A woman working on a laptop with paperwork nearby

 

Written by Jenny Goldade

 

When disaster strikes, your funeral home can be one step ahead by being prepared for the unexpected. Whether it’s a natural disaster or another mass-casualty situation, there are many ways you can prepare for the worst.

 

We’ve put together this information guide so your funeral home and community stay safe. Feel free to share these tips with your families, or use them to help protect your funeral home from any damage due to natural disasters.

 

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Natural Disaster Preparation Tips

You should create an evacuation plan in case disaster strikes and prepare an emergency kit with useful supplies, such as:

  • A flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio and batteries
  • Important documents and cash
  • Clothing and blankets (also consider clothing for winter if applicable)
  • Non-perishable food and water bottles (at least three days’ worth of food)
  • Flares and whistles for signaling help
  • Medicines and a first aid kit
  • Moist towelettes and garbage bags for sanitation purposes
  • Other supplies

When creating an evacuation plan, these are few important things to keep in mind:

 

  1. Determine a safe location you can evacuate to, which may depend on the type of disaster.
  2. Know how to contact and locate your loved ones by compiling phone numbers and addresses.
  3. Make sure your emergency kit has the necessary supplies.
  4. Have a backup plan in case your original plan falls through.
  5. Know how you’re going to evacuate, including the mode of transportation you may need to use.

Also, sign up for emergency alerts on your phone so you’re aware of possible dangerous situations.

 

Although some areas are more prone to certain natural disasters, the following tips are some of the most common.

 

Flood Preparation

Preparing your home:

 

  1. Make barriers to prevent water from entering your home, such as floodwalls and beams.
  2. Seal your basement walls with waterproofing compounds so water doesn’t seep inside.
  3. Bring outdoor items inside and move important items to the upper level of your home or place them on high shelves if possible.
  4. Turn off electrical appliances and utilities at main switches and valves.

If you’re unable to evacuate:

 

  1. Avoid walking through moving water. If you must walk through water, find a spot where water isn’t moving and use a stick to check for ground firmness.
  2. Don’t drive in flooded areas, and evacuate your car if the water rises around it.
  3. Don’t touch electrical equipment if you’re in water or wet.

Hurricane Preparation

Preparing your home:

 

  1. Trim and remove damaged trees and limbs.
  2. Secure your roof, windows, doors, loose gutters and downspouts.
  3. Remove debris and clear clogged areas around your home to prevent water damage.
  4. Consider building a storm shelter.

If you’re unable to evacuate:

 

  1. Have a portable generator in case of power outages, but don’t plug it into a wall outlet or use it indoors if it is gas-powered.
  2. Have an emergency kit and evacuate to your storm shelter if you have one.
  3. If you don’t have a storm shelter, go to the most secure building possible and avoid windows.
  4. Have a weather radio so you know when the storm has passed. Although the storm may seem like it’s ending, it could just be the eye of the storm.

Wildfire Preparation

Most wildfires are actually caused by people and are preventable, but if a wildfire does occur, follow these safety tips.

 

Preparing your home:

 

  1. Clear leaves and other flammable debris from your gutters, porch, deck, and yard. You should clear at least a 200-foot area around your home.
  2. Close your windows, doors, and vents.
  3. Turn off natural gas, propane, or fuel oil supplies.
  4. Fill pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, or other large containers with water to try to slow and stop the fire.

If you’re unable to evacuate:

 

  1. Don’t try to outrun a wildfire. Find a pond, river, or another body of water to crouch in.
  2. If there are no bodies of water nearby, find an area with little vegetation and lie low to the ground while covering your body with wet clothing, a blanket, or soil.
  3. If possible, breathe through a wet cloth, or breathe the air closest to the ground.

Check out National Geographic for more natural disaster safety tips.

 

How Your Funeral Home Can Help Your Community

Your funeral home can be a valuable resource for your community during a disaster:

 

  1. Know your community’s evacuation routes and shelter locations.
  2. Know how to communicate with your community officials.
  3. Keep in mind locations that might need a special evacuation plan, such as nursing homes and hospice centers.
  4. Have your funeral home’s staff get CPR certified and make sure they know how to perform basic first aid.
  5. Make sure your staff knows how to operate a fire extinguisher and how to shut off your funeral home’s utilities if necessary.
  6. Open your funeral home’s doors to families who may be displaced from their home after disaster strikes.
  7. Create emergency kit and evacuation plan checklists to give to your client families and community members.
  8. Join the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT). To apply, search for your region’s DMORT team and fill out the online application.

DMORT is a team of experts in victim identification and mortuary services for large-scale disasters in the United States. This team is made up of funeral directors, coroners, medical examiners, and others who specialize in identifying and storing bodies. There are 10 teams assigned to assisting different regions of the United States.

 

Some of DMORT’s responsibilities include:

  • Temporary morgue facilities (such as temporary fridges or DMORT workstations)
  • Victim identification
  • Forensics dental pathology and anthropology methods
  • Proper disposition of remains

Does your funeral home have a disaster plan in place? Share your tips in the comments below!