In the US, California, Alaska, Oregon, Hawaii, Utah, Washington, Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana top the list fro seismic activity. Now, no one knows when the next big one will happen but you can take steps to protect your family during an earthquake. Following earthquake safety steps can help you prepare for it and put your family at lesser risk for injury and loss. It starts with drawing up a preparedness plan. This plan will help your family get ready for an earthquake. And also guide on what to do during and after it.
How to prepare for an earthquake
Preparing before an earthquake involves learning how to protect your family during an earthquake and preparing your home for one. It also involves assembling an emergency kit for your family, supplies may be difficult to get in the aftermath of an earthquake. This is the best time for you identify the safest place to stay in an earthquake; both indoors and out. If you have an emergency plan, you may to review it to ensure it’ll do in an earthquake situation. If you don’t have one, learn how to create one here.
To plan ahead, you should:
Practise how to drop, cover and hold on. If you feel the ground vibrate, drop down to your hands and knees and cover your head and neck with your arms. Staying in this position provides protection for your vital organs. If there’s a table, desk or any sturdy piece of furniture nearby, crawl to it and take cover under it. Hold on to it till the shaking or vibrations stop. Practise this with the members of your family. The picture below, from ready.gov, illustrates the drop, cover and hold on moves for different scenarios.
Prepare your home. Reduce the risk for injury during an earthquake at home by securing heavy furniture. A lot of the injury sustained during earthquakes are from falling objects. Check your house for shelves, bookcases, mirrors, wall clocks etcetera that can fall or tip over. Fasten them to them floor or wall. Do not store heavy items on top shelves; move them to lower shelves. Take note of the location of utility shut-off switch (water, gas and power). It may be necessary to turn them off after the earthquake.
Create an emergency plan and kit. Your emergency plan should have a communication plan with an out-of-state contact person. Your kit must contain water and non-perishable food to last at least 3 days.
Buy earthquake insurance. Check with your insurer to see what their earthquake policy offer.
Staying safe during an earthquake
When the tremors start, do not panic. Rather, drop, cover and hold on. You can take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture nearby. You can also crouch in a corner of the room, one without windows. If you’re outdoors, move away from buildings, power lines and any structures; then drop and cover. If the earthquake starts when you’re bed, lie face down and use a pillow to cover your head and neck. Stay this way until the earth stops shaking. To protect your family during an earthquake, practice all this before the ground starts shaking.
Staying safe after an earthquake
If there’s has been serious damage to your building, carefully exit. Take your emergency bag with you, if it isn’t in a damaged part of the house. Before leaving a building, check for hanging or loose debris that could fall off. Do a headcount to make sure everyone is accounted for. Check yourself for injuries. Older members of the family can help the younger ones check. If you’re in a tsunami risk area, move inland once the shaking stops. Teach every member of your family these tips so that they know what to do.
Things you should not do during or after an earthquake
During an earthquake, do not try to go indoors if you’re outside. Find an open place; then drop and cover. Don’t run outside, if you’re inside.
During an earthquake, do not stand in or hold on to a doorway.
If you get trapped, send a text, hit or knock on a pipe to alert people. Do not shout or call out. This will protect you from inhaling excessive amounts of dust.
Your emergency kit, aka disaster kit, bug-out bag or go-bag, is an essential part of your emergency plan. Depending on how well you’ve stocked yours, your chances of faring well in a disaster can be high or low. However, you tip the scales in your favor when you’ve got the bare necessities – and more – packed and ready to go. So, when do you pack an emergency kit? What items need to be in your emergency kit? And how much of those items do you need to pack? You’ll find answers to these questions and more in this article.
When to prepare your emergency kit
The best time to put your emergency kit together is before a crisis or disaster strikes. The saying “In times of peace, prepare for war” holds true here. Natural disasters can occur or progress faster than predicted; so waiting for a warning before you start assembling your emergency kit can be dangerous. Moreover, some disasters (gas leaks, chemical spills, fire outbreaks, terrorist attacks etc.) can’t be predicted.
Basic emergency kit checklist
We’ll start by listing out the basic things every emergency kit ought to have. You may choose to buy a pre-assembled disaster kit or assemble your emergency kit by yourself. Whichever one you choose, your disaster kit should contain:
You’ll need a sturdy bag or container to store them in. A large bag with multiple pockets would do. If you decide to use a storage container, it should be lightweight, well-built and come with grips or handles. Although moving around with it on foot might be a hassle, it’ll fit well and transport easily in a car boot.
How much to pack?
It’s nearly impossible to accurately predict how long a natural disaster and its effects will last. And this is also true for any other type of emergency. However, the general consensus is to pack 3 to 7 days worth of items in your evacuation go-bag. This means that if you live alone, pack enough supplies to last a week. On the other hand, if you’re packing a go-bag for your family, you’ll have to pack enough to last everyone for about a week. For sheltering at home, store enough supplies to last you and your family for 2 weeks. Take any special needs that members of your family might have into consideration as you put yours together. If you have a pet, preparing an emergency plan and kit for them is also important.
To make the process of assembling your emergency kit less demanding, break it smaller tasks. You can put aside some money weekly for items you’ll need to buy. If you’d rather get the whole thing over and done with, set aside a weekend and a reasonable sum. And have fun with the process; you just might learn a thing or two.
