It seems like major disasters are becoming more frequent and more severe in recent years. When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, it was considered a storm-of-the-century freak of nature. But Superstorm Sandy wrought even heavier damage across the Atlantic coast, an area that most considered hurricane proof. Some people blame climate change, others blame simple bad luck – but either way, it pays to be prepared.
What do you need (and not need) to be ready for a disaster? Here are three of the most important priorities.
1. Generator. Most people consider it over-preparation to own a generator, but in an emergency it pays off. Luckily you don’t have to own one – you can rent one. While buying a generator is expensive and requires storage space and maintenance, generator rental is surprisingly cost effective and gives you the power you need when you need it. Of course, if you wait until the middle of a disaster to get one, it may be too late – but when a major storm is headed toward your area, it’s a good time to rent a backup generator.
2. Water, food and medicine are three of the most important things you’ll need, probably in that order. But many people make mistakes in shopping for their emergency preparation kit. Jugs of water are good, but so is a basic filter. The filter can take out sediment and then boiling will purify the water, giving you a limitless supply. A week’s worth of non-perishable food and a professional first aid kit will round out your stockpile.
3. Smart supplies. Beyond the necessities above, people can go crazy buying gizmos for every potential scenario. But the truth is the simpler and more pared-down your disaster supplies are, the easier they’ll be to use in a real emergency. Avoid impractical purchases and think about what will be easiest to store, access and use under stressful circumstances. If you do buy a large item, deploy it thoughtfully – for example, there’s no point inflating a four-man raft in your living room the night before a hurricane. If flooding does happen, it will be hard to get it out the door inflated.
Whether you check into generator rental or buy your first ever water filter, it never hurts to be prepared. By taking a thoughtful, practical approach to preparation you can maximize your readiness without looking paranoid – and you can keep it all under budget.
Jake Alexander is an avid blogger who likes to discuss disaster prepping. Follow him @JakeAlexander17.