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One of the most basic lessons that seems impossible to learn until you’ve experienced it: the storms WILL come. Sometimes those storms are personal tragedies like sudden deaths, business failings, or addictions, but sometimes they’re “acts of God.”

Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, natural disasters-

Not a fun subject to talk about, but one that needs to be addressed BEFORE the conversation turns to “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve”. Just ask anyone that was in the path of Florence.

No one ever expects to find themselves in the middle of a full-on emergency. It’s not something we like to think about — much less plan for. But in order to stay safe and healthy, and keep your head above water (sometimes literally), it’s important to have a game plan.

So, let’s talk about it.

What should you do before, during, and after a natural disaster?

  1. First thing’s first. If you are in an area that is under evacuation — EVACUATE!  Don’t wait. Get your family. Get your pets. And, GET OUT! There is absolutely no material thing that you possess that is worth staying for. Even if your material belongings have deeply rooted sentimental value, they are still not worth a life. The memories attached to those things can never be taken from you. They’re yours forever.

Remember: Things can be replaced. Lives cannot.

  1. If you find yourself having to ride out a storm, make sure that you have enough food and water (at least three days worth) on hand to keep all the people in your care nourished. Because you may end up with a power outage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. With doors closed, refrigerated foods will stay cold for up to four hours, but will then start to warm up to room temperature. Many foods will spoil fairly quickly: most meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, and deli items. On the other hand, frozen foods in a packed freezer will stay safe for 48 hours. If you think you’re going to be stuck in place for a while, you may want to consider eating the perishables first, saving the non-perishables for later on. If you have more than you can quickly eat, share it with your neighbors! BUT, if you’re uncertain of something, don’t eat it!

Remember: If in doubt, Throw It Out!

  1. If you don’t have a reliable, safe water source, you can make your own safe water supply by following these steps the CDC has laid out–

If the water is cloudy:

  • Filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter OR allow it to settle.
  • Draw off the clear water.
  • Bring the clear water to a rolling boil for 1 minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for three minutes).
  • Let the boiled water cool.
  • Store the boiled water in clean sanitized containers with tight covers.

If the water is clear:

  • Bring the clear water to a rolling boil for 1 minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for three minutes).
  • Let the boiled water cool.
  • Store the boiled water in clean containers with tight covers.

Safe drinking water is vital to staying healthy and hydrated. Most people can survive weeks without food, but only a couple of days without water. If you get desperate, you don’t need an extra element of sickness because of unnecessary germs and bacteria. 

Remember: Keep your water clean by storing in sanitized containers.

Those are some practical ways of keeping your family safe, and they’re all things you can do NOW before a disaster hits.

For more life-saving information (From finding lost loved ones to finding temporary shelter, to replacing lost or damaged vital records to returning home), you’ll find much more information and here.

If you find yourself in the middle of an actual disaster, don’t lose hope. There are always people around who are willing to help. As the old adage goes, “This too, shall pass”. You will find that the sun shines after the rain. There was a Promise given, with a rainbow attached to it, that gives us hope.