Friday, September 08, 2017

#NatlPrep: Disaster Buddies - The Most Important Prep Of All




















Note: This is day 8 of National Preparedness Month . Follow this year’s campaign on Twitter by searching for the #NatlPrep hash tag.
 
This month, as part of NPM17, I’ll be rerunning some edited and updated older preparedness essays, along with some new ones. 

#12,752


Although her final path isn't set in stone, it increasingly looks as if Irma's core will pass uncomfortably close to my area on Sunday. As I live in an older manufactured home surrounded by huge creaky oak trees, my plan is to bug out to a friend's house sometime tomorrow.  
As I've mentioned before, while having flashlights, and water, and emergency supplies are essential preps - nothing beats having a `disaster buddy' or three - a network of people you can count on in an emergency. 
A `Disaster Buddy’ is simply someone you that you can call on during a crisis, and who in turn, can call on you if they need help. 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 ironed out in advance, not simply assumed.
 
One of the ironies of our increasingly connected world is that our closest friends need not live anywhere close by. 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. 
I'm lucky enough to have several disaster buddies, scattered across the state.  All of them are in Irma's path, but at least two offer safer places to ride out the storm than my own home. While it is hard to leave my home, my possessions, and the bulk of my preps behind - with a little bit of luck they will still be there on Tuesday. 
I won't be showing up at my buddy's place empty handed, of course.   I'll have my first aid kit, a crank NWS radio, extra food, batteries, lanterns, water filter, and those extra preps I can fit into the trunk of my car. 
I've also been handing out some `spares' to my neighbors before I leave. 
My buddy and I realize this could be a prolonged stay, depending on what Irma does.  The power and water could be out for days, maybe longer.  While I'm reasonably hopeful that I live far enough up the state to still have a home to return to next week, the same can't be assumed for millions who live in southern Florida where Irma is expected to make its greatest impact.   
That's the grim reality of a Category 4 hurricane knocking on our door. 
The other reality - learned the hard way this week by millions of Floridians - is that once the alarm has sounded, it is too late for everyone to go to the store to stock up. By  early Tuesday, there wasn't a flashlight, battery, or case of water to be had in the small central Florida town I live in. 
The push for preparing before hurricane season begins (see Hurricane Preparedness Week 2017 (May 7th - May 13th), as is urged every year, is to avoid this very scenario.
If you live in Irma's path, your options for preparing right now are fairly limited.  But practically anyplace else in the world, you still have the incredible opportunity to prepare now for the next disaster. Don't think, it can't happen here.  It can.
Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, industrial accidents, solar storms,  terrorist attacks . . . .  even a pandemic can come at any time.   Being prepared doesn't guarantee you a good outcome, but it does increase your odds.
So - before the next disaster hits -  you need to ask yourself: If the power goes out, stores close  their doors, and water stopped flowing from your kitchen tap for the next 7 to 14  days . . . do you have:
  • An emergency plan, including meeting places, emergency out-of-state contact numbers, and in case you must evacuate, a bug-out bag?
  • A battery operated NWS Emergency Radio to find out what was going on, and to get vital instructions from emergency officials?
  • A decent first-aid kit, so that you can treat injuries?
  • Enough non-perishable food and water on hand to feed and hydrate your family (including pets) for the duration?
  • A way to provide light (and in cold climates, heat) for your family without electricity? And a way to cook? And to do this safely?
  • A small supply of cash to use in case credit/debit machines are not working?
  • Spare supply of essential prescription medicines that you or your family may need?
  • A network of `disaster buddies ’ among your friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors.  
If your answer is `no’, you have some work to do. A good place to get started is by visiting Ready.gov.  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/

And you can search for other AFD posts on preparedness using this search link.
Note: There's a good chance my power and internet will be interrupted this weekend, perhaps for days. I'll try to update this blog when I can, but that may not be possible for a few days.
As always, I recommend you keep tabs on infectious disease news from:
FluTrackers

CIDRAP

Crofsblog

Ian Mckay's Virology Down Under Blog


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, Mike. You have done so much good over the years bringing visibility to preparedness topics. Thank you for this sobering post, which reaffirms so many great points you've made over the years. Know that you are in our thoughts!!!! Praying for the safety of you and all your loved ones and friends.
Lisa Schnirring
CIDRAP News