September is “National Preparedness Month” in the United States and so each September I try to encourage readers to set aside time to plan for those emergencies that - hopefully – will never happen. Even so, since it is a national initiative, it will bode well for each of us to at least consider this topic and to seek to become part of the solution – rather than add to the challenges – in the event that we are faced with an emergency situation.
In disaster preparedness, the saying is, “The first 72 is on you,” meaning that in the first 72 hours following a disaster, residents should be able to take care of themselves - unless, of course, they are injured.
With that in mind, this week and next I will provide you with 10 questions – 5 each week - to assess your level of personal preparedness. The idea is to develop a “score sheet” that can then be converted into an action plan to upgrade your personal level of readiness.
Check these next 5 questions (5 more next week):
- Do you have a personal emergency plan?
You should have a plan specific to the emergency scenarios that are likely to impact your region. For some areas, flooding is a concern; for others it could be an earthquake; for all of us in this day and age, it is preparation for terrorist and/or active shooter scenarios. Ask yourself, “Do I plans for communicating with my family, sheltering in place, supplies in your car if you are away from your home, and – if necessary - leaving your home on short or no-notice?
- Do you have a three-day supply of non-perishable food at home so that you are able to survive without electricity if the local or regional power grid is disrupted?
“Trail mix,” high-calorie nutrition bars, canned chicken, canned fruit, canned -- anything that is ready to eat without the need to be heated/cooked and that is easy to open without power. It is also a good idea to develop a strategy to rotate these items so that they remain fresh (Consult the expiration dates on packaging).
- Do you have at least one gallon of water per day for each per family member that will last at least three days?
For most people, if power is lost, the ability to turn on the faucet and have water available is compromised – and/or the public water source may have become contaminated and is unsafe to drink. The recommended minimum is one gallon per person per day – add more if you include cooking (outdoor barbeque?) and bathing in your plan.
- Do you have cash on hand, mostly in small bills - $1, $5, $10 – to use for acquiring supplies that you don’t have or in the event that you run out of something vital to your personal well-being.
Based on the nature of the event, banks and ATM’s, and credit-card or other electronic charging systems may not function for a period of time. In such an event, having cash on hand would be good preparation. to make basic purchases.
- Do you have a well-thought-through “Go Bag” assembled and ready for no-notice departure in the event that you need – or are required - to leave home quickly (for an unknown duration)? – possibly longer than a couple days
FEMA recommends this bag includes water, food, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, hand-crank flashlight, batteries, a first aid kit, a filter mask, whistle, a manual can opener, duct tape with plastic sheeting, garbage bags and ties, and any family-specific needs (prescription meds, pet food/supplies, infant formula/diapers and important family identification documents). My personal plan is that I keep these items in my car and in a small backpack with a change of shoes for walking distances if needed. Alternately you could utilize a duffle bag or a 5-gallon bucket.
By providing this information our goal is to participate in the Nation’s “Preparedness Month” activity in order to be prepared to care for ourselves and our loved ones for several days or weeks until the local and regional authorities can implement a recovery plan.
Next week I will provide the second 5 elements of the check list for this purpose. Stay turn – and prepared!