As I begin this blog series, several Caribbean islands and parts of the US have experienced the devastation of two hurricanes–Harvey and Irma–both striking within weeks of each other. In addition, several US states have suffered staggering losses from wildfires, which are still not contained. And last week, a massive earthquake off southern Mexico killed at least 90 people and damaged tens of thousands of homes, affecting more than 2 million people.
My hope is that these horrific events–even through all the suffering and loss–will remind each of us about what’s most important. For those who have lost power, water, homes, roads, businesses, workplaces, schools, churches, and more, I pray that you feel fortified by the love and support of those around you, as you begin recovery efforts in the coming days, weeks, months, and years ahead.
Regardless of where you live, chances are that sooner or later you’ll face some sort of a disaster that will leave you without power, water, or access to buy more. It could be a natural disaster like a hurricane, snow storm, flood, tornado, or earthquake. Or it could be a man-made disaster that has the power grid failing or requires you to stay put in your home for a few days or even weeks.
The world can be a harsh place, but there’s something each of us can do. We can prepare for whatever disasters are most likely to occur where we live.
Your first step in your own disaster preparedness is to find out what types of emergency situations and disasters your area is prone to. This is particularly important for natural disasters. If you live in Florida or the Southeast US coast, you’ll want to prepare for hurricane season. If you live in the Northeast or south of the Great Lakes, be prepared for big snow storms. If you’re in the Midwest, or Southwest, chances are you’ll come across a tornado or two. Along the west coast (including Alaska), be prepared for earthquakes and the possibility of a tsunami. During the hot and dry summer months, wildfires are a possibility.
Next, think about possible man-made disasters. If you live near a dam, you may need a plan of action for flooding. If you live near a nuclear plant, think about a way to get out quickly if something were to happen at the plant. You get the idea. The type of disasters you prepare for will be different for each person. Your emergency plan will depend on many variables.
Once you have your list of disasters that you need to prepare for, it may be a good idea to consider if and when you would prepare to stay in your home and ride it out, and when it may be time to evacuate. Obviously, those decisions may be outside of your control, such as in the event of a mandatory evacuation, but there will also be plenty of times when the decision is up to you.
Think about what makes the most sense to you and your family. If you are able to safely stay in your home, you can take care of issues as they arise and possibly prevent further damage. For example, if a storm blows out a window, you can board it up and prevent water from coming in.
At other times, it may be safer to leave. Jeopardizing your life to save your property is not worth the risk. In those cases, as well as for mandatory evacuations, think about where you would go. Do you have family or friends you can stay with? If that’s not an option, look into an area you may want to travel to and write down the phone numbers for several hotels. Do not rely on your cell phone during a disaster, as cell service may be disrupted or power may be out and your phone battery may not be able to be recharged for a while.
Things move fast when a storm hits and evacuations are ordered. You don’t want to waste time trying to make decisions in the heat of the moment and find that all hotel rooms are completely booked. Shelters should always be a last resort, as they are not the most comfortable place to make it through a disaster.
In addition to being prepared for natural and man-made disasters, there are other life events that are also important to prepare for. Although none of us like to think about it, we are all mortal. Regardless of age, we all need to be prepared for when the time comes that we die or become disabled. Do you have your affairs in order? If not, I urge you to read my blog, Are You Prepared. You’ll receive tips about creating a Personal Operations Manual that will include the following: (1) directives and instructions for loved ones, (2) how to ensure that your financial plan is in order, and (3) documenting important family and household information that you or others will need access to during a disaster or medical emergency.
This Personal Operations Manual will take some time to create, and it’s not something to do last minute when you are in the midst of preparing for an impending disaster. Plan ahead and get this done so it’s available whenever you need it. You and your family will be glad you did this! Ignoring this kind of preparation can create a lot of stress, turmoil and angst for surviving loved ones who are left to deal with the fallout of managing someone else’s affairs.
Don’t wait until an emergency or disaster strikes. Get prepared now! Here’s how… make a list of all that you need to do in order to be prepared. Then add these tasks to your calendar and do each one until you’ve checked everything off the list.
This is the first of a four-part blog post. Watch your mailbox tomorrow for the second one. If you’d like to receive my FREE guide that includes information and tips provided in all four blog posts, please click here.
What did you learn from today’s post, and what “next step” will you take to get prepared?