Disaster Preparedness for Young Urban Families
Kathy Zucker didn't plan as well as she would have liked for the recent blizzard. She put together a plan based on federal recommendations and took it a few steps further.
I'm a planner. But preparing for 20 inches of snow with two toddlers is quite another story.
The Great Blizzard of 2010 was an excellent wakeup call. It's time to formulate a disaster plan for my family.
I've been looking at ready.gov, the government's disaster preparedness website, which recommends a three-pronged approach. First: put together a disaster kit. Second: make a plan, and third, stayi informed. I have a tendency to stockpile, which drives my husband and home organizer up the wall.
I do not keep my disaster kit in one location since we don't have enough storage space to accommodate it all, a common problem in Hoboken. Instead, I maintain a two-week supply of canned goods and dried fruit in our pantry, and have bottled water stacked in a large kitchen cupboard and in a corner of the den (my husband is oh-so-thrilled about that).
I have a large waterproof duffel bag in the corner of the master bedroom stocked with hand-crank flashlights, a first aid kit, and other disaster necessities. I keep cash in our safe, so I estimate it would take me about fifteen minutes to pull together all the elements of our disaster kit.
I also went a bit further than the disaster recommendations on ready.gov; I came up with plans for pet disaster preparedness (rescue alert stickers are a necessity) and electronic file storage. I may not have time to grab my laptop in an emergency, but I maintain several self-powered 1 terrabyte flash drives with all our critical household and work files. I plan to stick a flash drive along with our camera and laptop into one of the inexpensive lightweight waterproof duffles I keep handy (after all, Hoboken is located in a flood zone, and they are great for beach trips).
I try to use my disaster food supplies and replenish them. The stuff I buy is geared toward everyday living (i.e. I buy 8 oz water bottles rather than 1 gallon jugs). Even non-perishable food has expiration dates, so you can't put together a kit and leave it under the bed for five years. I recommend keeping the food elements more accessible and checking the kit once a year to update the contents (I include clothes several sizes larger than my kids' current sizes but it still needs to be replaced periodically).
There is a limit to the amount of disaster planning I can do in a small urban apartment, but blizzards, blackouts and hurricanes do occur every few years. Now that I have children, I owe it to them to make sure they are fed and cared for even under extenuating circumstances.
And, in case you didn't know, there's snow underway for this weekend.