Hurricanes. Wild fires. Earthquakes. Floods. An exploding gas pipeline in the neighborhood. For years, emergency preparedness has been advocated and advised by emergency responders, government agencies, and insurance companies. So are you ready? I’m not.
Excuses for not being prepared for an emergency:
- The supply list seems so long and funds seem so short. Why spend money on something you don’t intend to use?
- Where to store it all. As someone who moved from 1400 sq ft to 900 sq ft, this issue is very real.
- Isn’t that what the Red Cross is for?
- Lifestyle. Why should a single apartment dweller be worried about such a thing? Why not just get in your car and leave the stricken area?
While this seems like a strange topic for a personal blog, it has long been on my mind. And since September is National Preparedness Month, I just had to jump in to the fray.
As someone who has prepared emergency response plans for businesses, I have often thought that employers should get involved in helping workers prepare for emergencies. Why? Because when it comes to a business resuming operations after a disaster, their most valuable asset is their employees. Moreover, they can buy supplies in bulk and reduce the cost to each household.
Solution to acquiring the items on the supply list:
Break the big list down into smaller shopping lists. Get storage containers first, then stow items in them as they are purchased (Big Lots has big, clear plastic containers for about $9 each). Make a 12-week plan. Why 12 weeks? Because 3 months is a good length of time. Most of us break our income into monthly periods, so it’s easier to budget these purchases this way. Take 6 months if you absolutely need to do so, but 6 months makes it a long-term project, more likely to be abandoned before completion.
Depending on where you live, some of the things you need may be big-ticket items. Safe rooms in tornado alley, impact-resistant roofing in areas assaulted by hail and wind, and so on. Those may, in fact, require some longer-term projects and planning. But check with your insurer and your accountant. You may be eligible for tax and premium credits/discounts or even grants for purchasing these important building improvements.
Where to store it all:
Despite my own lack of space, I know I can find room in a closet or in the single-car garage for two or three large plastic containers. So can you. It’s important. Make room.
What the Red Cross can and cannot do:
The Red Cross does an excellent job of responding to disasters. They offer food and temporary shelter when possible. But don’t expect them to be knocking on your door within two hours after the earthquake or the river overflows its banks. In fact, the Red Cross says that it may be two to three days before assistance is near enough to help you. You need to be prepared to be self-sustaining in the interim.
Driving away from a disaster may not be possible:
Having survived many earthquakes in California (Sylmar, 1971; Whittier Narrows, 1986; Northridge, 1994 – my favorite – I had surgery scheduled that morning), I can tell you that gas stations may be shut down, ATMs may not be operating (do you keep emergency cash on hand?), or roads may be impassable. Your car may be in 4 feet of water, crushed under a garage roof, or sitting on top of a roof across town. If you live in an area where evacuation in advance is possible and probable, this may not be as much of an issue. But keep in mind that the worst non-subduction zone earthquakes in U.S. history occurred in New Madrid, Missouri (1811-1812).
If the most likely event is one that will require evacuation, begin disaster season in your region with a bag packed for each person in the household. You need to be able to fly out the door. Wouldn’t it be a good thing to have a clean change of clothes or two?
So let’s get started. Get your home ready. Get your business ready. Talk to your employer about getting the entire staff prepared, especially if your company is one that people will need after the disaster. Break the tasks into manageable pieces, but keep moving forward.
Here are some resources to help us get started:
A good list of tax credits, insurance discounts, grant programs available for specific states: http://www.insurance.com/home-and-renters-insurance/natural-disasters/4-ways-to-save-money-on-disaster-preparedness.html
This is a one-stop site for households and businesses. Hosted by FEMA, you’ll find a lot of good information here, including the supply kit shopping list and ways to prepare children and people with special needs for emergencies. http://www.ready.gov/
If you’d rather buy than build your disaster survival kit: http://www.1800prepare.com/pages/Preparedness-Checklist.html
Of course, the American Red Cross provides information about disaster preparedness. And after you think you’re ready, you can sign up for a first-aid class or to volunteer to help others: http://www.redcross.org/
ADD this site to your phone’s browser favorites. You’ll get information after a disaster, including their twitter feed and phone numbers you’ll need if you require disaster assistance. They also have your kit shopping list so you have no excuse for not having it with you. http://m.fema.gov/
Now make a commitment to yourself. Buy stuff you hope you’ll never need, but need to have anyway. Let’s get this done!
“He tried to hit me with a forklift!” (for today’s Daily Post)
Submitted to Daily Post: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/daily-prompt-nonsequitur/