Friday, May 20, 2011
At one time or another, we've all said those words. The truth is - stuff is always happening - and it's happening to someone who spoke those very words.
Preparing for the unexpected isn't something we put on our To Do list. It's not like laundry or dishes that demand our attention on a regular basis. It's not something that gnaws at our subconscious reminding us to, Be Prepared! But when the unexpected happens, catching us unaware ...well, then it's in the forefront of our every waking thought. It demands our complete and undivided attention. "If only we'd thought of that sooner" becomes the new mantra.
Humans have the wonderful ability to put off until tomorrow what doesn't need done today. But when it comes to disaster preparedness, we must think today about what we'll need tomorrow. Time and again I hear people, especially here in Ohio, say - "Oh, we're not the target of any terrorist threat, we don't have earthquakes or hurricanes - what's the point of preparing for something that'll never happen?"
Let's take a look at Ohio and what we have happening. Ice and snow storms. Flooding and yes, we even have earthquakes. A 5.4 magnitude quake shook western Ohio in 1937 and as recently as March 17, 2011, a magnitude 2.6 quake rattled the morning coffee cup.
For a complete history of Ohio quakes, click here.
And what about personal disasters? Can you imagine your home burning to the ground, your possessions fueling the all-consuming blaze? I'd call that a disaster.
So, even here in "safe" Ohio, we're under threat of debilitating winter storms, crushing ice storms, fire, severe flooding, tornadoes ...oh my, what can we do?!
About the climate and weather, nothing. What we can do is prepare ourselves as best we can to help mitigate the impact to our property, our family, and ourselves. The good news is that we can do a lot in this area. Whether it's a weather disaster, or a personal crisis we are responsible for how we react and respond. Wouldn't it be nice to have some tools in our toolbox to aid and support us through this trying time?
There are numerous ways you can acquire those "tools". Attending a safety seminar at your local firehouse is a great way to learn how to keep your home and family safe. Fire safety personnel are a fantastic resource for fire safety information and are more often than not happy to share fire safety tips. Do you know how to use a fire extinguisher? What size fire can you safety extinguish? What type of extinguisher goes with which type of fire? Wouldn't it be nice to know the answers to these questions before you NEED to know the answers to these questions? Here's a quick 2-minute video to help you with some of those answers:
Ok, so now we've thought about fire, but there's still so much to think about and prepare for! I know, it's a lot to deal with all at once, but that's the good thing about preparedness - you don't have to do it all at once. A little bit of attention a little bit at a time can build you a physical and psychological tool kit you'll be able to draw from when the need arises. That's the good news. But you have to start. And you have to start now.
The first step in learning what kind of disasters to prepare for might be to learn your city's hazard profile. Often, your state EMA can help you with this question. As an example, flooding and tornadoes are of particular concern here in Ohio. While you can't predict what type of disaster you'll have to deal with, you can always prepare. And preparation helps prevent panic.
There are a ton of resources to help you with the planning and preparing part. Often the hardest part is sifting though the mountain of information out there. Some sites lead you to believe that when it comes to disaster preparedness, anything less than a fully stocked underground bunker is pointless. That's just not true. You want to think ahead to what you'll need to keep you and your family alive and well should say, you're snowed-in and can't leave your house for three days. Or, what's my family's plan if there's a home fire? The questions you ask now and the plans you make can mean the difference between a struggle for survival versus safe, sustainable living through the trouble.
Start thinking about what you use on a daily basis. What you can and couldn't live without. A great exercise is to pack what you think you'd need to survive for three days - and live off that. Take it a step further and live from your pack outdoors for a time. Not a big fan of camping? Wouldn't it be better to see what it's like when you don't have to live that way versus when you're left with no option?
Finally, remember you don't have to do everything all at once. I do hope this gets your thinker thinking and maybe puts disaster preparedness on your To Do list. There's a ton of resource material out there to help you, but whatever you do, make sure your plan fits you, your family, your circumstances. Planning and practice helps prevent panic. Make the decision to be one of the folks who come out the other side saying, "We had the right tools when we needed them. We made it."
Here are some useful links to preparedness supplies you'll want in your pack:
Emergency blankets and bags
First Aid kits
CPR barriers and masks
Click here to prepare, plan and stay informed with the help of Ready.gov.