No matter where you live, chances are you might someday have to cope with a natural disaster. Whether you’re most likely to encounter an earthquake, fire, flood, or some other hazard, certain steps immediately spring to mind—like having a clear evacuation plan and assembling an emergency kit. But there might be additional steps you haven’t thought about that can also help keep your family out of harm’s way.
We hope you never experience a serious emergency, but to be on the safe side, here are five ways Evernote can help you prepare for a natural disaster.
1. Your plan, at the ready
Many types of disasters can strike suddenly, giving you very little time to think. If a disaster struck today, would your family know where to meet if you became separated? Would all of you be ready to subsist for a few days on your own? That’s why you need a solid plan in place before an emergency occurs.
But just having a plan isn’t enough, it needs to be accessible at a moment’s notice by everyone who might need it. Hard copies of the plan can easily get lost or damaged, and they’re not so easy to update.
Consider saving your plan as a note in Evernote and sharing it with everyone who lives with you. This will make it available on the devices they already carry with them every day—no need to remember where the plan is located. And with offline access, they’ll be able to see the plan even if there’s an internet outage.
Concerned about relying on devices that require electricity? It’s true that in an emergency, you might find yourself without power. That’s why it’s still a good idea to print the note with your plan and distribute a copy to everyone who needs it so they each have a backup, just in case.
2. Practice. Update. Repeat.
Remember fire drills in school? Experts recommend that you do a similar routine practice with your disaster plan, so the first time you’re following the instructions isn’t in the middle of a stressful situation.
Makes sense, but how often do you really think to practice duck, cover, and hold in your daily life? With your plan in Evernote, you can add a task to run through it and set a reminder to make sure you get it done. You can even assign tasks to the members of your household, so everyone stays on the same page.
It’s also important to regularly update your plan as things change in your life. Got a new family member or pet living with you? Did you move into a new home last year? If so, it’s probably time for a few revisions. Any changes you make to your plan in Evernote sync automatically to everyone sharing the note. That way they always have the latest version you created.
3. Keep your kit in shape
Every bit as important as your disaster plan is your emergency kit—complete with food, water, flashlights, batteries, and other crucial supplies. Preparing your kit in advance of any emergency makes it easier to remember items you might otherwise forget, like prescription medications, pet food, and games for the kids. When you’re ready to put your kit together, create a checklist in Evernote to help make sure you include everything you need.
But assembling your kit is just the beginning. You also need to maintain it. Food, batteries, and medications expire. New supply needs arise. Fire extinguishers don’t last forever either. It’s a good idea to check your kit every six months and replace anything that’s beyond its shelf life.
If a bi-annual emergency kit maintenance interval sounds a little hard to remember, don’t worry. We got you. Set a reminder on the note with your checklist to update your kit in six months.
Want to schedule your maintenance using Google Calendar instead? No problem. With Evernote connected to your calendar, you can link notes to your calendar events. Let’s say you create a Google Calendar event to update your kit in six months. In Evernote, you can link your kit checklist to that event. When the time comes to maintain your kit, you’ll get a calendar notification that puts your checklist just a click away.
4. Reconnect and regroup
Disasters don’t always strike when the whole family is conveniently sitting together in the living room. If one occurs while you’re at work and the kids are at school, you’ll need a way to get messages to each other if you’re not able to do so via cell phone or other normal channels.
In an emergency, it’s often easiest to reach people who live outside your area. Whether this is a family member or a close friend, it’s important that everyone in your household knows who to get in touch with if they can’t reach each other. Sticking an emergency contact sheet to the refrigerator isn’t a bad idea, but it’s only helpful if you happen to be at home when you need it.
Consider creating your emergency contact list in Evernote, with phone numbers and email addresses for everyone in your household and a designated out-of-town contact who can help field communications and pass along messages.
While you’re at it, include info for your doctor, offices, your kids’ schools, or any public services you might want to access if a disaster strikes. Then print hard copies as backups to keep in your purse, your car, the kids’ backpacks, and yeah, on the fridge.
Already have all of this information written down somewhere? Scan it into Evernote and share it with everyone who needs it. If you have business cards for any important contacts, even better. Evernote’s camera can recognize business cards and create well-organized notes with the necessary information, all automatically.
5. Protect your property
Once you’ve made all of the necessary preparations to help keep your family safe, it’s time to think about your living space and any property you’ve insured. It’s a good idea to review your insurance policies to make sure they meet your needs, as most policies don’t cover damage from all types of disasters.
Next, you’ll want to take an inventory of all your personal property. This might sound like a tall order, but to help make it easier, we created this Personal Property Inventory template with a lot of the important categories already outlined and organized for you. When you’re ready to take your inventory, save a copy of the template to your Evernote and start filling in the blanks. You’ll be glad you did this if you end up needing to make an insurance claim, as it’ll help you get through the process more quickly.
Since you’re taking your inventory in Evernote, it’s saved automatically and synced to all of your devices. At this point, you might also scan your insurance policies to keep them in the same note as your inventory, so if you have to make a claim, everything you need is all in one place. It also never hurts to print hard copies and store them in a safe place—like with a family member who doesn’t live with you, or a safety deposit box—as an added precaution.
There you have it—five ways Evernote can help you prepare for a natural disaster. While it isn’t the most pleasant thing to think about, we hope these tips help you feel more at ease and ready to contend with a serious emergency, which we sincerely hope you never have to do.