Hazards to Prepare For: Week Two Baby Steps to Preparedness

Welcome to week two of our Baby Steps to Preparedness series. This week we’ll discuss some hazards to prepare for. How did you do last week? To recap, I gave you a short shopping list to start building your emergency kit. I also gave you a few action steps to take. Did you find out what hazards are common in your area? If not, I’ll give you more information to help you in this article.

Hazards to prepare for: Lightning thunderstorm flash over the night sky. Hurricane, typhoon, tornado, storm.
Lightning thunderstorm flash over the night sky. Hurricane, typhoon, tornado, storm. Free Stock photos by Vecteezy

Week 2 Shopping List: Prepare for Hazards

This week you’re going to shop at the hardware store for supplies. Naturally, you’ll want to look around for the best prices. You might even find some sales if you’re lucky.

Here are the things to purchase:

  • Crescent wrench
  • Heavy rope
  • Duct tape
  • 2 flashlights with batteries
  • Bungee cords
  • Waterproof matches

Optional Items:

  • A leash and/or crate for your pet(s).

This week, your list doesn’t require multiple of each item per person, but if you have the budget and it makes you feel more secure, feel free to buy multiples of whatever you wish. This is also a good week to consider how you will store your preparedness kit. A cardboard box or a shelf in the basement is fine. If you find a heavy-duty tote on sale, grab a couple. They are always useful to have, and they are a good storage solution for your kit.

Economy vs. Quality

Let’s talk a bit about quality. When you’re buying tools, flashlights, etc., you don’t have to get the most expensive ones, but don’t get the cheapest either. Think about it. This is a kit to help you in an emergency situation. If you need to turn off a water main quickly and your crescent wrench snaps, it’s not very useful, even if you saved a lot of money by getting one at the dollar store. 

This is a case of finding balance. Look for quality without breaking the bank. If you’re lucky, maybe you can find an old crescent wrench in your grandpa’s garage. Those old ones are made to last! You might find this review of the best adjustable wrenches useful.

Not just tools

The same goes for flashlights. Can you find a two-pack of el cheapo flashlights at the dollar store? Probably. Will they work in an emergency situation? Um… Maybe? Do you really want to rely on maybe? I’m guessing not, so again, find something that is good quality.

And believe me; I know flashlights can get crazy expensive, depending on the tech. My husband has a thing for flashlights and has several that, in my opinion, are ridiculously expensive. But I also know that we will be well-lit in any emergency situation – as in lumens, not the other kind of lit… Anyway, as with tools, you want to find a balance between affordability and quality. (I’m not going to get into a discussion on batteries other than to say the same thing goes for them.)

Now, rope… For emergency situations, a polyester twisted rope is often recommended because it’s durable and works well in various weather conditions. You should be able to find a 100-foot roll for under $20. If you want to splurge, consider also getting some paracord. You can get 50 feet of paracord for well under $10, and it has a multitude of uses.

Preparedness Kit Action Steps

Now that you have your shopping done, here are some action steps for the week. Involve your family in this because it’s important for everyone to understand how to react during a disaster. It also helps to have more than one person brainstorm on the needs of your household.

  • Think about what you might need in the disaster situations that are most common in your area (see below). Make a list of what you already have that will meet those needs and what else you might need. 
  • Locate your gas meter and water shutoffs and attach the proper tool near each. Not sure how to do this? Allstate has a handy article on shutting off utilities in a disaster.
  • Obtain a collar tag or microchip for your pet for emergency identification.

The Hazards to Prepare For

In my first post on building your emergency kit, I asked you to do some research to find out what hazards you may need to prepare for. Today I am going to tell you how to figure that out.

Find out what plans are in place in your community for warnings and evacuations if necessary. Contact your local emergency management office and ask about hazards that can be an issue in your community and make note of them.

To find out the risks in your state, you can go to American Red Cross and find your state on the map. Click it, and you’ll see a box that lists your area’s most common natural disasters. You can see the one for my area in the image.

Midwest disasters

They also list possible disasters for which everyone should be prepared, such as power outages, flooding, and thunderstorms.

Here is a list of hazards for you to research. See what is most likely to occur where you live, and rate them according to risk level: none, low, moderate, or high.

Natural Hazards:

  • Floods
  • Hurricanes
  • Thunderstorms/Lightening
  • Tornadoes
  • Winter Storms/Extreme Cold
  • Extreme Heat
  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanoes
  • Landslides/Debris Flow
  • Tsunamis
  • Fires
  • Wildfires

Technological Hazards:

  • Hazardous Materials Incidents
  • Nuclear Power Plants
  • Terrorism:
  • Explosions
  • Biological Threats
  • Chemical Threats
  • Nuclear Blasts
  • Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD)

As you learn about each potential risk, find out what you can do to minimize your family’s risk for them. For example, here in Wisconsin, I’m going to say my risk level for a volcano is none. However, my risk level for a tornado is high, so I need to be prepared for that. 

Regardless of the hazards you may encounter, your first step is to have an emergency preparedness kit, so keep following this series to learn how to build one for your family.

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