Prepare For A Natural Disaster – Your Family And Your Homestead

Natural disasters happen all the time all over the world, fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. There is pandemonium and chaos, fear and heartbreak each time. Is it preventable? Most of the time, no. We are at the mercy of Mother Nature. But there are some things you can do to prepare for a natural disaster. Do you know how to prepare you, your family, home, pets, and livestock?

Right now, Marjory and her family are preparing for Hurricane Harvey, which is going to hit the Texas coast today.

Her homestead is expecting 20+ inches of rain and sustained winds of 40 mph. She says that is 2/3 of their annual rainfall.

Marjory knows how to prepare for a natural disaster. They’ve been to the grocery store, cleaned up the homestead, boarded up the windows, and scattered cover crop seeds in the pasture. In her words, “We’ve been broadcasting seed for the fall planting of pasture cover crops. Yes, the time to plant is before the rains or your likelihood of germination goes way down—you never know if/when it will rain again.”

Look for updates on Marjory right here on this blog post!

UPDATE August 25, 2017, 8:03pm CST: Hurricane Harvey has intensified. It is now a Category 4 storm as it makes landfall. Marjory has “battened down the hatches.” They are as prepared as they can be.

UPDATE August 28, 2017, 8:00am MST: Marjory and her family are fine. She said she was amazed to see an empty bucket fill up in a matter of a day.

Prepare your family for a natural disaster

In 2004, my family and I were living in Florida. We went through 4 hurricanes back-to-back. Two boys, two cats, and I huddled in the inner bathroom of our house. I lost three refrigerators full of food, and we lost power for weeks each time. It was the tornadoes spawned by the storm that finally got us. A 100 ft. pine tree with a 5-ft. diameter missed my car by inches. Our neighbors were not so lucky.

Make a plan

It’s better to prepare for an emergency or a disaster long before it happens. Choose reliable information sources, and know the warning systems in your area. Talk with your family about your plan, even young children will understand and not be so frightened. Be sure to include your pets and even neighbors in your plans.

  • Choose a safe place to meet.
  • Decide how you will contact each other (if cell service or electricity are out)
  • How will you find each other?
  • What will you do in different situations (fire, tornado, hurricane, earthquake, zombie apocalypse)?

Okay that last one was a bit of a joke, but all joking aside … what is your family’s disaster plan?

Create a disaster kit or bug out bag

Your emergency kit should be stocked and restocked regularly. Be sure to consider all of your needs and don’t forget your pets! You and your family may need to survive on your own for several days. You’ll need to be prepared with food, water, and other supplies for at least 72 hours.

Basic Disaster Supply Kit, or Bug Out Bag

Store everything in airtight plastic bags or put your entire disaster supply kit in one or two easy-to-carry plastic bins or duffel bags. Check the items regularly to make sure they work and have not expired.

  • Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. This is for drinking and sanitation.
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio or NOAA Weather radio with tone alert. (Don’t forget extra batteries in your kit.)
  • Flashlight – battery-powered, solar-powered, or hand-crank (Personally, I prefer the hand-crank. I know it will work)
  • First Aid Kit – Check it regularly to make sure it is stocked.
  • Extra batteries – make sure you replace these regularly or use rechargables that get charged regularly.
  • Whistle to signal for help – A whistle is much easier to use than your voice and carries over a longer distance. Make sure that each family member has one.
  • Dust mask – in case there is debris in the air
  • Plastic sheeting – makes a great impromptu shelter
  • Duct tape- I never go anywhere without duct tape!
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Manual can opener for your food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with solar charger or a battery backup

Personal Emergency Supplies

  • Prescription medications
  • Non-prescription medications (pain-relievers, anti-diarrhea, antacids, and laxatives)
  • Glasses and contact lens solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
  • Pet supplies – Crate or carrier, pet food, and extra water for your pet
  • Cash
  • Way to cook food
  • Family documents (copies of insurance policies, identifications and bank account records, saved in a waterproof, portable container)
  • Sleeping bag and warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in waterproof container
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant
  • Mess kit, cup
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles, cards, or other activities for children

After you create your disaster kit, remember to check it regularly.

