Disaster Comes in Many Forms
Preparing for disasters is preparing everyone you love.
It takes less than five minutes of watching or reading local, national, or international news to learn of a disaster somewhere in the world. Disaster comes in many forms and in the wake of the unspeakable tragedy and disaster of September 11, 2001, the US deemed September National Preparedness Month.
Weather plays an integral role in the cause of many disasters. Hurricane season brings storms chock full of damaging wind and rain. Levees break, ocean waves surge, punishing winds reduce homes to matchsticks in seconds, and neighborhoods are swept away.
A combination of drought, high heat, and low rainfall are common ingredients for wildfires. The season that typically lasts from May through October is seeing a paradigm shift as wildfires continued to rage on straight through the end of 2020 and into 2021.
Earthquakes and tornados round out the natural disaster menu, and while these may be more prevalent in specific regions, it is not out of the question to experience these weather beasts all over the country.
And of course, how can we forget the public health crisis of the coronavirus?
Prepare to Protect
Each year the government sets a theme to National Preparedness Month and this year’s theme is Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is preparing everyone you love. Recommendations include devoting each week of the month to an aspect of emergency preparedness:
Make a Plan & Practice It
While all preparations are important, creating a plan is a critical first step. Most importantly, all household members need to be familiar with it.
- How will you communicate with one another and/or other family members?
- Where will you meet?
- How will pets be cared for?
Another essential element of planning is practicing the plan, especially when children are involved, so be sure to incorporate this into the overall preparations. FEMA has created an emergency communication plan that offers practical guidance. Once your plan is in place, be sure also to share it with your trusted emergency contact(s).
Build an Emergency Kit
Whether you need to leave your home or shelter in place, an emergency kit can serve as your go-to for your disaster survival needs. The contents of course will be quite specific to account for the age, medical status, and cultural considerations of your household. Click here for a checklist of basic items to include in your emergency kit.
Take Low Cost, No Cost Steps
While weather disasters can wipe out communication systems, your smartphone may be of more service than you think. Text messages for instance may transmit more successfully than phone calls. There are several apps available ranging from severe weather alerts, to making medical information accessible to first responders, to first aid resources. Learn about these life-saving tools, choose what may work best for you and install on your phone and those of family members.
Now is also the time to review vital documents and revise any information necessary. From insurance policies to medication lists to family contact information, be sure these updated materials are both safeguarded and accessible.
Teach Youth About Preparedness
Natural disasters can be scary to witness or experience at any age, and more so for children, so education is key. Include your kids in planning and creating your family’s emergency kit to help them understand how to stay safe. Games and activity books are available to introduce the subject and foster understanding in fun and non-scary ways.
No one prepares for a disaster with the hopes of putting preparations into action. Still, it is important to acknowledge the possibility, take the necessary precautions, and keep the safety of your family paramount. Having a plan in place may ease some of the anxiety while offering peace of mind. There is a wealth of information available to help guide you through the process. A full menu of planning documents and activities can be found at Ready.gov.