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Mistakes to Avoid when Preparing for a Disaster

How prepared are you for a disaster? While it may be challenging to prepare for the unknown, some experts recommend approaching preparations in terms of what not to do, rather than trying to remember everything you should do. The following are common mistakes to avoid.


Some like to predict when a disaster will occur. Some people spend their whole lives studying earthquakes, tornadoes, and other devastating situations. The fact is disasters are highly unpredictable. Spend your time and effort on preparing rather than predicting.


The worst thing you can do in a dangerous situation is panic. Anxiety, panic, and fear can cause you to freeze up and only focus on the emotion’s powerful effect, stopping you from taking the bold steps required to keep everyone safe. Push aside panic for the moment so you can take the right actions. There will be enough time to digest the experience later on.


This is probably the most common mistake we make. We think tragedies could never happen to us, but there is no telling what tomorrow may bring. Every time you go shopping, pick up a few extra cans of food, supplies for your first-aid kit, and other emergency supplies. Sit down with your family and discuss what to do in case of an emergency.

Failure to Plan

It would be best if you proactively prepare for a natural disaster — Practice earthquake, hurricane, or fire drills with your family. Review your plan regularly as a family and make updates if necessary. Procrastination is a surefire way of putting your family at risk when a natural disaster strikes. Be proactive and ensure your home and family are as prepared as possible.

Lack of Provisions

Not getting enough of the proper provisions will put you and your loved ones in danger when a disaster occurs. Learn how much water and non-perishable food you need for at least 72 hours. You should also have an emergency first aid kit ready to go along with other essential emergency items.

Not Securing Important Documents

If you are not aware of where your important documents are, it may cause property loss and identity theft. Keep all your identification papers, insurance papers, medical, and financial records in a safe, accessible place in your home. Have emergency numbers nearby, phone numbers of family and friends who live nearby, primary care physicians, and poison control. It is best to work together in religious, political, familial, and with other groups or persons who share your values.

Alternative Power Sources

If things get rough, you will probably be without electrical power for an indefinite amount of time. Having a solar or hand-crank power generator can be a lifesaver. Make sure to have the necessary batteries for flashlights. Also, have a fire starter kit, waterproof matches, and gasoline. Be sure to have a full tank of gas as often as possible if you need to evacuate.

Personal Bathroom Protection Plan

Bathrooms are usually the riskiest part of your home. Broken bones or head injuries result from severe falls, burns from scalding hot water, and missteps on slippery floors. Use rubber mats to prevent slipping. A drying mat should be secured and placed next to the shower or tube. A removable, hand-held shower head makes self-cleaning easier. The thermostat should not go higher than 120 degrees to prevent burning. Handlebars within the shower or bathtub make it easier to get in and out.

Addressing Potential Hazards

In an emergency or disaster, people can become disoriented and fall, especially seniors. Remove and limit hazards in your home that might be a danger. It includes securing throw rugs with a rubberized backing, cleaning clutter, especially near corners and stairs, securing furniture in case of an earthquake, and making sure extension cords and electronic cables are secured.

Preventing Accidents

Stairwells are often tricky for seniors to navigate as they can lose their balance, miss a step, and potentially fall. Be sure to improve lighting and have sturdy handrails lining the stairs. You can also place non-slip mats on every step. Make sure steps are level and that floorboards are stable.

Potential fire hazards

Regularly check appliances to ensure they are maintained. Check for damaged electrical cords and limit the number of appliances plugged into one outlet or extension device. Keep a smoke detector installed in each main room of the home. Do not allow candles to be left burning unattended. Make sure heating devices are far away from bedding, curtains, and furniture. Turn off heating devices when no one is in the same room, including toaster ovens, irons, and portable heaters. Avoid cooking with loose clothing or long sleeves. Install a carbon monoxide detector in the home.

Personal Safety

Take into account stranger dangers. These include abusive caretakers, home intruders, and burglars. Make a peephole in the front door or install a security system. Tell seniors and children not to open the door to strangers. Accept mail only by a mailbox or mail slot in the front door. Remind everyone not to complete transactions over the phone or give out personal information. Many scams target the elderly. Senior safety wearable devices are one way to guarantee a form of protection against abuse or break-in.

Disregard official warnings and instructions

It is impossible to prepare for every virtually impossible event. Your primary focus must be the ability to adapt to new circumstances as they unfold constantly. Listen to radio transmissions and updates regarding an emergency or disaster. You cannot be aware of all the challenges you may be facing, and making assumptions could lead you down the wrong path. Also, be aware that you may not get any help from a government agency, military, or another group right away.

A mistake is preparing only for the dangers you deem likely. The best way to overcome this is to have a strategy for dealing with the unexpected.

Emergency preparation is not a waste of time and money. It gives you peace of mind and potentially helps you and others stay safe during an emergency.

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