When it comes to large-scale natural disasters, American’s have enjoyed a couple of relatively quiet years. The last big hurricane to strike was Sandy in November of 2012, and after the devastating tornado outbreaks of 2010 and 2011, the past two years have been eerily quiet on that front as well.
We did see a modest M6.0 Quake Rattle the Region North Of San Francisco last August, a much stronger M7.9 strike an isolated region of Alaska, and literally hundreds of smaller quakes (including many in the middle of the country), but seismically America’s luck continues to hold.
In 2014, the United States only saw 45 Federally declared disasters – which ranged from floods to blizzards to even a volcanic eruption in Hawaii – and while impacting millions of people, was overall far fewer disasters than average.
Globally things have been much tougher, with large and deadly typhoons in the Pacific, floods in Asia, heat waves in Australia, earthquakes in China, avalanches in Nepal, epidemics (including Ebola), and a number of civil wars taking a horrendous toll.
While we can’t know what kind of disasters await in 2015, our planet can be a violent and unforgiving one. This year, as happens every year, millions of people will find themselves suddenly thrust into the midst of some type of crisis or disaster – a storm, an earthquake, or a prolonged power outage - and those who are best prepared the ones who are most likely to emerge unscathed.
There are many legitimate disaster threats out there – and many can strike without warning - which is why FEMA, READY.GOV, and many other agencies constantly promote personal, family, and business preparedness.
As a former paramedic, I can’t stress enough the importance of having a good first aid kit at home, and another one in your car. And just as importantly, learning how to properly use one. Taking a first-aid course, and CPR training, are both investments that could pay off big someday, for you, and for your loved ones.
Basic kit : NWS radio, First Aid Kit, Lanterns, Water & Food & cash
And every home should have no less than a 72-hour supply of emergency food and water, for all of its occupants (including pets!). This is a bare minimum, here in the United States many agencies and organizations recommend that households work towards having a 10-day supply of food, water, and emergency supplies on hand.
In When 72 Hours Isn’t Enough, I highlighted a colorful, easy-to-follow, 100 page `survival guide’ released by Los Angeles County, that covers everything from earthquake and tsunami preparedness, to getting ready for a pandemic.
While admittedly California-threat specific, this useful guide may be downloaded here (6.5 Mbyte PDF).
And speaking of California threats, if you live in any seismically active region (and that includes most of the nation) you need to visit Shakeout.org to learn how you, your family and your co-workers can take part in this year’s important earthquake drills.
Although I’ve covered a great many specifics for becoming better prepared (see NPM14: Infrastructure Failure Preparedness & NPM14: When You’ve Got To `Get Out Of Dodge’ In A Hurry), there is one prep I consider to be the most important of all.
Having – and being – a `disaster buddy’.
In NPM14: In an Emergency, Who Are You Going To Call?, I wrote about that - 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.
Much in the way that community fire departments, EMS, and law enforcement agencies have a `mutual aid’ agreement with nearby communities, you should foster the same kind of arrangement with your friends, family, and neighbors.
In the parlance of paramedics, cops, firefighters and the military . . . “you have their back, and in return, they have yours.” 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.
While we all make New Year’s resolutions, and most of them are quickly dropped and forgotten, making this year the year you and your family get better prepared to deal with emergencies is a resolution worth keeping.
For more potentially life saving preparedness information, I invite you to visit:
AMERICAN RED CROSS http://www.redcross.org/