Sunday, September 16, 2012

NPM12: Disaster Buddies

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Note: This is day 16 of National Preparedness Month.  Follow this year’s campaign on Twitter by searching for the #NPM and #NPM12 hash tags.

 

This month, as part of NPM12, I’ll be rerunning some edited and updated older preparedness essays, along with some new ones.

 

# 6557

 

 

One of the ironies of our increasingly connected world is that our closest friends need not live anywhere near us.  Facebook, Twitter, email, and texting have allowed us to interact at a distance as never before.

 

And during a disaster, that can be both a problem, and a blessing.


The blessing is that since many disasters are local, if you are hit by a tornado, or an earthquake, or a flood . . . having friends outside the impact area could be a lifesaver.

 

The downside, of course, is that increasing distance makes getting direct assistance from a friend during an emergency more difficult.

 

In 2007 I began to promote the idea of each of us having, and being, `Flu Buddies’.  I fleshed out the idea in a 2008 blog called Lifelines In A Pandemic.  

 

A `Flu Buddy’ is simply someone you can call if you get sick, who will then check on you every day, make sure you have the medicines you need (including fetching Tamiflu if appropriate), help care for you if needed, and who can call for medical help if your condition deteriorates.

 

Those people who care for others, like single parents, also need to consider who will take care of their dependents if they are sick.

 

Nearly 1 person in 10 in the United States lives alone.   That’s roughly 27 million people who are particularly vulnerable during an epidemic.

 

I returned to this theme often during the 2009 pandemic, including Pandemic Solutions: Flu BuddiesUK: Call To Appoint Swine `Flu Friends’ and Canada Urges People To Find `Flu Buddies’.

 

After the pandemic receded I reworked the idea into a more generic `Disaster Buddy’ concept in a blog called  In An Emergency, Who Has Your Back?.

 

While we tend to think of disasters as large scale events, it doesn’t require a pandemic, earthquake, or hurricane to put you in perilous straits.

 

A house fire, car accident, sudden illness, or some other more limited emergency can overwhelm as well, and having a pre-existing support system makes a lot of sense.

 

And the best way I know is by arranging to have (and to be) a `Disaster Buddy’.

 

A `Disaster Buddy’ is simply someone you have prearranged that you can call on during a crisis, and who in turn, can call on you if they need help.

 

It only works if it is reciprocal.

 

 

Frankly, having (and being) a `Disaster Buddy’ to friends, neighbors, and relatives should be part of everyone’s family disaster plan. 

 

No one likes to impose on a friend, of course.

 

But if you’ve already established a `disaster buddy’ relationship  – one that is fair and reciprocal – it shouldn’t be considered an imposition.

 

In the parlance of paramedics, cops, firefighters and the military . . .  you have their back, and in return, they have yours.”

 

It is a simple concept, but one that needs to be talked out in advance, not simply assumed.

 

While some people invest in a stockpile of freeze dried food, or buy the latest survival  gadgets, and think themselves prepared   . . .  having friends you can really depend on in an emergency is the greatest prep of all.

 

It is also worth mentioning that there has never been a better time to volunteer to help with the American Red Cross, The Medical Reserve Corps, CERT, or your Neighborhood watch.

 

We are truly only prepared as our friends, families, and surrounding community are.  There are roles to play for everyone, including civic organizations, schools, and church. 

 

Now - before a disaster occurs - is the time to sit down and talk to your friends, family, and neighbors about how you will help one another during a personal or community wide crisis.

 

For more potentially life saving preparedness information, I invite you to visit:

 

FEMA http://www.fema.gov/index.shtm

READY.GOV http://www.ready.gov/

AMERICAN RED CROSS http://www.redcross.org/

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