Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Just In Time For National Preparedness Month



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Although hurricane Danny dissipated yesterday before impacting the Leeward Islands, further out to sea Tropical Storm Erika has formed, and is forecast to threaten the Bahamas -  possibly  as a hurricane - by this  weekend.  


Computer models grow less reliable beyond 5 days, and while some currently suggest a northward turn,  Florida could be in the crosshairs early next week.



You can keep track of Erika’s progress by visiting the National Hurricane Center website. These are the real experts, and the only ones you should rely on to track and forecast the storm.


And if you are on Twitter, you should also follow @FEMA, @CraigatFEMA, @NHC_Atlantic, @NHC_Pacific and @ReadyGov.

Whether Erika steams far enough west to impact Florida, or curves back to sea, is too soon to tell.   But this storm does remind us that for the next couple of months we are in the height of hurricane season, and everyone who lives along the Gulf or Altantic coasts – and well inland – needs to be aware and prepared.

But even if you don’t live in a hurricane zone, the odds are you are in a seismically active area, or are subject to blizzards, tornadoes, floods or some other natural calamity.   Preparedness is for everyone.


A week from today we begin to observe National Preparedness Month, where every year FEMA, Ready.gov, and thousands of coalition members (like AFD) promote emergency preparedness for individuals, families, businesses, and communities.    


While the event doesn’t kick off until next Tuesday, with a potential tropical system knocking on our door, the advice `Don’t Wait.  Communicate’  takes added meaning. Preparedness is a year-round endeavor, and disasters don’t read calendars.



While I promote preparedness year-round, twice each year this blog makes a concerted `preparedness push’; first in late May to kick off Hurricane season, and again in September for National Preparedness Month.


The goal of NPM2015 is to foster a culture of national preparedness, and to encourage everyone to plan and be prepared to deal with an event where they can go at least three days without electricity, running water, local services, or access to a supermarket.


These are, of course, minimum goals.


The disruptions following hurricanes, tornado outbreaks, floods, and other natural disasters often run for days or even weeks, and so – if you are able to do so - being prepared for 10 days to 2 weeks makes a good deal of sense (see When 72 Hours Isn’t Enough).


As a Floridian, my preparedness plans are somewhat hurricane-centric, as these massive storms provide the most likely disaster scenario for my area.  But my disaster plans are appropriate for other disaster scenarios as well.


In addition to being prepared to shelter-in-place for up to two weeks, I have a network of trusted disaster buddies to whom I can turn in an emergency (as can they to me), several pre-arranged evacuation destinations should I need to `get out of Dodge’, and a 72-hour bug-out bag I can grab at a moment’s notice.

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My Bug-out-bag, Canteen, & Toiletry kit


I also keep an overnight bag, and a fully equipped first aid kit, in the trunk of my car . . .  just in case (see Inside My Auto First Aid Kit).


My investment in preparedness is relatively small – only a few hundred dollars – which I consider cheap insurance. But if a hurricane, a pandemic, or some other disaster strikes, I’ll be in a much better position to cope.


As I tell people, preparing is easy.  It’s worrying that’s hard.

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