PREPPING BASICS

How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster: Things Anyone Should Know Regardless of Location

Natural Cataclysm
David Dawson
Written by David Dawson

As a responsible person, living on planet Earth is extremely important to learn how to prepare for a natural disaster, regardless of your current location. Mother Nature is a patient entity but, from time to time, even she has her moments. Those moments cost us human lives and destruction, losses of billions of dollars and trauma.

Some natural disasters are predictable and give you some time to prepare before the moment of impact but others wake you in the middle of the night without the smallest warning. That is why preparing thoroughly and in advance can give you the upper advantage.

Types of natural disasters and their features

When we say natural disasters, we make reference to earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, tornado’s, hurricanes, landslides, volcanoes, wild fires, extreme heat, extreme cold, and so on. As you can see, there are lots of natural events that can kill us and the ones we love in a matter of seconds.  This idea shouldn’t make you panic but it should raise alarm signals in your head. If you haven’t thought about preparing for natural disasters, now it’s time to start!

Natural Disasters infographic

The main advantage we have (besides preparedness) is that some of these disasters favor certain areas. But, highlighting the word “some”, many disasters don’t need a special place to be born.

Natural disasters that happen in a certain area:

  • Volcano eruption – these happen only where there’s a volcano and scientists can predict this types of events. Usually volcanoes let you know that they are awakened with seismic activity and smoke.
  • Hurricanes– usually happen along coastal areas of the Pacific Ocean (still, rules are made to be broken). If your house is located along the coast, you should check our article on how to prepare your home for a hurricane.
  • Landslides – these are a natural phenomenon produced by human activity. Massive deforestation and a certain type of soil lead to landslides.

Disasters that don’t care about geography:

  • Earthquakes – difficult to predict and almost always unexpected (unless you live in an area with frequent earthquakes). A few steps to follow in this case are described in our article on how to prepare for an earthquake.
  • Tornadoes – they only need ideal conditions to happen (dry air meets wet, heavy air). They seem to favor certain areas but don’t be fooled by their behavior. Tornadoes don’t happen just in Tornado Alley! An amazing article explaining what are the signs of a tornado can be read here.
  • Wild fires – is the natural event when vegetation, woods and everything around you burns. If the fire is accompanied by extreme heat, it’s extremely hard to put down. We can find fire and vegetation in any place on Earth which means that a wild fire can also happen anywhere.
  • Extreme heat – doesn’t happen just in the desert or in Africa. Due to global warming and the Greenhouse effect global temperature is rising. More and more regions have the extreme heat problem which can be accompanied by the wild fire problem. Also, extreme head during summer might mean extreme cold during winter.

The main conclusion after listing main natural disasters on our planet is that you need to be prepared for almost anything. Start today by getting informed on the main risks in your area and learn how to prepare for a natural disaster on that list.

Natural disasters

Choose the one that is most likely to happen and make a survival plan. Don’t forget to include your family in the creation of the plan, this way they will better understand the risks and how to avoid being caught unprepared. Don’t ignore disasters that happen rarely, for all you know one of those might strike before the one that is most likely to happen. Mother Nature is full of surprises and she loves playing with all 4 elements.

The complete guide on how to survive

The three main things you need to do in order to be prepared for surviving natural disasters are the following:

  1. Create a surviving plan, with your family, according to disasters that are likely to happen in your area;
  2. Put together and emergency kit for every member of your family and keep it in an accessible place;
  3. Consider other disasters that you may go through and prepare for those too.

Remember: even a predicted natural disaster can get you off guard so prepare everything in advance, practice your survival plan at least twice a year and always check your emergency kit for supplies!

How to create a survival plan:

  1. Locate all possible routes of escaping the house (and don’t consider just the obvious ones like front and back door). Make sure you consider windows that you can jump out from without hurting yourself, garage door, basement windows you can climb out through, and so on. It’s very important to know how to get out of the house from almost every room. When you’re trapped, it’s most likely that you won’t be able to use the conventional escape routes.
    Involve your family in finding and creating escape routes. This way, in case of high stress and panic they will be able to remember what you thought them.
  2. Locate all possible shelter places close to your home. After you get out of the house, you need to know where to go. Discuss with your family the plan of finding a shelter and agree on common places to meet in case you are not together when the disaster strikes. Also talk about routes and means to get to the shelter.
  3. Designate a contact person you trust and lives in another area or state. This person should be the one any of you can call in order to get news about other members of the family. During a natural disaster, families get separated quite often which is why you need a contact person. Talk to your family members and agree on the best contact person.
  4. Practice, practice, and then practice some more! Theory is, in many situations, very different from practice. Mistakes happen when you don’t do a routine practice exercise and, in case of a natural disaster, a mistake could cost you your life. The importance of practicing your plan, at least twice a year, will show its value in the actual disaster. Practice different situations with your entire family.
    For example, if you are preparing for an earthquake, ask participants to imagine different parts of your house destroyed by the seismic movement. Ask them to look for a safe place to hide during the earthquake and teach them how to exit the house after everything is over.
  5. Try a different approach during your practice for how to survive natural disasters. Try to escape with your eyes closed or using a blindfold. This way you’ll be more aware of the surrounding environment if the disaster happens at night and there’s no power. Also if there’s a fire and you can’t see because of the smoke.
  6. Draw a schematic of the evacuation plan and put it on the refrigerator door or in a place that is highly visible from the entire house.
  7. Don’t scare the younger members of your family. Children might not understand that this is just a drill and the idea of a natural disaster will definitely frighten them. Keep calm and explain as best as you can that this is for safety measures and they need to learn what to do, just in case. If they are really young try to make them understand using stories or toys. Ask help from a professional if you can’t seem to make your children understand. We also have a great article on how to teach children about tornado safety.

