Emergency Preparedness Planning
Emergency Disaster Planning:
Planning To Survive
One of the biggest heartbreaks surrounding the Hurricane
Katrina aftermath is the lack of preparation made for
such a large-scale evacuation – and the despair of those
who have become separated from their loved ones in the
midst of the chaos and who have no idea if they are
safe, or even alive.
Don't be caught unprepared if a disaster strikes your
family. Before you need it, you and your family should
have a plan in place for reaching safety and for keeping
the others apprised of your situation. Don't rely on
rescue workers and relief organizations to provide for
your family's safety, or to be able to tell you whether
or not they are okay. These organizations, if they're
even present, will almost assuredly be overwhelmed and
understaffed. They will be dealing with the situation
in a triage manner of prioritization and even if they
are able to help locate family members, their information
may be incorrect. Make sure you have alternative plans
for keeping your family safe and connected.
Don't leave your family's survival in an emergency up
to luck and quick thinking. There are far too many things
that can go wrong in such a situation. Set up a plan and
run your family through it a few times a year, just like
a fire drill, to make sure everyone knows what to do.
First, get to safety. Second, take a headcount if possible.
Third, follow the leader until the situation stabilizes.
Fourth, try to make contact with missing members. And
finally, if the emergency is a long-term situation, set
up a "base camp" with routines and regular check-ins to
establish a sense of order and safety as soon as possible.
- Have at least two out-of-state relatives or friends
designated as check-in home bases, by whatever means
necessary. Make sure that everyone knows to call,
email or snail-mail these places as soon as possible,
should they be separated in an emergency. Of course,
you should offer to provide the same service in return.
Note: sometimes SMS/text messaging will work even
if the cell phone services are spotty and unreliable.
Use this feature whenever you can't make a good connection
otherwise. Send as short a message as possible to
ensure delivery, even just your name and "okay" to
let everyone know that you are safe.
- For localized emergencies (fire, tornado, etc) have
a designated meeting spot near enough to reach, but
far enough away for safety. Everyone should know to
meet there for a check-in as soon as they safely can.
Ideas include a local store or church, the corner
mailbox, the neighbor's yard, a nearby park or school,
etc. You should set up more than one, to allow for
varying degrees of disruption. For example: in case
of house fire, everyone meets at the lamppost on the
corner. But in case of wider-spread destruction, go
to the church at the top of the hill. For truly large-scale
events, such as hurricanes and massive earthquakes,
evacuation orders will likely supersede these options,
but if possible try to regroup first then evacuate.
- Set up a "bug-out" bag (see
article here) and make sure
that everyone knows where it is
and that it is to be a part of any
evacuation except a house fire –
everyone should know never go after
any material items in the event
of a fire. Also make sure that everyone
knows where emergency gear such
as fire extinguishers, first aid
kits, evacuation maps, emergency
numbers and so forth are kept.
- If you have a bank account set up for emergency
situations, make sure that all responsible adults
have access to it and know how to get to it. Also
make sure that anyone who does have access is a responsible
adult. You don't want to be out on the street after
a disaster only to find your emergency account empty
because "someone" needed shopping money (or worse)
- Designate someone in your family to be the "tribal
leader" in the case of an emergency. Normally, this
will be a parent or guardian, but in some cases it
may be an adult child or other relative. Choose someone
who has shown that they can operate with a clear head
in emergencies, who reliably makes smart choices out
of bad options and who has demonstrated an ability
to lead without abusing power. Work out an order of
second and third choices, in case the originally chosen
leader is incapacitated. In an emergency, it is vital
that valuable time not be spent debating various alternatives.
Unless someone clearly sees a better option that the
leader is not aware of, everyone should know beforehand
that, no matter what normal give and take the family
may be used to, in an emergency situation they are
to do exactly what the leader says without argument
Facing the prospect of partial or even complete destruction
of everything you know and love is a fearful thing,
and many people would rather avoid thinking about it
as much as possible. But knowing that your loved ones
are prepared to make it through such an event, and that
they know how to take advantage of this preparedness,
goes a long way toward making the crisis bearable.
About the author
Soni Pitts is a professional freelance writer who provides
copywriting, editing and related services in addition
to her regular freelance work. She also covers the Networking
beat as an associate writer for Wordbrains.
Need copy? Email Soni at email@example.com
for more information.
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