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How To Survive Disasters without Preparation


Updated January 23, 2014


What to Do if You Aren't Ready

Preparation is great if you have time, but life and Mother Nature wait for no one. If you have found yourself in the midst of a disaster without a disaster kit or a plan, the first thing you have to do is to stop and take a deep breath. Calmness and clear thinking are the keys to surviving.


Difficulty: N/A

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Here's How:

  1. Get to safety. If you're told to evacuate immediately, don't wait. Get everybody in the car, grab your keys, and go.

    If you have a few minutes to pack for an evacuation, take identification, cash, prescription medications, blankets or sleeping bags and any bottled water you have on hand. Put on underwear, socks, long pants, two shirts, sturdy shoes and take a coat, even in the summer.

    If authorities say it's OK to stay in your home, then pack clothes, identification, cash, water, food that doesn't require refrigeration, prescription medications, and sleeping bags to be ready to leave if you must.


  2. Get informed. Listen to radio or television for instructions. If you don't have power at home, use a battery-powered radio or your car radio. Be careful not to run the battery low in your car. Don't run your car in the garage to charge the battery; you will cause carbon monoxide poisoning.


  3. Get water. Emergency water supplies will keep you going longer than anything else. Bottled water is best, but there are ways to treat water and make it safe to drink if necessary. Listen to the radio to find out if tap water is safe. To conserve water, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer and disposable utensils, cups and plates if you have them.


  4. Get food. Collect all the food you have that does not require water or heat to prepare. Eat the most-perishable food first. In a power failure, refrain from opening the refrigerator door as much as possible. If you have ice available, move food from the refrigerator to an ice chest within 4 hours of losing power. Frozen foods can last as long as 48 hours in a full freezer without power.


  5. Organize medical supplies. If you have a first aid kit, take a look inside and make sure you know what's in it. If you have to stock it with additional items, now is the time. Write down any personal medical information for anyone in the home: name, medical problems, prescription medications, and allergies.



  1. Avoid burning candles for light and never leave a candle burning unattended. Emergency services may not be available to respond to fires. Follow proper candle safety.


  2. If you're staying home, touch base with your neighbors to make sure everyone is fine and to pool resources.


  3. When packing supplies, don't forget to take care of infants and elderly. Remember bottles, diapers, formula, and baby food for babies. Or walkers, dentures, and special medical supplies for the elderly.
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