On Day 14 of our Let’s Get Prepared! Challenge, we want to focus on those important items to keep in mind when you’re forced to stay at home, sheltering-in-place, during or following a disaster.
You may be sheltering in place because of something weather-related, like an ice storm or blizzard. It may not be safe to leave your house to leave due to storms. There may be a pandemic, a biohazard, chemical or radiological event. We’ll explore here what a shelter-in-place plan, either for basic safety or extreme measures, might involve.
If you are home because you are bracing against the elements, you may also be facing a power outage, extreme heat, freezing temperature. You’ll need to consider some steps to keep yourself and your family safe, as well as some measures you may have to take to address items in your home. Here are a few things to think about as you imagine your Shelter-In-Place plans and precautions:
- You will want to have your emergency supplies accessible, your communication plan handy, and be sure to gather your pets with you, if you have any.
- Lighting without electricity; Consider placements in your home of flashlights, and if you don’t already have one in every bedroom, add one. Look into battery operated lamps or solar charged lighting.
- Consider your heat sources and whether or not have the right amount of fuel on hand: wood, pellets, fuel for your generator, etc.
- One of the top dangers we hear about during blizzards and ice storms is carbon monoxide poisoning. Be sure to have detectors installed in your home (and test and change batteries twice a year), but be aware of risks. Space heaters, generator in the garage with fumes seeping into the house, or sitting in the car with the heat on but the tailpipe blocked, are examples of sources of tragedies.
- If there has been a physical disaster, you’ll want to exercise caution as you move around the home. Whether the home has experienced shifts and unsettling, damage to walls, floors or ceilings, or items have fallen over, all of this can pose risks. Look for standing water and for electrical hazards.
- You may need to turn off your utilities. Know where your shut-offs are for water, electricity, propane and natural gas. Know how to turn them off, and if you need a special device to do so, be sure you have one and know how to access it.
- If there are freezing temperatures, you’ll be concerned about pipes freezing. It is important to take steps that are SAFE to address this, and resist setting a fire in your home in an attempt to melt the frozen pipes. Instead, open the faucets slightly, use hair dryers, heat tape, salt in drains, or wrap pipe in towels.
- Finally, if there is a biohazard, chemical, or radiological event, you may be forced to take some extreme measures on your home. The Red Cross provides the following guidance for steps to take:
– Close and lock all windows and exterior doors (including garage doors.
– If you are told there is a danger of an explosion, close all curtains and blinds.
– Close and turn off the air intake or air movement devices in your home: fans, heating, air-conditioning, fireplace damper.
– You may need to tape closed windows and entries with duct tape and tarps / plastic sheeting.
– Have your emergency supplies accessible.
– Move to an interior room or safe room in your home.
– If you have a land-line, ideally have a hard-lined phone accessible. These may work when the electricity does not.
– Activate your Communication plan, but conserve phone batteries if you’re without power.
– Stay tuned with your battery or hand-crank radio to the news to listen for additional instructions.
– For extended periods of time, you may need to manage your water and food supplies. Avoid food that was stored in refrigeration which may have become spoiled.
Sheltering-in-place involves some prep we’re already focusing on (emergency kit, communication plan, etc.) but has a few items we can do now:
– Do you know how to turn off your utilities, and can you access those areas right now? If not, clear pathways that can make them accessible, especially if power is out.
– Identify your best “interior space” that you’d use if you needed it. This may be a bathroom or a closet, or any space that would have no windows.
– Consider items you might want to add to your emergency kit for sheltering-in-place, such as duct tape and tarps or plastic sheets.
– If you said last year, “This year, we’re getting a generator” and haven’t done that yet, revisit why it was important and whether it is truly a priority, and if it is, make it happen.
Join in the conversation over at the Clever Girl Organizing Challenge Facebook Group to learn from and to teach others as we all take on the Let’s Get Prepared! Challenge!
Reminder: Our goal here is to take steps towards improvement. The content in these posts is designed to inspire thinking, not fear.