Disaster Planning: 3 Easy First Steps

A little emergency planning goes a long way. Here are 3 SIMPLE THINGS you can knock out in an afternoon

Emergency cash
Emergency tip no. 3: Cash is still king!

Three disaster preparedness things to do today!

1. Make a disaster plan!

2. Worry about water.

3. Take some cash out of the bank.

Okay, let's jump into each of those items in a bit more depth.

1. Make a disaster plan.

Talk to your family and come up with a comprehensive emergency plan. Imagine scenarios such as the cell network going down. (A very likely scenario in many disaster situations.) Who picks up the kids? Where will you meet if you can't reach your own home? Pick a second location nearby if your family can't meet at home. Then figure out where your away shelter will be — and how you'll reach that location. Imagine that some bridges or freeways might be closed or deadlocked with traffic. And even discuss how you might get to that away shelter by foot, as a family. Decide all this stuff now, over the kitchen table, so you won't be left wondering at some future date — at the point when you wish you had discussed the important stuff.

While we're at it, make sure that your school-age children know at least one parent's cell-phone number by heart, their own address, and the place to meet if they would get separated from the rest of the family while evacuating from a building. In the case of a city, that might be a nearby school yard, or a cross street. Doing the occasional drill isn't a bad idea, either.

That drill could even include actually evacuating to that away shelter, by car or foot, at some point, and identifying all the stuff that could go wrong even on the best of days...

"If your cell isn't working, which one of you will pick up the kids?"

2. Worry about water.

Chances are you've got some canned food, rice, oatmeal and the like already in your cupboards. (Right? Er, right?) But we simply expect water to flow every time we turn on the faucet. That might not be the case following a calamity. Which means you might find your house bone dry all of a sudden. What would you do then? So get your water supply in order, today. Run out and buy a temporary cache of supermarket water — but then turn to our Water guide and order a bevvy of long-lasting containers like the WaterBrick for small houses and apartments, and at least one 55-gallon water barrel for full-sized houses (ie, if you've got enough space, like a garage or shed). Then invest in camping-style filters like the phenomenal LifeStraw products. This will allow you to turn unsanitary water from rivers (or heck, muddy puddles) into potable water.

Let us underscore this: You simply can't have enough water, or worry about water enough. Without it... well, you've seen or read Dune, right?

"Imagine a moment you turn on the water faucet, and nothing happens. Where will you get water then?"

3. Take money out of the bank.

Withdraw $2,500 (or more) in small bills. Split it up and keep it in several accessible but hidden places. (A go bag or among several go bags is a good start.) We also keep another sum of money at our away shelter. You can keep adding to it as time goes on... $500 here or there, when possible.

Because remember, if the electrical grid goes down, credit cards won't work. You'll need that cash. While you're at it, consider filling up the family vehicle with gas more often, never allowing it to fall below a half-tank. Gas won't pump without electricity either.

"Take out at least $2,500 and put it in your go-bag. You won't miss it, but you'll be relieved to have it if the electrical grid goes down, even for only a day or two."

Now you've just accomplished some very important things in one afternoon. Go out and take a run... or catch up on the Walking Dead. (Now there are some characters who could have used disaster planning.)

Sane ways to deal with scary stuff