An ounce of prevention...
At some point over the next 24 months, I can guarantee that 2 million people will need to be evacuated from their homes due to a natural disaster. I can't tell you where or when, but our changing global weather patterns make this prediction an absolute certainty. Never before have we seen the severity or frequency of hurricanes, tornadoes or droughts. Aside from the weather, other natural disasters including earthquakes, tsunami's, avalanche, landslides and flooding continue to happen, and potential manmade disasters (chemical spills) are always a possibility. I don't mean to dwell in the negative, but rather point out the possibility. As simple as it would be to design a plan and organize an emergency kit, only 7% of North Americans have taken the steps necessary to plan for an emergency.
So...how about you? In a major disaster situation, a major relief effort takes 48-72-hours to organize and deploy. If something were to happen today, would you be able to care for yourself and your family for 3 days without power or running water? If the cell phone network was jammed, do you have a backup plan for contacting relatives? Anticipating these things in advance and putting a plan in place will allow you to focus on more important things.
Part 1- Recognize the risks
Not all places are equally prone to a natural disaster. If you live along the Gulf Coast, you are at increased risk for a hurricane and flooding between July and November. Those in the midwest are more vulnerable to tornadoes, while people living on the Pacific are at increased earthquake risk. The plan you make in Part 2 below will need to account for the differences in your specific area.
Part 2 - MAKE A PLAN
Everybody in your household needs to be clear on what their role is and what to do in the event of an emergency. You will not be able to anticipate everything, but drawing up a Plan has two benefits. Firstly, it will give you the opportunity to think through your needs so that you can assemble a survival kit. Secondly, it will give you a game plan for managing the disaster (as opposed to needing to conceive a plan when you are in a state of shock).
How easy is this step? Very simple. I found a fillable form a this Government of Canada website, fill in the questions and print the plan. It took my family 45 minutes and we are all crystal clear on what to do in the event of an emergency. This questionnaire will guide you through issues such safe exits, meeting places, designated person to pick up other family members, an out-of-town contact person, pet care, and insurance.
Part 3 - Emergency Survival KIT
There are 2 ways to go about this step - start with a checklist and gather your own items individually or buy a pre-assembled kit. Either way is just as good provided you have planned for food, water, shelter and supplies (including first aid kit) in sufficient quantity to last until help arrives. While you are planning this kit, don't forget to include provisions for each of your home, office and car. If you want a one stop online shop for all your supplies, American Family Safety has a full product line. The cost of assembling a reasonable kit is between $100 and $300 depending on how much you need. If you are unable to buy all the necessary items today, make a plan to slowly grow your kit over the next several months.
Part 4 - STAY INFORMED
In situations such as hurricanes and floods, advance notice can be given ahead of the event. , advance notice is given to an expected natural disaster. Be sure to bookmark the list of sites specific for your area so that you can monitor potential events.
The adage "an ounce of prevention buys a pound of cure" is very appropriate when it comes to planning for an emergency. With a plan in place and a readily accessible Emergency Kit, you will have the peace of mind that should disaster strike, you can be self-sufficient until help arrives.
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