01 March 2010

Are We Ready? Taking the First Steps

I had Emergency Preparedness Week planned last Friday morning, long before we saw Saturday, a day of natural disaster and repercussions that had the entire Pacific Rim on alert. Chile is in our thoughts and prayers and we are grateful that Tsunami warnings and alerts were purely precautionary in the end.

I have been thinking a great deal about emergency preparedness. But first I say BE GENEROUS in your giving to those suffering from these disasters. Be wise about who you give your money to. My recommendations are to give to your church. The major US churches have a very well organized system set up and they work with each other to act very quickly to meet the needs of people across the globe, regardless of religious affiliation. Whomever you give the money to, do your research first and make sure that the money is going where it should be and will be useful.

Now, what will we do when it is our turn to face disaster? Are we ready? Have we thought through all the precautions we should take? Are we prepared to take care of ourselves when it hits? Will you support the survival of yourself and others or will you be a drain on the system? If you are one who anticipates that the government or your church has enough to take care of you, think again and remember recent history.

Do not depend on others to do the work of taking care of you. NO ONE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU BUT YOU. Do not anticipate that help will come quickly, be well organized or able to provide for all your basic necessities. If you organized and prepared it will allow you, barring physical injury, to get on your feet very quickly and then be able to start helping other people. It's very inspiring to plan to be of help, rather than in need.

It's anticipated that it generally takes at least 3 days for aid organizations to be able to organize and disperse during a disaster. So if you want to start getting prepared, the best thing you can do is buy or better yet make a 72-hour kit. This kit includes basic needs including food, water and anything you will need to sustain yourself and your family for the first 3 days after an emergency. Thanks to the graciousness of family I have three such kits. 

One is sealed in a 1-gallon kit, it has only the most basic necessities. I have a book bag-size backpack that includes food, water, paper and pen, flashlight, space blanket, basic first aid guide, and toiletries. Lastly I have a duffle bag 72-hour kit --thanks Mom! --that includes all the basic food, first aid and camping necessities, as well as room for clothing and some other survival gear. Each one has it's best case scenario use. They are all in the closet closest to my front door and on road trips one comes with me in the car. 

There are many great web sites and blog posts on 72-hour kits. Here are a few good resources:

Be prepared. It could mean the difference between calm survival and heartbreaking disaster. Pick up a few items each week at the grocery or hardware store. Personalize kits for each member of your family. Each person will have their own unique needs: feminine products, diapers, formula, medications, etc. Think about all the items you might need in a first aid kit.

Add some special things to your kits that will be a joy and good entertainment --A favorite book, candy, cards and games, coloring books and crayons, a journal and several pens, a book of word search or crossword puzzles. You may be sitting in a shelter for several days or quarantined and you'll appreciate activities to make the time pass more peacefully. Do what you need to do now, so that you can thrive in a disaster with a sense of calm, knowing that you are ready.

You don't want to be out trying to scavenge for personal care products or food right before or right after a crisis. This is always a time of panic, hysteria and often violence and looting. If you are prepared, you will be able to find a safe shelter and avoid the danger of being out on the streets unnecessarily. You can also barter with others with items you may have plenty of for things you may need. Be prepared to share. 

Preparedness bring a peaceful heart and a calm, logical mind. You will be grateful for your advance preparation, whatever the danger.

photo 1 via
photo 2 & 3 via

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