Emergency kit preparation tips
Events like storms, hurricanes and flooding can cut off or contaminate drinking water. Always make sure you have enough water stored at home for when you’ll need to shelter at home. Store enough water to last for 2 weeks. For your evacuation emergency kit, include a gallon of water for each day. This means that if you’re preparing a family emergency kit, you’ll add 3 gallons for each person to last at least 3 days.
All that water can take up space and make your kit heavy. First pack the quantity of water your go-bag can take without sacrificing other items. After that, consider stocking up on iodine tablets to purify water on the go. Filter straws are also a good idea. If you run out of water while sheltering at home, they can also be used to purify suspicious water, after you’ve boiled it to rolling boil for a full minute.
Store non-perishable food in your house for when emergencies make food shopping difficult. Power might also be out so it’s important that your emergency stock is ready-to-eat. Aim to have food that meet your dietary needs and household’s. Remember to consider any special needs in your family as your stock up on food. Here are some food suggestions:
Canned fruits and vegetables
Baby food and ready-to-drink formula
Comfort food (e.g. chocolate)
Always check for expiration dates on the products you intend to store. Make a note to replace them as their expiry dates draw near. This way, your kit will be in proper order and thus useful to you. Store your emergency kit in a place where it’ll be out of the way yet easily reachable. Your car boot and hallway closet should serve as good storage spaces. You can put a kit in your work place and have your kids keep a mini emergency kit in their school lockers. After all, emergencies are unpredictable.
If you have pets, consider making an emergency kit for them. You can also discuss your emergency plans with neighbours and help them where you can. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the emergency kit is stored. And that they’re mindful not to move except to replace its contents. Putting together is an emergency kit is like buying accident insurance. You do it not because you look forward to using it; but because you know that if the time ever comes for it, you’d be glad you did.
Knowing how to tell if one is dealing with a predator is key to avoid falling for their deceit. Although it isn’t necessarily the first step to protecting your child from online predators, it’s important for a couple of reasons. One reason is that it’ll provide you with openings for discussing online safety with your children. Another is that such knowledge will put you in a better position to plug any holes that’ll make your child vulnerable to sexual offenders; both offline and online. So, how does one learn how to identify online child predators?
Know where they operate
Child online predators are on virtually all online platforms. They’re particularly abundant on platforms where their target victims are most active. Social media networks, online games, chat rooms and instant messaging are hot beds for predators. Thanks to the facelessness that the internet affords, predators hide behind false profiles that allow them blend into an online platform’s typical crowd. They’re also knowledgeable about teenage matters and trends; and they arm themselves with the appropriate lingo to fit in. This means that unless your child knows that she/he should treat online interactions with some degree of suspicion, they’d chat and interact freely with such predators. Thus placing themselves in harm’s way.
Know how they choose their victims
Online predators are deliberate in their choice of victims. They often stalk the accounts of multiple potential victims at a time and know how to identify vulnerable children. Predators assess the profiles, photos and posts of potential victims and are able to recognize kids who are lonely, seeking validation or attention, going through a hard time or lacking confidence. They target and befriend kids with posts or profiles that show any of these vulnerabilities.
Online predators are manipulative
They often start out by being charming, nice and helpful. They’re always ready to identify with the child and present themselves as the only ones who get what the child is going through. This obviously makes the target to relax and become comfortable interacting with them. The child starts to think that they’re interacting with a friend who’s cares about them. But the predator only sees him/her as an object being groomed to satisfy their depraved desires. With time, the predator begins to make subtle sexual comments and make sexual demands. Such demands can include requests for nude photos, showing them private parts during video calls; or even asking the child to touch their privates parts in a sexual way.
They are invasive
Online predators do not respect personal boundaries. Depending on the predator’s aim (to obtain explicit imagery or groom for one-on-one encounters), they take the required time to gain the child’s trust. A tell-tale sign that one is dealing with a predator is the haste with which they pursue the relationship. They go from hi and hello to asking personal questions like name, age, location and sex-related questions in a very short span of time. They’ll also work hard at isolating the child from their support system. This makes the child largely dependent on them for social and emotional support. And when the child is in that position, the predator is able to make the child comply with their demand.
Online predators are exploitative
Sextortion occurs when a predator threatens to share nudes, videos or other sexual material of victims if more sexual content isn’t sent or money paid. It’s basically blackmail. And predators don’t mind putting children through that horror for their own personal gain. Predators also engage in the sharing of CSAM (child sexual abuse material) with other predators across the internet. What this means is that a child can get re-victimized each time sexually explicit photos or videos of him or her is shared or viewed online. And seeing as the internet never forgets, those pictures never really go away and can be used against the victims.
Online predators are also inconsistent in the information they share. That’s because there’s often a lot of lies to keep up with. If an online acquaintance says they’re a certain age and sends a picture of someone older or younger, that’s a red flag.
A lot of work goes into studying online predators and the findings are largely depressing. No one really understands why child predators do what they do. But what we do know is that their actions have far-reaching devastating effects on the child. Knowing how to identify online child predators is a huge step in the direction of keeping your children safe from them.