September is National Emergency Preparedness month. I wrote an emergency hack piece a few years ago. Today, I’m updating that for 2020. Because damn – being prepared for anything wasn’t enough for this year!
And here are my updated adulting hacks for 2020. Most were based on all the personal fires I’ve had to put out this year during a pandemic and tropical storm.
Practice a safety drill with kids
Kids have emergency drills at school, but it is often overlooked at home. Review your family’s plan for fire alarms or emergency evacuations. Make sure everyone knows where to meet outside or a nearby home. Make sure the kids know the local emergency contact’s information. The updated 2020 conversation involves educating family on social distancing and masks. Also communicate with older children what your family’s plan is, if their college campus and dorms are shut down and they need to quarantine or get home quickly.
Check emergency Equipment
Our fire alarms automatically tell us when we need to change the battery. Our flashlights, unfortunately, do not. So every September, check the batteries for your emergency equipment. Make sure they’re still strong.
Another update for 2020, is to REMOVE batteries from emergency equipment. Yes, remove them. Place the batteries in sandwich bags and store with the lantern or flashlight. I use a rubber band to attached the two. This will prevent damage if the batteries wearing out, or corroding and damaging the equipment.
Auto Maintenance & Gasoline
Make sure your car maintenance it done – an oil change, air filter or a 50,000 mile checkup. Make sure your brakes and tires are in good shape before you need to evacuate for a hurricane or wildfire. The twist in 2020 is old gasoline. If you’re like me, you haven’t put many miles on your car since the pandemic started in March. This can be a problem for your car’s battery and for the age of gasoline in your tank. If you aren’t driving much, due the quarantine, make a point of taking small trip to use up gasoline and keep the battery charged. The general rule of thumb is to not use gas over six months old. You can use gasoline stabilizer in your tank as a precaution, but it is better to use up the gas.
The same applies to your generator, if you have one. I learned this lesson the hard way years ago. If you have to use your generator, let it run until all the gasoline is gone, after the last use. In addition to keeping fresh gasoline for your generator, make sure you do an oil change after 24 hours of use. If you have gas that is too old to put in your generator, dispose of it at your local hazardous waste site.
Self Care & Medical Care
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Do not let quarantine prevent you from getting routine medical testing and procedures. Doctor’s offices are open and safe. Most are seeing patients with Covid symptoms in the afternoons, to prevent any possible exposure to other patients.
Also check your inventory of regular medications and order as early as possible. The demand for online pharmacies is higher now and delivery times are longer.
Regular emergency readiness manuals say to have enough nonperishable food on hand for three days. For 2020, add another ten days of meals for a last-minute quarantine. Everyday contract tracers make calls, alerting people to positive test or potential exposure to Covid-19. If you get the call, you’ll be asked to quarantine or isolate yourself immediately. And that quarantine clock starts at the phone call, not after a quick trip to the grocery store.
Where I live, it was impossible to get delivery windows for any grocery delivery. It took a month before windows became readily available. Be prepared in the event an outbreak in your area causes high demand on deliveries. Have food with long shelf lives stashed away, like pasta, beans, canned soups, frozen pizzas, etc. Also have a friend or family member on speed dial to help you out if need be.
Carry cash & a credit/debit card
I now make sure I have enough cash for purchases and a credit card ready. Some businesses insist on a credit card for their employees’ safety. But twice since the pandemic started, power or internet access has gone out while I was shopping. Only cash could be used during those times. Also, with so many businesses and employees struggling, larger cash tips from those who can afford them, are very appreciated.
Stay safe out there!