How to be Prepared for Disaster Relief in Your Area

As past events and countless online MPH degree candidates can tell you, disasters can strike at any time, leaving you with little time to react. Before a disaster hits, make preparations for handling it so that you and your loved ones can stay safe while also having your needs met.

Perform Research

Know what disaster relief plans have been implemented in your community. Research evacuation routes, emergency shelter locations and methods of communication. Find out what disaster relief plans are in place at your place of employment or your child’s school or day care center. Talk with family members about your findings so that everyone will also be informed should the unexpected happen.

Develop a Plan

Decide on an out-of-town family member to act as a point of contact in the event you are separated from your family members. Ideally, your contact should be someone outside your immediate area that would be unlikely to be affected by the same disaster as you. Make sure everyone who is old enough to use a phone knows how to contact this person.

It can also be a good idea to set up a meeting place close to your residence or place of work in the event you are unable to return home. In fact, you may want to choose an alternate location just in case the first one is unavailable as well. Be sure the location you choose is in a safe neighborhood and easily accessible 24 hours a day in order to be prepared for disasters that happen at odd hours.

Prepare a Disaster Relief Kit

When tragedy strikes, you may not have time to gather important items. Having them readily available ahead of time can help eliminate some of the stress associated with hurrying to evacuate an area. Some things to have in your disaster relief kit include:

  • At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water
  • Manual can opener
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • Lighter or waterproof matches
  • Blankets
  • Change of clothing
  • Emergency cash
  • Pet supplies
  • Medications
  • Infant care items
  • Spiritually-comforting items (Bible, prayer book, rosary)

Go through your disaster relief kit three or four times a year in order to replenish items that have expired. Keep the kit stored in an easy-to-access location where it will also be clean and dry. A plastic storage container with wheels and a locking lid is ideal for this purpose. That way, it can easily be picked up and moved if need be, and you can also place it in the trunk of your car or back of a pickup truck if you need to leave suddenly.


Don’t wait until a crisis hits before thinking about what you would do with the four-legged members of your family. Since pets are usually not allowed in emergency shelters, know where boarding kennels and pet friendly hotels are ahead of time. Prepare a special emergency kit for your pets that includes medical records, medications, and a special toy that will make them feel more comfortable in their new surroundings.

Disasters are less stressful when you have a plan in place for handling them. Don’t forget to go over this plan from time to time and make changes as needed. With your current plan, you’ll be prepared for anything, and are much less likely to suffer a hardship.


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