Disasters and emergencies often come with little to no warning. Almost anyone can attest to a time where something has happened and they were not prepared for what was happening. The best way to deal with unforeseen disasters is to prepare for emergencies ahead of time. Yet, some people face different barriers and challenges that keep them from preparing. The first barrier that has to be assessed and broken down is the idea that you can’t prepare for emergencies. Everyone can do something to position themselves so that they are able to response to a disaster or an emergency to the best of their ability.
Emergency preparedness is viewed by most people are being too hard, too expensive, or too complicated. The first thing a person, family, or even business should do is to assess their risk. Assessing your risks means looking at your situation, needs, and resources, among other things to determine what puts you at risk during an emergency. For example, an individual who wheelchair bound and needs help getting out of the house would need a plan on how to quickly and safely get out of the house if evacuation orders are given. A small business owner would need to have a plan if their employees could not come to work due to a snowstorm, flooding, or even a pandemic. Starting with a risk assessment allows people to think through how they would respond during and after an emergency or disaster.
The mission of Do1Thing for the past twenty years has been to challenge individuals and businesses to prepare for emergencies and disasters by taking small steps, one month at a time. Most people don’t realize that while preparing may seem to be a challenge, it can be broken down into manageable pieces so that the ultimate goal of being prepared can be reached. The first question often asked is, “where do I begin?” The first step to determine what types of disasters or emergencies will affect you. For example, those who live in the Midwest are less susceptible to wildfires as opposed to those who live in California. Therefore, their emergency plan may look different. A mother of three will have to consider a more detailed evacuation plan than a college student living alone. However, the goal remains to same, to start somewhere with having your own personal preparedness plan.
Another misconception to preparedness is that it requires a lot of money in order to have the supplies you need at home. When it is time to start considering the types of supplies you may need, start by looking for what you may already have at home. Once you gather your supplies all in one place, keep them in a safe, dry place that you can easily access. The next step is to make a list (that you can keep with you handy) of other supplies you need. When you go to the grocery store, you can pick up one or more items at a time until you have what you need in your emergency kit. Keep in mind having additional supplies on hand if you have infants, pets, or loved ones with special needs.
Having part of your emergency plan in tact is better than having no plan at all. Business owners and other organizations have much to consider when it comes to prepare for emeregencies. Not only so they have to consider the needs of the business but they also consider the needs of their employees. As a part of their emergency preparedness plan, businesses should encourage their employees to have their own emergency plan in place. If an employee has to report to work during a snowstorm or after other severe weather, then their primary focus may be on their homes and their family as opposed to work. The goal is for these organizations and businesses to have a wide approach to making sure they protect themselves and their employees.
When individuals began to step up to the challenge and get themselves prepared, the better off our communities will be. Research has shown that about forty percent of businesses will not recover after a disaster. That means that people will be without jobs and resources. It has a domino effect on the surrounding communities when as a community as a whole, are not prepared. The barriers that arise when it comes to getting prepared can be overcome when small steps are taken at a time. Once a risk assessment is done an emergency plan becomes personalized, the more disaster resilient our communities become.