I began promoting the idea of `Flu Buddies’ in 2007, but only really fleshed out the idea in a 2008 blog called Lifelines In A Pandemic, where I wrote:
Each of us need, in advance, to make `Flu Buddies'. And not just people who live alone, although they are at the greatest risk.After the pandemic receded in 2010 I reworked the idea into a more generic `Disaster Buddy’ concept in a blog called In An Emergency, Who Has Your Back?.
An arrangement with one or more people (or families) that you will come to their aid during a crisis, and that they will come to yours if needed. For most, these `buddies' will probably be family members, good friends, or neighbors.
People we care about.
If someone on your `buddy list' gets sick, they will have buddies to help them through it. Someone to fetch medicine, bring food and water, and even get them to a doctor if necessary.
Last year, as a very powerful hurricane Irma approached, I reached out to one of my disaster buddies - who lived in a much safer location - as a place for me and my cat to evacuate to. As it turned out, I was able to help ready her place for Irma, as well as seeking shelter from the storm (see A Post Irma Update).
It ended up being a win-win for both of us, although I certainly got the better of the deal.But it doesn’t require a pandemic, earthquake, or hurricane to find yourself in need a of a helping hand. A house fire, car accident, sudden illness, or some other limited emergency can overwhelm as well, and having a prearranged support system in place can be a lifesaver.
Frankly, having (and being) a `Disaster Buddy’ to friends, neighbors, and relatives should be part of everyone’s family disaster plan.The `buddy' who graciously opened her home to me last year to ride out Irma is this week faced with moving to a new house - and while not as dramatic as an approaching hurricane - moving is often listed among the top five most stressful life events (usually after death of a loved one, divorce, and a serious illness).
Doing it alone . . . well, that's even worse.As her `disaster buddy', this is my opportunity to reciprocate, and so I'll be away from my desk for the next 3 or 4 days and probably on limited `blogging' duty for a few days after that. This is going to be a big move.
One of the ironies of our increasingly connected world is that our closest friends no longer need to live anywhere near us. Facebook, Twitter, email, and texting have allowed us to interact daily at a distance as never before. And during a disaster, that can be both a problem and a blessing.
While some people invest in a two year stockpile of freeze dried food, or buy the latest survival gadgets, and think themselves prepared . . . I believe having one or more disaster buddies that you can truly depend on in an emergency is the greatest prep of all.
- 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.
So if you don't have one, get one (and be one). And the bigger the support group you can cultivate, the better you will sleep at night.
Note: In my absence you can keep up with infectious disease news, including the new Ebola outbreak in the DRC, by visiting FluTrackers, CIDRAP News, and Crofs Blog. Those will be the three I'll be checking as well.