By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
― Benjamin Franklin
Preparation is key to action
There is an expectation that men should know how to do almost anything, including being calm and prepared during an emergency situation. This post is designed to help set foundation for your emergency preparation planning.
Natural or man-made disasters occur whether we are ready or not. Here are some tips to make sure you’re not caught unprepared for a disaster.
The first thing you should do is know your risks. Are you in a flood area? Are there tornados? Are there hurricanes? Wild fires? Earthquakes? Severe snow storms? You need to know your risk profiles so you can make the correct choices when developing your disaster plan.
Move quickly with preparation
If you need to leave your home then you’ll need something called the “go-bag or bug-out bag”.
This is a bag you keep prepared and ready to go when you need to evacuate quickly. The basic contents should include:
- First aid kit
- Multi tool
- Extra batteries
- Emergency whistle
- Pain relievers (i.e. ibuprofen)
- Copies of important information (i.e. driver’s license)
- Critical contact information written on paper and stored in a plastic bag
- Nylon cord (i.e. paracord)
- Water filter or water purifier
- Prescription medications
- Dry fire starter and matches (in water resistant case)
- Protective gloves (if not in first aid)
- Leather work gloves
- Charged portable phone charger
- Dust mask
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
― Abraham Lincoln
If you can’t leave then you’ll need to have a designated location in your home away from windows and doors to remain safe. Preparation supplies will be similar to the “bug-out bag” with some differences. You will also need:
- Potable water: 1 gallon per person per day for 3 days. Water bottles have an expiration date, this is not because the water will go bad, it’s because of the bottle. The longer water stays in the bottle changes the flavor of the water. One way to prevent this is to store water bottles in cool areas away from direct sunlight. Light and heat are common ways plastics are broken down.
- Non-perishable food (3-day supply): freeze dried meals work because they contain a lot of calories, they are easy to store, they last for a long time, and as they expire you can cycle them out during camping or fishing trips. Plus, utensils
- Weather radio
- Fire extinguisher
- Chlorine bleach and eye dropper (1 drop bleach per quart water)
- Garbage bags and ties to prevent waste contamination
- Books, games to keep children distracted and pass time.
- Local maps
- Know how to turn off gas and water flowing to your home.
Chance favors the prepared mind.
― Louis Pasteur
Besides the physical supplies, you will need to be mentally prepared. This is where a clear plan comes into play. If you’re separated from your family when a disaster occurs a clear and simple plan can reduce stress in an already stressful situation. Key points of a plan are:
- Have a meet up location(s). If you have a house fire and everyone has to evacuate through a window then pick a place across the street as a designated area. If you have a hurricane or tornado, or other event, pick a building designated as a shelter to meet (local school).
- Know your evacuation route.
- How will you receive emergency alerts?
- How will you move people with special needs?
- Learn CPR and first aid
- Learn how to communicate without cell phones. Use an out of area contact to relay messages.
- Don’t drive through flooded roads, this puts you and rescue workers in danger
Once you have secured yourself in a safe area and everyone is accounted for, then it would be time to volunteer in any capacity you can with response agencies or nonprofit organizations. You may be handy with a chain saw or know how to pilot a boat, you may know how to organize people into working groups, all of this little skills matter when a disaster occurs.
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.