How to be prepared for a natural disaster

Sharpen your survival skills in case disaster strikes.

By Donna Fleming

The earthquakes we’ve experienced around the country in the past few years have made us realise how devastating these natural disasters can be. It’s no surprise that many children are terrified at the thought of being caught up in one.

One way to deal with that fear is to help them feel prepared if a catastrophe strikes. Sit down as a family and come up with a plan of action should an emergency strike.

Things to consider:

• How to respond in event of different disasters such as an earthquake or volcanic eruption

• Where to store emergency survival items and who in the family will be responsible for maintaining them

• What you each need to have in your getaway kits and where you will keep them

• What you will need to do for your pets

• How and when to turn off water, electricity and gas

• What radio stations to tune into for information

• Where to keep all relevant insurance documents and other paper work.

Your emergency survival kit should include:

• Torch with spare batteries

• Radio with spare batteries

• Wind and waterproof clothing, sun hats, warm jacket, sturdy outdoor shoes

• First-aid kit and essential medication (asthma inhalers)

• Blankets or sleeping bags

• Pet supplies

• Toilet paper and large rubbish bags for your emergency toilet

• Face and dust masks

• Food and water for at least three days, including canned or dried food (don’t forget the can opener), drinking water (aim for three litres per person, per day), water for washing and cooking, a primus stove or gas barbecue for cooking.

In some emergencies (a volcanic eruption or flood) you may need to evacuate in a hurry. Each individual should have a packed bag accessible.

At-the-ready packed bag:

• Torch and radio with spare batteries

• Any special needs, such as glasses or medication

• Emergency water and food (muesli bars, nuts, dried foods)

• First-aid kit

• Change of clothes, including warm and waterproof clothing, hat and sturdy footwear

• Toiletries and toilet paper

• Blankets and sleeping bags

• Face and dust masks

• Important documents, such as identification papers and insurance policies.

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