Take a deep breath...

I can't believe it's 2011 already, but I'm relishing the peace it brings to our household.  The hustle of "the holidays" is finally gone.  (The kids are back in school, and my husband is back at work.)  I've been sorting through gifts, editing photos, relishing memories of time together, and packing away decorations.  My aunt mentioned that as she packs away her Christmas decorations, she gets out her snowmen.  She's right, of course, winter is just arriving.  And no matter where you live in the US, it's already hit pretty hard.  (Here in the Midwest, in addition to record snow fall and low temperatures, we also had freak tornadoes last week.)

Take a minute to evaluate if your family is ready for a big winter storm (or tornado, earthquake, power outage, etc.)  I'll be talking more this year about risk assessment and contingency planning, so don't worry if you're not "ready."  Mary Poppins says, "Well begun is half done," so get started.
  • Car contains water, snacks, extra warm items (gloves, hoodie, blanket)
  • Family/household members know emergency plan and communication plan if they can't get home.
  • House contains quick and easy shelf stable food for a few days is you can't get to the store.
  • Keep extra (emergency designated) flashlights, radios and batteries (stored OUT of the device).
  • If you commute, you dress warmly and carry a mini emergency kit.
  • You carry a few days of necessary prescription medications with you and always keep a two week supply at home.
If you've got a handle on all of these items, it may be time to attack some bigger projects.  If you have never been through an extended emergency, talk to people "older" than you.  They will inevitably be able to tell you at least one story about "the time when..."   Developing a well crafted plan for some larger emergency will provide comfort, convenience, and peace of mind.  Here are a few ideas to get started on for the next level of planning and preparedness.
  • Prepare an evacuation pack for each member of your household.
  • Plan an alternative cooking source for your home.
  • Maintain a way to heat your home (or a portion of it) without electricity.
  • Do some research and consider a generator for your home.
  • If you're in an earthquake region, do some earthquake home mitigation.
  • Talk to your local emergency services offices (police, fire, emergency management) about local disaster risks and response plans.

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