Keep your canned food in a cool, dry place and replace expired items as needed. Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic containers. Rethink your needs each year.

Prepare your homestead for a natural disaster

Now that your family, pets, and you are safe during a natural disaster. Do you know how to prepare your homestead so it stays running?

  • Remove any debris that could become a dangerous flying object. This includes tomato cages!
  • Generator – if you have solar or wind power, it’s still a good idea to have a backup generator in case your alternative energy sources are damaged or destroyed by the natural disaster.
  • Reliable water source
  • Secure your livestock and small animals – have extra food, water, and bedding ready for at least a week. Have your halters and leads ready.
  • Stock up on vet supplies, including bandages, antibiotics, supplements
  • Make sure housing, food, and supplies for small animals (chickens, ducks, rabbits) are ready to withstand high winds or rising water. Create a make-shift pen in your garage, if necessary.
  • Put heavy farm equipment under cover and tie it down.
  • Tools & gloves – There will be a lot of mending after a natural disaster.
  • Keep a written inventory of all livestock, including breeding and expense records, with your other important family documents.
  • Make sure all animal branding, tagging, and other identification information are up-to-date.

Are you prepared? Tell us in the comments below.


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  • shirley brooke says:

    all we can do is try to stay connected in case we need to send help smb25212@gmail.com or 3523992294 or 4015239139 in Florida also.

  • Sue says:

    Thank you Heather for reporting about this Hurricane and how to prepare for a dangerous storm. 20 inches of rain is a big deal since everything in its path will be severely flooded since drainage will
    Take time with that much water in such a short period of time.
    Inflatable lifeboats and
    life jackets might be an option perhaps.

    I’ve never experienced a hurricane with
    flooding of that magnitude. I hope all goes well for Marjory in dealing with this

    1. Heather Dakota says:

      Thanks so much, Sue! Yes, life jackets, canoes, or inflatables are a great idea to have in a flooding situation. With the clay soil that is in Texas, it will take time for the water to soak into the ground.

    2. Claire says:

      Hi Heather and Sue,

      Fishing waders, chest waders, or hip waders could also be very practical and useful in a situation with such torrential rainfall.

  • Beth Hayes says:

    Just went through a huge hail storm with three over head tornadoes that thankfully come down low but the tail didn’t touch down. 90 mph winds and hail the size of baseballs that completely covered the yard and large drifts of hail ankle deep and still there 2 hours after the storm. No power for 24 hours. Hit really fast all hubby and I had time to do was grab some blankets and huddle down in the hall. We knew there was a problem when the wind started whipping under the two bedroom doors we was near and then hail started coming out from under the bedroom door and into the hall with us. We heard the tornado and the quiet from the eye and then the tornado again, so it was pretty close above us. When we opened the bedroom doors it had busted all 4 windows on the east side of our house, which inc. the glass storm windows the screens and then the inside windows. Our bed was in front of two of those windows so it was a big mess. The floor in one bedroom was about half covered with hail and both rooms had a lot of water in them, knocked down curtains, etc. Our horse came through it without a scratch but a neighbor horse had serious cuts on three of it legs where a piece of tin apparently blew up under him. We have a small backyard nurser and it really devastated it. Shredded all the hundreds of pots the plants were in. Also was harvesting a bunch of elderberries I had planted that were at least 6 ft tall, they are now 2 ft tall sticks sticking out of the ground. Gardens were flattened. Across the road a 160 acre pasture, the grass was down to the ground and they are having to feed and water the cows in those pastures.

