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Disaster preparedness: Start the new year prepared

The start of a new year is the perfect time to ensure your disaster supplies are up to date. While disaster planning isn’t usually at the top of everyone’s to-do list, a small amount of planning now can make a big difference when you’re faced with a natural disaster or emergency.

This story was published in the Winter 2022 issue of The Washington Nurse magazine.

Start the new year prepared

The start of a new year is the perfect time to ensure your disaster supplies are up to date. While disaster planning isn’t usually at the top of everyone’s to-do list, a small amount of planning now can make a big difference when you’re faced with a natural disaster or emergency.

Creating a disaster plan can feel daunting. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get started, as well as resources to facilitate planning with confidence.

Know the dangers in your area

Depending on where you live in Washington, it’s possible to experience floods, wildfires, unhealthy air conditions (smoke), earthquakes, excessive heat or cold, snow, tsunamis or other natural disasters.

Recommendations

FEMA recommends having at least 72 hours’ worth of emergency supplies, while Washington state recommends being “two weeks ready” if disaster strikes.

  • Start to build up your emergency supplies slowly. Consider building a kit to keep at work or in your car. If you already have home supplies on hand, consider adding to them and building your supply.
  • Pets and small children may need additional emergency items. Don’t forget formula, diapers, pet waste bags or other necessities.
  • Don’t forget your medications and other supplies like CPAP batteries, blood sugar test strips, etc. It can be hard to keep extra prescription medication in an emergency kit — the important thing is that you know where to find needed medications and supplies quickly, should the need arise.
  • Consider comfort items — things like a game or some candy can go a long way if you need to use your disaster supplies. A favorite toy or blanket can help calm a pet or small child.

Resources

Check out the following resources to help you get started:

The Washington Emergency Management Division has a “Prepare in a Year” plan for individuals and families. Materials are available as a webinar, YouTube video and booklet (available in several languages). There are also resources and tips for preparing and caring for your pets in a disaster.

Ready.gov is a federal resource that has information about specific disasters; ideas for preparing kids for when disaster strikes; ways to sign up for emergency alerts; and more.

The American Red Cross has a quiz you can take to check the readiness of your emergency kit, plus a chat feature for any questions you may have.