As our neighbors in South Carolina continue to recover from a natural disaster that rivals anything in recent memory, I am drawn to the ever-present safety and security aspects of such an event.
We have all heard the saying that prior planning prevents poor performance (or something like that). It could not be more true in this instance. This has everything to do with prior planning. As for individual preparedness, you have to begin preparing long before an incident ever occurs. By the time warning notices are being sent out by local emergency notification networks, it is too late to do everything you should have already accomplished to be at your best for the upcoming event.
A Little Research Never Hurts
There is a reason that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has invested so much in public education on disaster preparedness. Because it works. But many of us have the attitude that, "Hey, it will never happen to us, and if it does, there will be plenty of time to get ready." To make that thought invalid, just ask the hundreds of victims who have been put in the path of disaster either past or present. They will all tell you, things happen very fast. The website FEMA.gov should be your first stop in your journey of preparedness. Assess your risks. Determine if you in a zone that is prone to tornadoes, floods, fires, earthquakes or land slides. And even if you are not, general preparedness is still a responsible route to take, because you never know what will happen. Maybe your next disaster will be man-made and not a result of natural causes. Being prepared quickly becomes a responsibility, especially if you have others who depend on you.
Have a Plan of Action
Your best intentions become feeble thoughts if you do not put action behind them. Once you have established a plan of action for your particular situation and environment, then practice it to make sure it will work. If you have followed the standard rule of having enough supplies secured to sustain you and your family, or office, for three days, then schedule an exercise to put your plan to the test. If you have children, turn your actions into a game. You don't want to be going out your second-story window on a rescue ladder (if that's what your plan calls for) for the first time when your life depends on it. Practice makes perfect, but better yet, perfect practice makes perfect, and the only way to get there is to know what you're doing in advance.
Establish Reliable Communications
You already have a home phone (land line), a cell phone and a computer. "What more do I need?" you ask. So imagine this; home phone/down, cell service/down, computer based communication/down. Now what? Be creative. For around $100 you can get a pair of very reliable, battery operated two-way radios. This can give you communication capability between radios on a FRS (family radio service) for distances between one and five miles, depending on your environment. Want something more global? For around $1,200 you can purchase a satellite phone that works on a global network designed to operate during disasters. In any case, make your communications redundant and be sure you can get word out about your situation, whether it's just next door or around the state.
Don't Take Chances
How many times have we seen motorists being pulled from their vehicles in high water areas after they drove past signs that said "high water do not enter?" While hindsight is always 20/20, why take it to that degree? Common sense is an excellent tool of preparedness! "I think I'll just take my chances" is not the way to approach any disaster situation. Combine the two essential elements of knowing your environment, along with listening to public safety officials, and come to your own common sense conclusion as to what plan of action to take. Once a decision has been made, don't wait around. Put it into action and make it happen.
You would always have a fire extinguisher in your home, so why not have a disaster plan as well. Being prepared comes in many forms, but prior planning precedes any good plan of action. In our world of technology, if you choose to remain aware, there is no reason to become a victim.
Stay safe out there!