Create a Disaster Plan
Why should you create a disaster plan? Disasters always happen somewhere else, right?
Disasters can happen anywhere and anytime. Just think of all the hurricanes, fires, floods, etc. that happen all the time. Disasters often strike when you least expect them. They kill hundreds to hundreds of thousands of people. Many times with little or no warning. You don’t want to wait until disaster strikes to formulate a plan to deal with circumstances. A disaster plan can help you cope with the situation as well as helping you survive. Every individual or family should be organized and ready when the unexpected arises.
Family Disaster Planning
Your family is your priority during a disaster, right? So to protect your family and assure you all survive a disaster you need to formulate a disaster plan now. A family disaster plan is a MUST for every family.
First you should identify the likely disaster scenarios in your local area. I live on the gulf coast of Florida, so obviously I have to be aware of the hurricane threat. But there is also a rail line that runs through my city. Rail lines transport dangerous chemicals. A chemical emergency is a remote but very real danger when rail lines pass through a community. It wouldn’t make sense for my home kit to be used to prepare for a tidal wave hitting, since I’m over 30 miles inland. As a family, you should identify what disasters might reasonably strike your home town and immediate area. Having planned out things like roles and responsibilities prior to a disaster will make things easier to cope with if the unthinkable happens.
Preparing while you don’t have the pressure of impending doom is always the best choice. It’s going to be pretty hard to think of rational solutions when you are suddenly faced with rising flood waters that you can’t do anything about. Keep the following in mind: there may be no telephone lines or cell phone signals or no electricity. Since most pumps for the water system run on electricity, if you lose power you will probably end up with no water. You should plan on a minimum 72 hour (3 day) supply of food and water for each family member. This supply can be as simple as canned food and bottled water, or as high tech as freeze dried food that can last up to 25 years. It comes down to your choice and your budget. Just remember that hoping it doesn’t happen to you won’t cut it in an survival situation.
If You Need to Evacuate
If you are asked by the emergency personnel to evacuate then it’s best to do so. Have emergency supplies packed in a way you can grab them and go on short notice. Take only what you need for a few days. This isn’t the time to pack the whole wardrobe for the family. If you have to go to a shelter they won’t have room for a ton of personal belongings. You’ll have to leave them in your car which will just invite theft or looting by desperate individuals. Remember during an evacuation fuel may be in short supply as well. Extra weight in the vehicle will only decrease your fuel mileage.
Here a few suggestions of things to consider when formulating your disaster plan:
1. Know what type of disasters might affect your community and base your disaster plan on that.
2. Know if your community has a warning system. If yes, can you recognize it at any given minute? For example, many communities in tornado prone regions have tornado sirens.
3. Give consideration to the elderly, disabled and pets. Extra planning may be needed to make sure they are safe.
4. Set a place where your entire family could meet in case you cannot return to your home. Have backup plans in case the first place is inaccessible.
5. Plan escape and evacuation routes multiple ways in case one is not an option. Always have a backup plan to the backup plan.
6. Keep emergency numbers in a safe place above possible flood waters and in a fireproof box if possible. Also keep a copy in all the family cars in case one isn’t available or is disabled.
7. Don’t just create a plan and then put it in storage. Come up with times to practice the plan and then record any issues you find. Adjust your disaster plan to correct with the things in your original plan you identify as weaknesses.
8. Although being physically and mentally prepared is important, you need to be totally prepared. Your disaster kit need to include basic necessities (food and some toiletries). Arrange a kit where there is a 72 hour supply of food and water for everyone. Soap and other basic toiletries will help with your health in a disaster scenario. Basic hygiene is important to remain healthy and can also help lift your spirits. Being dirty and feeling unlike yourself can affect you mentally during a survival situation. A flashlight and spare batteries, fire starting items just in case, and a solar or crank powered radio to get the latest information are also recommended.
9. If you are financially able purchase a small generator for your home. This can allow you to remain somewhat more comfortable if you lose power. It can also keep food from spoiling by plugging in a refrigerator or freezer.
10. Remain calm and keep children calm and occupied. Plan with your children what to do and who to contact should you become separated.
I hope you will begin planning for the day an emergency may happen. Although we hope it never will, it’s better to be prepared.