    We set up our generator, and plugged in the freezer, Fridge, TV, internet, a lamp. Was very thankful for our rechargeable flashlight, and the bunch of candles I always keep. And Thankful for our son and daughter and son in law and fire dpt. Our son in law is the city emergency management director and even though this was county him and our daughter was out here as soon as they could get someone to clear trees off the road, So is a county deputy who was trying to stop a small riot in the jail because of the storm, and then him and his partner clear a construction zone on a major highway of dangerous cones and metal signs, but he still got out here in time to help staple tarps over the windows. We always keep a few tarps around too. The fire dpt was out here quickly going from door to door making sure people were ok, and then several neighbors stopped by to check on us. We didn’t even know any of them. A lot of neighbors had more damage than we did so we was thankful. It always pays to be prepared, Make sure you have tarps, candles, a generator if you can, duct tape and staple gun, matches, and no cook or easy to cook food. We have a electric stove that is 220 so didn’t hook that up but could hook up the microwave to the generator. And make sure you have extra blankets stored in more than a couple of rooms. A lot of our in the bedrooms was full of glass and wet but we had others in a third bedroom along with sheets, so we had blankets, so we could sleep on the couch for a couple of days.

    Sorry so long but just a few helpful hints to always be prepared, a disaster can happen suddenly.

    1. Heather Dakota says:

      Thank you for your story, Beth! So glad you and your husband are safe. Good suggestions for your emergency disaster kit!

    2. Claire says:

      Hi Beth,

      It sounded like a horror show. I am so glad that you and your loved ones made it through alive! Once you have been through this type of storm, you will never forget the power that Nature has.

  • Jackie S. says:

    Marjory and Heather:

    If Marjory can get out to her tomatoes before the storm hits she can pull up all the plants by the roots and tie string around the roots and hang them in a mud room or some other place in the house where they won’t be making a mess they will ripen there. I have done that before.

    I will be praying for you Marjory and asking Hashem (God the father) and Yeshua Jesus (Jesus the Messiah) to keep you safe from the storm.

    1. Heather Dakota says:

      Jackie, thank you for that tidbit about the tomatoes!

  • Phil says:

    Don’t sound like you got to worry about watering the garden stay safe. Phil

  • Sandy Smith says:

    I also went through the 4-back to back hurricanes in and around Okeechobee, Fla. We got hit with the first (Charlie) and lost electricity, got it back and got hit with another hurricane. Lost electricity. Got it back and then hit with another. Lost electricy, got it back.. and it went on and on. I lost my landscape including a hundreds year old oak tree which finally took it’s toll during the last hurricane (Jean). This awesome oak caused so much damage that it took out 2 citrus trees, busted the sea wall and stopped the canal up, ripped up plumming and totally tore up the utility shed and the tree cost $6,ooo.00 to remove. Thank goodness the insurance paid for that. We lost lots of our roof. I was fortunate because I worked with the County Jail at the time and the Dept. had their inmates handing out water and ice. Luckily, I got extra that I could give to my neighbors. I did learn to fill a cooler with ice, dip a towel in the ice water, wring it out and place it on my chest and it would cool me for awhile during the night. This made for some nights that were not blazing hot in South Florida. PREPARE

  • Sandy Smith says:

    One more thing. You should consider filling up some gallon jugs with water and making sure they are frozen before a disaster. Leave them there in your freezer and maybe one in top of the small frig freezer. This will keep things longer by a couple of days. Do not open the appliances more than you absoutely have to.Fill your bath tub with water, (I depended on this for a week to keep clean) and you will have to use the same water to bathe a few times that is in the tub. Get buckets of water to flush the toilet. I did not flush after each incident…ha ha..water was precious.
    Make sure you have a working and a sharp can opener. Most ppl forget about this handy item.It is so necessary if you have but few means and most are in cans.
    This is the most important bit of info that I have come across in a very long time. I never could get lit a fire without using a whole box of matches because just a breeze would blow them out. I will not..and I mean NOT..use gas to start a fire. Get a small dry stick from your yard, only about 8-12 inches long. Now, wrap about 1/2 ball of cotton onto the end of the stick. Now..get vasoline and swab some around the cotton ball wrapped around the stick. Take 1 small match and light it. Walla….. you have a small torch that will last awhile.

    1. Heather Dakota says:

      Thanks so much, Sandy! You have some great items to add to the preparedness list!

