Although still more than six weeks away, September is National Preparedness Month.
And you, or your business, can help.
For those of you on Twitter, look for the hash tag #NPM10 for tweets relating to National Preparedness Month.
Since the primary focus of this blog is preparedness, this is a good time to remind my readers about the importance of having – and knowing how to use – a good first aid kit.
We are talking about being able to deal with more than just an errant splinter or a paper cut.
One of my pet peeves is that for some reason we seem intent on denying our children really useful information while they attend school.
Why a good first aid (or even EMT) & CPR course isn’t a requirement before graduating high school is a mystery to me.
* * * *
When I was 17, and still in High School, I took a 3-night American Red Cross first aid course. At the time, I had no idea that a year later I'd be working on an ambulance.
It just seemed like a good idea.
Since I was approaching my 18th birthday, and would soon be out on my own, it seemed like the responsible thing to do. No one told me I should, my parents certainly didn't suggest it.
I just decided that there was useful knowledge there that I should know.
So I went.
I spent 3 nights listening to the local fire chief teach us about first aid. I watched the films (mostly civil defense films from the 1950's, btw), practiced bandaging the guy next to me, and I made my own first aid kit.
Since that day, I've never been without a serious first aid kit. In my car, and in my home.
Little did I know how soon I would end up using it.
* * * *
Two weeks after I graduated from High School, during the summer of 1972, Hurricane Agnes clipped the west coast of Florida. It wasn't much as hurricanes go, but it sent tropical storm force winds, torrential rain, and some small tornadoes through our area.
Hurricane Agnes approaching Florida
My twin brother and I both ended up as part of the rescue effort that night, pulling the trapped and injured from collapsed trailers, and setting up an ad hoc emergency first aid center first in an old post office, and then later at the local police station.
We used the supplies from the first-aid kits we kept in the trunks of our cars to care for the injured.
For several hours, we were the only aid available to more than a half-dozen injured people. For a kid fresh out of high school, it was a long night.
It also spurred me on to a career in emergency medicine. First as an EMT, then as a Paramedic EMT-II.
* * * *
The point is, emergencies – large and small - happen all the time.
I can't think of a day in the past 38 years when I haven't had at least one first aid kit constantly within reach. I keep a nice one in my car, and another, even better equipped one in my home.
If I take a trip in someone else's car, I transfer my auto kit to their trunk.
A couple of shots of my primary first aid kit. Notice the masks and goggles, along with two flashlights (one hands free).
Yours needn’t be this elaborate, but it needs to be more than a box of band-aids and a pair of tweezers.
Yes, I suppose it's a bit obsessive, but over the years it has come in very handy –and on more than one occasion - a half dozen car wrecks, several cardiac arrests, and assorted minor injuries.
Every home, and every vehicle, should have a proper first aid kit. Not one of those dime store Band-Aid boxes that they sell for too much money, but a real first aid kit.
And everyone should know how to use one. If you haven't taken a first aid course, now is the time to do so. Check with your local Red Cross or Fire Department to find out where they are being given in your community.
In addition to a first aid kit, every home should have lanterns, flashlights, or other light sources. Candles are NOT recommended, as every year they are responsible for house fires.
Pictured below is an inexpensive LED lantern. It will burn on 4 AA batteries for about 40 hours. It is bright, gives off no heat, and poses no fire danger.
I bought a dozen of them.
And of course you need a battery operated radio, one which receives the weather bands, and preferably has a NOAA Alert.
There's more, of course. But these few steps are a good beginning.
To them you should add an emergency pantry with at least 2-weeks worth of food and water, some safe method of emergency cooking, and depending on the climate where you live, an emergency heat source.
I’ve also got my 72 hr `bug out bag’ already packed. For a complete description, follow the link to Inside My Bug Out Bag, but here are a few pictures of what I keep at the ready 24/7 should I need to evacuate my home on short notice.
For first aid and CPR training, contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross, or local fire department or EMS.
They should be able to direct you to a class.
It doesn't take a pandemic, hurricane, or an earthquake to ruin your whole day. Disasters happen here in the US dozens of times each year. Around the world, that number climbs into the hundreds.
Add in minor (and not so minor) emergencies, and that number climbs to the millions.
It pays to be prepared.