Last week’s earthquake in Japan is a horrific reminder of why I try to convince you to be have at least some basic emergency preparations in your home.
Building codes saved lives during the quake and at first it looked like things were going to be fine. Then we saw the footage of the tsunami, now we hear of radiation. We hear of people with nowhere to go, no food, and no water.
I’m not trying to be a fear monger. There are various states of preparedness and I don’t expect everyone to sit around and plan on getting through TEOTWAWKI. I don’t live on a compound and I certainly don’t live in fear waiting for the black helicopters. However I do know that having the ability to hunker down in your home for at least 72 hours or having the means to get to safer ground is invaluable.
Most of the time disasters are small, personal, and mostly an inconvenience. Perhaps the flu has made the rounds and no one is well enough to go to the store. Other times diasters are local, maybe your town was hit by an ice storm that knocked out the power for forty-eight hours. Both of these scenarios are played out in many homes and cities each year.
Every June I remind my fellow East Coasters to get ready for hurricane season.
Right now I’m asking you to do a few, reasonable things.
Put together an emergency pantry, including your medications.
You don’t want to be out adding to the confusion if you don’t have to. Think how nice it would be to never have to deal with the bread and milk lines at the grocery store ever again.
Try not to let your vehicle’s gas tank drop below 1/2 full.
The object is to stay out of lines if evacuation is ever necessary.
Keep an emergency kit in your car.
Let Japan be a lesson here. Not every disaster is polite enough to provide advance notice, earthquakes and chemical spills come to mind.
Plan a rally point.
What if your spouse is at work and you have to leave and the cellular networks are jammed? Do you know where you would go and how you would get there? What if the traffic was so bad that the main route was not an option, how else would you get there? Does that seem unlikely? It happens, especially when mandatory evacuations are ordered. If you know where your loved ones are headed, you may be spared many agonizing hours if there is no communication.
These basic plans can’t overcome every disaster, but for most they can help you stay out of harm’s way when confusion and anxiety are at their highest. These points are also not meant to be all-inclusive, they are simply a starting point.
Ready.gov also has some great tips and checklists.
This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about emergency preparedness here on Home Ec 101, back when no one was sure what was going to happen with H1N1 I wrote: Let’s Play Disaster Scenario. I don’t play off the headlines hoping for Google traffic. My goal is to raise awareness and reduce anxiety. I bring up these conversations when I feel people may be more receptive to the idea that sometimes bad things happen and there are things you can do to lessen the impact. I don’t believe the world will end tomorrow, I’m fairly confident that 2012 will be just another year -maybe more like 1999 / 2000 with lots of hype.
What about you? How prepared are you?