I’ve been dealing with some “hardcore” topics lately (and more to come) but I thought it might be time to go back and touch on the basics once again. And I mean the very basics of emergency preparedness. For those that are new to “prepping” this is a great place to start your learning curve. For those that are a little more advanced it is a good review of where you’re at in your preps. Also, this would be a great article to send others to that are just getting into preparedness.
There are three basic steps for any emergency:
These steps may sound simple but they all need attention for a successful outcome. Completing each step doesn’t have to be difficult, confusing, expensive or time consuming. However, completing these steps can protect your family. IN this article I will only go into the “Prepare” aspect. In later articles I will touch on the “Response” and “Recover” phases.
Setting Priorities –
There is a priority order for any emergency or disaster situation. Knowing how to set priorities can help you through your planning process and allow you to make decisions more easily. The priorities are:
1. Life Safety – Human life is more important that any possession.
2. Incident Stabilization – Don’t make the situation worse than it already is.
3. Property Conservation – Don’t destroy or use anything you don’t have to; conserve resources.
4. Societal Restoration – We need to get our families and community back to their normal as soon as possible.
Collectively these items are common sense and assist a person or group in making decisions. For instance, you should not risk your life (or that of your child) to save your favorite recipe book or an expensive tool from the garage. You shouldn’t drive 90mph escaping a wildfire on a road that is normally posted for 35mph. And finally, get your family back to normal as quickly as possible. You may not be able to return to your home immediately after a flood; but you can read them a book just before bed or hold family prayers as you did prior to the emergency.
During WWII General Eisenhower (later to become President) stated “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” Meaning that the process of planning educates you to what you must do when a situation occurs. There is also a saying that collaborates that “No plan survives the first contact.” Which roughly interpreted means that your plan will not be perfect and may not cover exactly what you will have to deal with but the fact that you planned will get you through it.
There are two general aspects of Planning:
1. Education – Learn what disaster or emergency is likely to occur in your area.
2. Action – Create a plan and take steps to prepare for the disaster or emergency.
You must gain some amount of knowledge concerning the disaster that you are planning for. Using printed material or the Internet will assist in this step. Here are some common aspects to any disaster or emergency situation:
- They generally occur with little or no advanced warning.
- The information concerning the event will be limited or confusing.
- Accept that “things” such as utilities, roads, TVs, radios, etc. will probably not work as expected.
- Everything will take more time that it normally does, and you must account for that.
- Few people will know what is going on well enough to give you more accurate or timelier information than you already have.
- Fuel (home or vehicle) may be in short supply, or non-existent, very quickly. There is the likelihood that local gas stations will have very long lines or lack the ability to pump fuel from the tanks into vehicles. They may not be able to process credit/debit cards. Cash may be King!
- Hospitals and medical centers may get overloaded very quickly or be damaged beyond use.
- The 911 system my get overloaded or quit working altogether.
- There may be a shortage of emergency responders available to assist you.
- You have to know when to leave, or if you will stay in place and weather out the storm.
- Failure to make a decision or failure to act are the worst possible things you can do.
- Communications will fail; whatever system you are planning for, it will fail at some point. The only mitigation to this item is “depth”. Have multiple systems to communicate (i.e. cell phones, land lines, Ham radios, message runners, note paper and pen, etc.).
Think through what disaster or emergency situation is likely to occur in your community. There are many sources of information for you. Try your local city or county emergency manager, local Red Cross Chapter, and other disaster and emergency responder organizations. Then do some research on what other communities, families and individuals are doing about those potential emergencies. You may wish to ask your local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ Stake or Ward Emergency Preparedness Specialist for any pertinent material they may have. (Look-up “LDS Missionaries” and they can give you the contact information.)
Once you have gained the knowledge concerning the disaster(s) you are feel could occur in your area, you must take positive actions to properly plan for it. For every situation that you are planning for you must consider what the probability of the occurrence and what is the potential severity of damage. Once you have developed that list you can then plan to reduce the likelihood (tough to do) or how to reduce the severity should the event occur (i.e. turn on the sprinklers before the wildfire arrives).
There are general steps that can be taken that apply to all planning. There is an almost endless list of preparations that you can make; some quite time consuming and others can be very costly. However, there are a number of steps you can take that apply to virtually every potential disaster or emergency situation.
- Family or group members should have a first aid kit that matches their skill level(s).
- Family or group members should have a 72/96-hour kit and keep it updated.
- Families should have copies of all important documents in an easily transportable weather resistant container. Alternatively, scan all documents and save them on a “thumb-drive” stored in a waterproof match container. Make sure to include all applicable medical history and medication information.
- Families should have a portable radio that is powered by solar energy and backed-up by rechargeable batteries. Keep a spare set of charged batteries with it.
- Families should keep any medications in a central place for easy retrieval if you must leave your home.
- Families should have a family plan in place for how to get back together if separated, how to communicate and a back-up plan in case cell phones don’t work.
- Family or group members should plan at least two routes out of any given area in which you live or work. They need to be in opposite directions and they must be realistic and timely.
I hope this has stirred an idea or two; maybe even motivated you to begin if you have not already done so. In two more articles I will cover the basics of response and recover.
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