Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, chemical spills, tsunamis, and fires can strike at any time. The images are devastating, and our hearts and thoughts go out to those affected by these natural disasters. If a disaster strikes your area, would you be prepared? Emergency preparedness reminds us that we need to be prepared in the event a natural or human-made disaster occurs. Knowing what to do and having a plan can not only save your life but the life of others as well. Keep reading to learn about emergency preparedness.
What You Need to Know about Emergency Preparedness
September is National Preparedness Month, but you may want to think about emergency preparedness throughout the year. After all, disaster can strike at any time, and being prepared may be the difference between life and death. It’s important to stay informed through radio, TV, or the internet. However, if you don’t have electricity, communication will be nearly impossible.
Here are some tips from the National Safety Council:
- Have a family communication plan in place. Everyone should review and practice the plan.
- Write down family members’ and other important phone numbers.
- Store important documents (birth certificates, insurance policies, etc.) in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box.
- Know first-aid (have multiple kits available) and CPR for people and pets.
- Learn how to shut off utilities.
- Have a pet emergency kit for each one of your pets.
Personal safety matters! If disaster strikes while you’re on the road, at work, or on vacation, here are some tips that could help you.
Emergency Preparedness: On The Road
If you travel for work or pleasure, it’s important to be prepared in the event of a disaster. After all, you don’t have to travel far to get stuck in your car. For instance, you could hit a muddy road and get stuck. Or maybe you live in a snowy area and crash into a snowbank. Perhaps you take a wrong turn and drive into a pond. Even if you have your cell phone, emergency preparedness can come in handy. For instance, you should have the following in your vehicle:
- First-aid kit
- Rain poncho
- Jumper cables
- Spare tire and jack
- An emergency auto tool that breaks the glass and cuts the seatbelt
- Tire inflator
- Portable charging station
- Cable ties
- Non-perishable food
It’s also a good idea to have a car emergency kit that may have some of the items (bungee cords, tow rope, etc.) listed above along with supplies for five days. The priority is to remain calm and stay hydrated. You’ll need to drink about a gallon a day, so make sure you have plenty of water in your car. Some brands of boxed water claim to have a shelf life of five years. Another alternative is to carry empty water bottles with you and fill them as you need them.
Additionally, you’ll want to keep sanitation in mind. Hey! If you have to go, you have to go. Of course, this can be tricky in your car. Carry unscented baby wipes and toilet paper. Wipes are a good substitute for toilet and can be used for cleaning. Also pack plastic garbage bags, medium and large zip-lock style bags, and wire ties. You can use these as disposable containers. You may also want to bring a bedpan because if it’s too cold outside, you may have to use it. Also, pack a bottle of hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray.
Emergency Preparedness: At Work
Employers should have emergency plans in place. In fact, you may have had practice drills to ensure you and your co-workers know what to do. For example, training may have included:
- Reviewing individual roles and responsibilities.
- Going over the different threats, hazards, and protective actions.
- Reviewing notification, warning, and communications procedures.
- Examining accountability, evacuation, and shelter procedures.
- Inspecting location and use of emergency equipment.
- Establishing a protocol for locating employees in an emergency.
- Emergency preparedness and shut down procedures.
However, it pays to have a personal plan in place. For instance, it’s not a bad idea to have an emergency survival kit at work filled with non-perishable foods, a flashlight, dust mask, and more. You should also know where the exits are located because if the electricity goes out, you won’t be able to use the elevator and will have to take the stairs. And, make sure you have more than one person as an emergency.
Keep in mind that in the event of a disaster, you may have to evacuate the premises. In fact, you may want to keep your personal belongings close by, including your purse, messenger bag, and cell phone. This way you can quickly grab them and leave. You’ll also want to stay informed by listening to TV, radio, or internet.
No matter where you work, there’s a slight chance an emergency may happen. The best thing you can do is remain cool, calm, and collective. After all, panicking doesn’t help and could make the situation worse. Also, you may consider taking an emergency or survival class where experts teach you the skills needed to navigate a disaster. In the event a disaster happens, you will be prepared.
Emergency Preparedness: On Vacation
Disasters don’t care when you go on vacation – they can hit anytime, anywhere. And let’s face it: you may be subject to Murphy’s Law of Travel – what can go wrong, will go wrong. Even though you can’t wait to leave on your cruise vacation or road trip, you’ll want to be prepared for unexpected emergencies that may happen. Here are a few emergency preparedness travel tips:
- Give your itinerary to someone.
- Pack a first-aid and hygiene kit.
- Get traveler’s insurance to cover medical emergencies, especially if you travel out of the country.
- Pack your medicines and a water filtration/purification kit.
- Store your passport, money, and credit cards in a money pouch/travel crossbody bag.
- Keep one change of clothes in a carry-on or daypack.
- Read about your destination’s transportation.
- Familiarize yourself with safety and evacuation procedures.
- Learn about local emergency alerts and radio systems.
- Pay attention to the weather for your destination.
- Pack a dust mask, emergency whistle, and wireless lighting.
- Traveling with a pet? Bring a pet first-aid kit and other essentials: float coat, harness, blanket, and extra food.
Experiencing a disaster on your vacation would make it one that you wouldn’t forget. Anything may happen. You may fall and break your arm, or a fire could break out in your hotel. Having an emergency plan in place will give you peace of mind. After all, it’s better to be prepared and ‘know’ before you go.
Will You Be Prepared When a Disaster Strikes?
No one wants to think about disaster striking. However, you may not want to brainstorm for the worst-case scenarios, including a chemical spill, fire, earthquake, etc. Once you’ve thought about these and other emergencies, think about how it may affect you and how you would respond. You may consider taking first-aid and CPR classes so that you can help out in the event of an emergency.