Added on February 2, 2018 by Jared_Rodgers
In October 2017 I took an opportunity to travel to Corpus Christi, Texas to offer my assistance to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. What I witnessed was complete devastation, as Hurricane Harvey had no mercy with its path of destruction. I witness people grieving the loss of their homes, belongings, pets and, for some, a loved one. A home is the symbol of our hard work, memories, familiarity and security. It is our safe haven. What took a lifetime to build was leveled in a matter of minutes leaving many asking, "Where do we go from here?"
Going through a disaster like Hurricane Harvey is a life changing experience. We can never predict the next disaster; yet there are ways we can prepare and respond which could save our life or the lives of those we love.
If you experience a major disaster, the odds are it will be a natural disaster. Natural disasters typically result in flooding, damaging winds, freezing temperatures, or fires. We cannot predict disasters, but we should have an educated idea what the potential disasters are for the area we live in. Is your community susceptible to heavy rains, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, droughts, or forest fires?
In my previous home I lived within a 10 mile radius of a nuclear power plant. I understood that my family may face a potential nuclear power plant emergency. Understanding the potential disasters in your area is the foundation for preparing an emergency plan that may save lives, including pets.
The main objective of an emergency plan should be to save lives - but not necessarily your personal belongings. An emergency plan can potentially reduce damages to a home or valuables, but the priority really must be personal survival.
Many states or counties have an Office of Emergency Management. On the federal government level many of us know it as FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). Make an effort to either contact your local office or visit their website. Often these offices have resources, pamphlets or booklets available for the community to utilize when creating an emergency plan. Some items to address in your plan are the following:
There is much more to prepare - so plan ahead. From my personal understanding, you want to prepare for at least 72 hours of survival. I actually have in my car and at home what is called a bug out bag. This is a bag that has the necessary supplies and emergency signals to survive and be found within 72 hours. I never want to experience such a predicament, but if faced with a major disaster, I want to be prepared.
What is your emergency preparedness plan?
Is your elderly loved one or person with special needs able to safely evacuate in response to an emergency? When creating your plan, ensure you include a Senior Emergency Preparedness strategy for elderly or special need family members. I recommend contacting your local fire or police department to register those who might need assistance in an emergency. It is also recommended to contact the state or county Office of Emergency Management to register your elderly parent in case of a state mandated evacuation. For example, in the state of New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy many shore line homes were required to evacuate.
I had a coach who taught: "Practice does not make perfect. It makes permanent." Practice your emergency plan. You may feel silly or think that it is extreme, but it may be essential for survival. Practice starting the generator, climbing down the fold away fire ladder, starting a fire, driving the escape route, etc. Executing the emergency plan will instill confidence or allow you to see opportunities for improvement. Be flexible and think of several different scenarios. I do not recommend living in a state of paranoia, but in a state of confident readiness.