  • Claire says:

    My prayers go out to Marjory and all her loved ones. I have been through a few terrible Midwestern storms that left our small town devastated for quite some time. High winds took roofs off, pulled electrical wires down, ripped electrical boxes off of houses, uprooted grand old-growth trees, and even carried our traffic signal lights to an unknown destination. I learned over time that it is wise to have an assortment of preserved foods available: canned mason jar goods, store bought items in metal cans, frozen foods, vacuum sealed, and dehydrated items. You never know what kind of damages you will be facing. All of the food storage should also not be in one place! Spread it around because you might not be able to reach your dry goods pantry or basement chest freezer. It all depends on how much damage occurs and where. I also added a large can of UDAP bear spray to my preparedness supplies. We had looters from the big city come into our town to take advantage of the terrible situation we were in. UDAP has a powerful range up to 35 ft and all it takes is a one second blast. The best thing is that no one ends up dead.

    1. Heather Dakota says:

      Wow! What a story, Claire! So glad you were safe and thank you for adding some more preparedness items to the list!

    2. Sandy Smith says:

      Bear spray??? I have never hear of it. Where can I get it? even though I do not need it it for bears , but for people bearing bad intensions. In Florida the worst come out to raid and steal during disasters.

  • Lynette says:

    Love the typo — Prescription meditation…..not such a bad idea to help cope and keep calm in the emergency!

    1. Heather Dakota says:

      HA! Lynette, I totally agree. I guess you can see what was on my mind. 😉

  • Lori Kauffman says:

    Wow. This is probably the best thing I’ve read in a long time. Love the additional comments from people that have been through an emergency. I’ll be making a list of things we need to do around here. It’s just me and my son now, along with the animals. One thing that I know we can count on is our neighbors. We have some wonderful ones, and it makes me feel better knowing if something happens, we are all in this together.
    Good luck to Marjory and all that need to “weather” this storm. Will be waiting for updates.

    1. Heather Dakota says:

      Glad you like it, Lori! I agree. I’m always thrilled with the input from the community. There are a lot of smart cookies here. So glad you have neighbors who look out for each other. That’s worth more than gold.

  • Maurine Pendleton says:

    This is great information. I now see the importance of frequently checking the supplies. One question : Where do you suggest keeping the supplies? Another question: You made suggestions about handling heavy equipment, but what about cars, trucks, etc.? Thank you for providing this valuable information, and covering things I would never have thought of!

    1. Heather Dakota says:

      Thank you Maurine! In Florida, we kept our supplies in a closet in the house. Anyplace that is cool and dry will work. We did the two bin method. We also had the snap-tight lids, because roaches were a huge problem in FL. Now that we’re in New Mexico, we have one bin and a bug-out-bag each. Cars and trucks are always a dilemma. We didn’t have a garage in FL, so my car was sitting out in the 130 mph winds. I pulled it up as close to the house as possible, which is why the tree missed it. However, my neighbors had three trees fall on their house. It didn’t matter that their car was in the garage. Many natural disasters are difficult to predict (i.e. tornadoes). Do the best you can and hope for the best outcome.

  • Beth Hayes says:

    About 8 years ago we had a huge ice storm here. Our house was surrounded by large trees and it sounded like a war zone with the trees coming down. Lucky none hit the house. The ice was so thick the neighbor couldn’t did us out with his large backhoe. 3 large black walnut trees came down across the drive, but the was able to cut them in the middle and use the backhoe to push them aside enough to get up the drive. Our drive was a pretty good hill up to the highway. We had record low temp of minus 33 here in N.E Oklahoma. Then snow knee deep on top of 6 inches of ice. We couldn’t get our truck out of the drive for two weeks. Didn’t have electric for 2 weeks and 1 day, fortunately we had propane heat and cooking. I highly recommend having a couple of head lamps. I cooked dinners with a small flashlight held in my teeth. lol

