Could you manage without electricity for a couple of days? What if a major storm left you stranded at home? Or worse, if a hurricane drove you from your home?
While Emergency management experts stress the importance of personal readiness, Americans are, in general, woefully unprepared for the next disaster that might lurk around the corner.
I recently appeared on Maine Watch, a news program on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network with Joshua Frances, MPH, an emergency management expert, to discuss personal preparedness, and what Americans can — and should — do to be ready when an emergency arises.
“Preparing for an emergency helps you better manage it,” says Josh, who shares the belief that personal preparedness is a civic responsibility we all share. “By preparing for a disaster, you also reduce the odds that emergency responders will be called to assist you,” he says. “This frees them up to aid those who may unable to fend for themselves and really need help — such as the elderly or those with health issues.”
So, what should you do to prepare?
Consider the possibilities
First, identify what emergencies you’re most likely to encounter in your area. For example, New Englanders should look at the possibility of an ice storm knocking power, while those in the Midwest might want to think about preparing for a tornado.
From there, consider what the impact would be, and how you could prepare for the worst. Some things to consider:
- Have a family disaster plan and have practice it. Include all family members in planning and practice.
- Have at least one member of your household is trained in first aid and CPR/AED.
A “Shelter in Place Kit” helps you ride out an event, such as a blizzard, if you decide to hunker down at home. Items to include:
- First Aid kit
- Flashlights and batteries
- Water – plan for one gallon per person per day
- Non-perishable food
Be Ready to ‘Go’
Some circumstances might drive you from your home. To prepare for these, such as home fires, make a “Go Bag,” with essential items:
- List of medications and health care providers
- Emergency contact information
- Emergency clothing
- Games for the kids
- Pet food, toys, extra leash
Note: Keep your important papers protected from the elements in a plastic bag
Pack the car
It’s also wise to keep some basic emergency supplies in your car, should you be stranded:
- Warm clothing – hats, wool socks, gloves
- First Aid Kit
- Sand (for traction if you’re stuck)
Home fires are the most common , and deadliest type of disaster, so make sure your house has working smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside sleeping areas, and on every level. While you’re at it, add a carbon monoxide detector on each level, too.
And, don’t wait until the last minute to prepare. You’ll find long lines and short supplies at the store.
Learn more about preparedness at Ready.gov
Sandy’s devastation reminds us to be prepared