If we learn anything from the Haiti disaster, it’s that they can happen anywhere, anytime. According to NPR, most Haitians didn’t realize they lived in an earthquake zone. Given the poverty of the country, there probably isn’t anything the people could have done to prevent the destruction even if they had known. We can’t always prevent destruction in our own country, but we can do something to prepare for emergencies and disasters.

Update Your Emergency Kit
When I moved, I discovered that I hadn’t updated my emergency kit in eighteen months. Most of the food inside it had expired and the water was starting to evaporate. Since the food was canned, it’s unlikely it would have poisoned us, but we replaced it anyway.

Get Your Documents in Order
Last year, I wrote two week’s worth of posts listing every document and item you need for an emergency. Since we’re starting a new year, this is a perfect time to review your preparations or pull things together.

Write an Advance Directive
Making your wishes known isn’t enough. You need to write an Advance Directive. This isn’t just for emergencies. Before my husband scheduled his surgery, he was asked if he had an Advance Directive. We’ve been instructed to bring it to the hospital with us. If you don’t have one, download the form and complete it now before something comes up.

Have a Plan in Place
I’ve mentioned before that my husband and I carry emergency phone numbers in our wallets, behind our driver’s licenses. In addition to attempting to call each other in an emergency, we will also call my parents, who live 400 miles away, to let them know we’re okay. They can then communicate to the rest of the family. My husband’s card includes his brother’s info so emergency workers can call him if they can’t reach me.

Obviously, a disaster doesn’t have to as severe or unexpected as the Haitian earthquake, but you should always be prepared. Even if you don’t live in a “disaster zone,” fires or personal emergencies can happen anytime.

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