    Our son came out in his little car and took us to town after a week for a few groceries, since we was going but mostly for goat and dog food. Then we had to slide it down the drive while we slid down on our backsides to the bottom. and carry it in the house. It was quite a mess but because we was prepared we made it through just fine. Had lots of candles and lamps and emergency supplies, plus lots of stocked up food. The freezer was in a mostly unheaded room so by only opening it when we had to and the super cold temps it made it just fine. Always had a good supply of canned or dried food, flour, sugar, salt etc. Some canned meat like chicken, tuna, Salmon, beef etc. Also rice and dried noodles, we had chickens who were still laying a bit so we had a few eggs each day.

    you have to plan ahead, things can happen suddenly or in our small town the one grocery store empties fast of all the staples. Also very important to make sure you have plenty of batteries for your flashlights etc. You couldn’t find a D battery in 3 counties around us those two weeks. They sold out as fast as the stores could get them in.

    1. Sandy Smith says:

      You seem versed in preparation. You almost seemed comfortable. My preparation has only been in Hurricances. In South Florida the total hot heat was a big issue with being somewhat comfy. I learned fast how to do that with ice and towels. Ice will be given out in your local area even tho you could starve unless u have provisions. Get a shower curtain and lay on your bed so as not to soak up the ice soaked towels. Put on a sheet over the shower curtain. You do not want the water dripping into your matress. Hurricanes are so different than snow storms…me thinks because I am sooo Southern and know knothing what an ice storm is about. Always take pictures off the wall and lay down on counters. If your dogs are not safe..take to your vet’s or animal shelters or bring inside with you. Cats too! I even brought my chickens inside during hurricane Katrina. The smell was not so pleasing, but we got a big laught about it. Love u all

  • Sandy Smith says:

    How is Margie and Family doing??? Anybody heard??

  • Mary says:

    Marjory, stay safe. Praying that all goes well with no problems with flooding. Saw pictures on TV and it looks bad there. We are on East Coast and also get hurricanes. We are already prepared except for some things that would be done if we get a hurricane out our way. Keep us informed and may God be with you.

  • How is Marjory and her family?

    1. Heather Dakota says:

      Hi Penny, Thanks so much for asking! Marjory and her family are fine. She emailed yesterday, so even the Internet was back up. Marjory said it was amazing to watch an empty bucket get filled up by the rains.

  • In New England the weather is unpredictable and because it is not predictable the weather can catch you unprepared. 3 years ago we had a winter storm in October when the leaves were on the trees. The snow on the branches broke them off like gun shots!! bringing down lots and lots of electric wires. I felt that this one was going to be a bad one so I went and bought a 2 burner propane camp stove and a stove top coffee pot. If I can have my coffee I can face anything. Little did I know we would be out of electricity for 7 days!! Lost most of what was in my 2 freezers(minus what I cooked on the camp stove) and wouldn’t you know I had prepared for the coming holidays so you couldn’t get anything in the the freezers with a shoe horn!! I didn’t have a pressure caner at the time so I couldn’t save my stash. but it has taught me to be better prepared for the future. I now have water stored and dehydrated and canned food. I will be able to survive for 72 hrs easily. meds are a problem since insurance companies won’t allow you to stockpile prescription meds. Anyone have any ideas!!

  • Eberhard says:

    As far away from Germany, as far as I can tell, the US is not prepared at all for these kinds of emergencies. After “Katrina” witch hit Louisiana @ the End of August 2005, the USA somehow did not learn its lesson from this storm. Somehow FEMA is not able to figure out what to do. It does the same-NADA-.
    Power outages are due among to negligent updating the over line power lines. Put them underground. Furthermore: Build houses of brick instead of instable wood.
    Thus far, the US companies have failed to invest in the future. Now the sad results can be seen.
    All the above Advice is great, provided your local government and community take part of it. When I was in NY between 2006 and 2008 I had several “outages” due to heavy rain etc. It took more than one call and several hours of –no service available- to solve the situation. In 99% it was due to the over aged and old lines.
    No pun intended. The US is supreme in Military etc, yet is light years behind the current status, in view of the population.

  • Can you tell us more about this? I’d care to find
    out some additional information.

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