Now that you know how to put together a survival plan, let’s see how to actually implement the plan during a natural disaster.  To make sure you and your family go through hell and manage to get out safe and unharmed, you need to take a few tough decisions.

Natural disaster infographic

The first, and probably the most important one is for which type of disaster you want to train for.  If you live in a less blessed area, you might have more than it’s necessary on your plate. For example, in 2004, Hurricane Ivan was the cause of 127 tornadoes in 9 different states. Even two days after the hurricane lost its power, Alabama was hit by tornados created by its destructive power.

  1. Check with local authorities and determine the main hazards you could face.
  2. Try to create separate plans for each type of disaster but also highlight the common points.
  3. Always stay up to date and try to have at least three alarm systems in the house. Outdoor alarms might not be enough so make sure you get text warning via phone or mail. Local authorities use these systems to warn population. Also include a battery powered AM/FM radio in your warning system kit. We covered some of the best choices for this gadget in our reviews on how to select the Best Emergency Radio.
  4. Watch the news when there’s bad weather or earthquake alerts.
  5. Put your emergency kit in a water-proof bag so, in case you need to walk through heavy rain, your supplies will be protected.
  6. Be very careful when you decide what to put in the emergency kit. You will need objects from the following categories:
    • Food – non-perishable  foods like energy bars and canned foods
    • Fresh water
    • Clothing – it’s better to wear more layers so you can adjust body temperature according to the surrounding environment
    • Footwear – always take a back-up pair and make sure it’s water-proof
    • Medication – if one of your family members needs special medication prepare it to be put in the emergency kit. The same if you have pets under medication
    • First aid kit – if you don’t know what to pick, we have you covered with a great selection of first aid kits.
    • Accommodation items like sleeping bags and tents if you need to sleep under the clear sky
    • Safety items like flashlights, batteries, pocket knife, multi-tool, and so on
    • Don’t forget about other members’ needs like pets and babies.
    • Consider including a firearm and ammunition in your emergency pack (if it’s legal in your area). Usually natural disasters attract all sorts of bad people that try to profit from your disorientation and pain. To give you a head start in choosing one suited for this situation, check out our reviews on best SHTF weapons.
    • Always make sure you have enough cash.  In case of disasters, people tend to empty ATMs in the area. Also banks are closed if there are electrical power problems or other systems don’t work.
    • It’s better to pack supplementary emergency kits for your car and one in case you need to go on delegation.

If you need more details, we have a great article on how to put together the ultimate Bug Out Bag.

And remember be patient, but very vigilant and aware of your surroundings, if you want to survive and protect your beloved.

Life after surviving apocalypse

There are many information about how to prepare for a natural disaster but no one can actually prepare you for the “after disaster” stage. During the disaster the adrenaline is at maximum level and you are glad to be alive and safe, away from the wrath of nature. After everything calms down and authorities say it’s safe to return home you realize that the beautiful world you used to know is not so beautiful anymore. Natural disasters have a special way of turning worlds upside down that, in many cases, brings people close to desperation.

The plan to surviving natural disasters must have a final chapter where you prepare for the worst situation. Problems start with minor property damages to complete and total demolition of your home and everything you ever worked for. The before and after picture can be extremely different from one location to another which is why, when you start your trip back home you need to be prepared. Also try to prepare your family members for this type of situation.

Damage after disaster

One of the safest ways to protect your assets and property is to have good insurance. This should be included in your plan for surviving disasters; actually it should be one of the first steps you make to prepare. Preparedness means to take care of the things you left behind too. This way, if the worst happens and your house is flat to the ground, you can start to rebuild and recover your loses. It will be difficult but not as difficult as starting from scratch again. Check with local authorities and find out the best way to insure your personal property against natural disasters.

In conclusion, natural disasters test our nerves and strength of spirit every year but if we live it all to chance then the only person to blame is us. There are ways we can prepare ourselves and our families and ways we can protect our assets, we just need to access the knowledge and learn from other people’s experiences.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Dawson
David Dawson

David Dawson is a retired security specialist with over 20 years of experience. He worked for a secret manufacturing facilities and hospitals in Illinois. David's responsibility was to protect people in case of any disaster or cataclysm that might occur. Now he keeps on doing it through teaching others about how to prepare and survive flood, earthquake or even war.

  • Kseniya Pulishy

    I consider that in present time article more than is actual. Really, there are natural disasters that are not covered by the geography. If to be honest, for the first time I hear about an extreme heat. In the theory very much everything very good, nice and correctly written. But, in most cases, when disaster strikes, people are frightened ans forget what to do. And most of people think that never such will happen to them, and not pay attention to such articles. Very informative and helpful. Thanks.

  • Well that’s why we have to train for such a situation :)

  • Barbara Smith

    I always keep an emergency duffel bag for me and my family. This way, when an emergency strikes and we’re required to flee the area, we can just grab our bags and be on our way to safety. It’s also relieving to know that practice drills are being done in school so my biggest disaster preparation problem now is how to convince my kids into eating emergency foods because they find it too bland haha! In any case, I thank the contributors of this website for sharing what they know. Helps a whole lot :)

  • David Dawson

    You do not have to do much convincing because the circumstances will drive your kids to like the emergency food.