Are You Ready for a Disaster?
Nov 01, 2011
It was more of a trick than a treat for many in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. The record shattering snowstorm that lashed the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on October 29th dumped as much as two feet of snow and left nearly 3 million homes from Maryland to Maine without power.
Today, there are still thousands of people without power in those states. Some are my friends and family. As a result, I’ve been asked a number of times as an emergency manager, “what I can do to be better prepared?”
My best advice is to be sure you have a plan in place. Whether you live by yourself or with a large family; you should always have a plan and supplies ready to go at a moment’s notice. My advice closely follows the advice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Ready.gov website. There, the agency advices everyone to “get a kit, make a plan, and be informed.”
According to FEMA, your go-kit, as I call it, should have:
· Water: Enough for one gallon, per person, per day for a three day period
· Food: At least a three day supply on non-perishable food.
· Communication: Battery operated or hand crank radio and NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert. Be sure to have spare batteries for both. A spare cell phone, coins, or a calling card are also an important consideration.
· Flash light with extra batteries
· First aid kit
· Whistle to signal help
· Dust mask
· Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
· Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
· Can opener or pocket knife
· Local maps
· Cell phone chargers, inverters, or solar chargers.
These are just a number of items to include in your go-kit. Each kit will be different for each household. As the weather changes, the contents of your kit may change too – so you should revisit your supplies several times annually.
When making an emergency plan designate a person, preferably someone who lives out-of-town that you can contact. Everyone in your family should know how to contact that person and you should be able to trust that person to contact other family members to update them of your whereabouts.
You should also consider where you are going to stay in case of an emergency. Are you comfortable sheltering-in-place? What is you are evacuated and shelter is not readily available? These are all important considerations to discuss with your family.
Next, be informed. Do you know what types of natural and man-made disasters are most likely to occur in your area? What method do authorities use to make announcements? Does your child’s school or daycare have an emergency plan? If so, do you have a copy of it? What about your loved one’s workplace? What is their emergency plan?
The bottom line is to have your plan in place before an emergency occurs. It is much easier to make a plan under normal circumstances then when you are undergoing the stress of a natural or man-made disaster. Review your plan and your go-kit several times a year. Depending where you live, you may need to alter your plans based on the weather. Finally, be sure your family members understand the plan in case you are separated.
The easiest thing to do is to use common sense. After a disaster, people feel like they could have done something more for them or their family. That is why I preach preparedness. Finally, I’ll leave you with a frequently used phrase to consider when making your disaster plan. Take the previously mentioned tips in mind and “Know Before You Go.”
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