September is National Preparedness Month, and as I do every year, I’ll be devoting a good deal of time in this blog to the idea of individual, business, and community preparedness. Over the next 30 days I’ll be posting a variety of new, and updated, preparedness articles along with my usual litany of EID information.
I come by my penchant for preparedness honestly, having been born and raised in Florida, and having my first brush with disaster at the age of 6 when a truly impressive Hurricane Donna came to town in 1960. Two years later Florida was practically on a war footing, with schools practicing `duck and cover’ drills and handing out civil defense pamphlets on radiation sickness and building fallout shelters, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Add in the fact that for a lot of that time my family and I lived aboard an ageing 63 foot boat (see below), and well . . . preparedness was something we thought about, and practiced, a lot.
Over the years there would be other hurricanes (Betsy in 65, Agnes in 72, Elena in 85), I’d become a boy scout, then after high school I became an EMT (later a paramedic) and worked in both Florida and Arizona. Eventually I’d end up spending more than a decade living aboard a couple of sailboats, and I’d even end up spending another 10 years `going back to the land’, in the backwoods of Missouri.
For me, being prepared has just been part of life. And it has come in handy more than once.
The popularity of Doomsday Preppers on the National Geographic Channel has a lot of people believing that preparedness is all about getting ready for the perpetually impending apocalyptic collapse of society. But for the vast majority of us who embrace the preparedness lifestyle - it is the far more common localized disaster that spurs us on:
. .. hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, blizzards, earthquakes, floods (and yes, even a pandemic) . . . along with even more limited emergencies like power outages, house fires, car accidents, or personal accident and injury.
While we can’t pick and choose what emergencies will befall us – we can elect whether or not to be prepared to deal with them – which is why federal agencies like FEMA and READY.GOV work year-round to encourage Americans to think about their risks, and to prepare for them.
Things like 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.
Having enough stored water for at least 3 days (1 gal/day per person + pets), a reasonable supply of non-perishable food, a NWS Emergency weather radio, a little cash in case the ATMs and Credit Card readers are down, and a safe form of emergency lighting (not candles) are all things every household should have on hand.
And for my money, perhaps most importantly, having – and being – a `disaster buddy’.
In NPM14: In an Emergency, Who Are You Going To Call?, I wrote 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. And the more `disaster buddies’ you have in your personal network, the more options you will have in an emergency.
I hope you’ll take some time during the coming weeks to think about how to make your family, business, or community better prepared to deal with the next disaster, and then act on it. And that you’ll encourage others to do the same.
For more on how to prepare, visit these websites:
AMERICAN RED CROSS http://www.redcross.org/
And if you are on twitter, follow #NatlPrep for more on National Preparedness Month activities.