03 March 2010

Be Prepared, Safe, Comfortable and Make the Best of It

Here are some good tips to help you creatively pursue a greater level of preparedness in all areas of life.

Keep your gas tank full. You do not want to run out of gas during an emergency or not have enough gas to get to safety. There will be a rush on gas stations in an emergency and gas will run out quickly if tanks cannot be refilled. If you tank is full you can ration it out as needed.

Keep a pair of comfortable shoes and socks under your bed. Keep a flashlight in your nightstand. If the electricity is out in a crisis, you do not want to injure yourself walking around barefoot or in the dark. In the Northridge CA earthquake in 1994 one of the most common injuries was cut feet from stepping on glass and other broken items on the floor.

Keep an emergency kit including comfortable shoes, flashlight, water and food in your desk at work. If there is a crisis at your office, there will be very little food available. You may not be able to leave the building. If you park in a parking garage you may not have access to your car if you are able to leave and may have to walk to safety. If electricity is out is can be very dark in office buildings or on the street after dark. If you park in a building with valet parking, do not leave your house keys with the valet. Use a spare car key. That way if you can’t get to the garage or to your keys you will at least have your house keys with you when you are able to return home.

Pay attention during fire drills, know your way out. Know where the closest first aid kit is, they are often maintained in the lunchroom area. Know the number to building security, they are your first line of defense and in large capacity buildings they receive broad training and must maintain emergency plans. 

Keep an emergency kit in your car: including food, clothing, water, tools, a small shovel, easy fix flat tire in can, blanket, disposable camera if you don't have one on your phone (in case you get in an accident or need to quickly record information), entertainment (book, magazine, kid’s toy, etc.) and other items you may need if you are forced to spend the night in your car. In a bad storm or if there is a road closure you may spend a cold night in the car in the middle of nowhere. Being prepared will make this a much easier experience.

Keep a wide range of over-the-counter medicines and first aid products in emergency kits.  If you are in a disaster you may face health and injury concerns.  In a crisis environment there is the possibility to get scraped, cut and bruised. You may do much more physical work than usual and may want a good muscle cream and sunscreen.  You may get scraped up, bitten by bugs, heat rashes, infected cuts, or even just get badly dry skin. You can get ointments & creams for these ailments at 99 cent stores, which makes it easy to gather a variety of treatment options to have on hand.

Think about emergency sources of transportation. If you are unable to use your car and there is no electricity or fuel available your best transportation source will be YOU. You can walk, run, skate, board or cycle if you invest in keeping yourself healthy and active. Keep a few extra repair parts for your sports gear in your home so if you must use them frequently you will be able to do simple repairs. You can learn to do your own repairs at your local sports shops, from books or online. REI often teaches classes on simple bike repair.

Pack a bit of fun for emergencies. Even in the worst of times, you can still have bright moments. Entertainment, laughter and distractions can be your best ally in bad times. In emergency kits pack simple card games, paper, crayons or pens, small toy surprises like small plastic animals for kids, joke books, crossword puzzles, word searches, Mad Libs, a couple of novels, a ball, anything that would be fun and divert minds from the stresses at hand.

If you are in a shelter or brought together with other people these activities will also be a great icebreaker and way to build relationships.  And if you have enough to share you might just make the day of a harried mother or bored and lonely senior citizen. Have some fun snacks to share and you’ll certainly be popular. Easily packable treats like hard candies, bite-size licorice, lollipops, a little chocolate with be especially delightful on a hard day.

Create a meeting place plan with your family. Choose one place you will all meet if there is an emergency then pick two backup locations in case those areas are off limits or damages. You may also choose one relative that does not live in your immediate area and may be away from danger and available to help coordinate regrouping your family. Each member if unable to find each other may contact this person for more information.

Give some key people in your life basic information that will help locate you and family members in a crisis. You should make sure that a trusted friend or family members outside of your immediate family have contact information and addresses for your family, including schools, church, office, parks and anywhere that you regularly spend blocks of time and contact information to friends in your local area who may be able to help them. That way if they must search for you or members or your family they will have some starting point.

Don't use the phone, TEXT instead. Phone lines are the first thing to get overwhelmed in a large-scale crisis. We are asked to stay off phones so that emergency services and those really in need will have access to reach out for help. Often when phone lines are not available, text messages can still be sent and received. They do not overburden phone lines and are a much better way to communicate in an emergency.

Finding ways to increase your preparedness will help you live more peacefully now and in any crisis that might come your way.

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