At some point in your life, if you haven’t already, you will experience some type of disaster or emergency. While we cannot predict when every emergency will happen, we can do our best to prepare for them ahead of time. The first step is to change how we think about disasters and emergencies. You have to consider the impacts that an emergency or disaster will have on you personally. The plans for a single mom of three will look different from that of a senior living alone. While across the board there are basic needs that everyone should have, making it personal can aide in the recovery process. There needs to be a shift in thinking that realizes disasters can happen at any time. Preparing for them can seem like a large task but when broken down into small steps, being prepared can be very achievable.
Why Should You Prepare?
There are several benefits to being prepared. When a disaster happens, it is often associated with a lot of fear, anxiety and stress. One way to lessen those impacts is to prepare ahead of time. There is also a financial impact that can be lessened by taking steps to do things such as protecting your home. There are options to flood proof your home for example. FEMA studies have shown after a disaster most survivors will rely on insurance but sometimes that insurance does not fully cover the cost of repairs. Setting money aside in case you need to buy supplies or pay for a hotel will come in handy. Disasters can have long lasting impacts to everyday life so it is important to do what you can in advance to help the recovery process. Even taking small steps such as talking with your family about what you plan to do in an emergency can alleviate some of the worry by ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
You are Your Own First Responder
During a disaster, first responders and other local officials are unable to reach everyone immediately. You could wait as little as a few hours for help or you can wait days. Be prepared to survive without outside help for a minimum of three days. Be sure that you have an emergency kit, and other items such as water for your household (including pets), and a list of important contacts. If the power goes out for an extended amount of time, be sure to have a power outage plan that includes how to charge your phone, lighting, such as flashlights, heat if needed, and know proper food storage when the refrigerator isn’t working. Weather or emergency radios will come in handy to continue to receive emergency alerts when you cannot receive them any other way. When emergency alerts are given by officials, be sure to follow instructions for your safety.
Make it Personal
Your emergency preparedness plan may not look like everyone else’s plan. If you have someone in your home that has special needs, take that into consideration as well. For example, if someone requires medication, a list of medication should be written down in an accessible place. If there infants in the home, having extra formula and diapers on hand will come in handy in case you cannot get to the store. Some disasters require that you evacuate home in a hurry, therefore having a go bag stashed by the door will help that process. You also have the option to keep an emergency bag in your car. You may need items for your pets or certain food items for those with dietary restrictions which are all things to keep in mind.
More Resilient Communities
When individuals are more prepared, it has a ripple effect. Those who are confident in their preparedness have the ability to check with their neighbors to see if they are in need of help. When neighbors help neighbors, stronger, more resilient communities are built. Neighbors can come together at various community events and meetings and spend time talking about how not only to prepare themselves but also their community. Across the county, neighborhoods have come together to purchase supplies to be use specifically for their community for when a disaster strikes at resiliency hubs. This gives the community a better foundation to operate from when its time to recover.
Disasters are disruptive, tragic, and operate on a low visibility level. You cannot always see or predict exactly when disasters or emergencies will happen and therefore the best thing you can do is to prepare for them. You may have to become your own first responder. But if you are ready then you can reduce your stress and worry. The way you think about disasters should be viewed from an individual level that will have a positive impact on the community as a whole. What can you do today that will help you become better prepared when a disaster strikes?