Over the last couple of years or so, the world has experienced the wrath of Mother Nature as her fury unfolded and unleashed upon the world. Many are blaming these disasters to man's folly and lack of care for the environment, pointing out global warming for the very noticeable changes in weather patterns and the climate.
As we can see from news coverage of these disasters and emergencies, the greatest tragedies occur due to lack of preparedness and disaster management coordination in affected areas. Disasters can happen anytime and in these cases at the least expected moment, that is why the world has come to recognize the importance of being prepared for anything.
Preparedness and proper disaster management efforts can minimize the extent of damages, hardships and tragedies associated with these natural calamities and disasters. Such methods and measures do not only apply to natural disasters but also to manmade causes as well. The key thing here is to be prepared for anything should disaster strike.
Disaster management and preparedness is not a really difficult task to perform, particularly in a home. The most important aspect is to plan for everything and this includes training all members of the household to be prepared for anything should disaster strikes, and to know their action path before, during and after a particular disaster.
The following discusses some of the disaster management and preparedness methods and measures that every household should be equipped and ready for. Part of this is to understand what you and your household will be dealing with, and to know your course of action should you encounter such disasters right within the midst of your homes.
Finding the Risks in Your Area
As mentioned earlier, disasters can strike anytime and when you least expect them to happen however, some localities and areas are more prone to certain disasters than others. This is possibly due to the geographical location, the community and the current environmental factors that could affect the community and how disasters would behave or occur in that particular area.
The first step in your disaster management program should be to make an assessment on the potential risks for disasters that your area or locality would be prone to. Depending on what part of the world you are currently living in, a variety of disasters can come your way, which includes fire, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tropical storms, tsunamis and other natural disasters. Knowing the risks that your home can have, you will be able to determine the extent of your disaster preparedness and management efforts.
Once you have identified the risks and likelihood of a particular disaster in your area, you should now educate yourself on how you can determine the warning signs of such disasters. Although this may be quite difficult to make, but when you know certain trends of how natural disasters behave can guide you in your preparedness efforts. For example, a rash of tornadoes in a particular state or area will most likely affect your locality most of the time. Another is the occurrence of tropical storms in one country will most likely have a direct impact in your own country after a certain period. Such information, on top of what your local disaster coordinating council is informing the public, would be a great help to trigger you to start moving and preparing your household for an imminent disaster.
Gearing Up and Being Prepared for a Disaster
Once you are well educated about the potential risks and possibilities for certain disasters in your home and locality, you can now begin structuring your own disaster management program. It should be noted that the preparation for one particular disaster, e.g. earthquakes, is much different than disaster preparation and management for floods.
Once you have defined the specifics of your disaster management program, you can start training the members of your household on their roles in the program.
The following elements provide good starting points for your particular disaster management programs.
* The Evacuation Plan
Most of the fatalities that were unfortunate enough to get caught up in a disaster were those who have not heeded the call for evacuation. Some actually heeded the call but where too late to respond and take action. Others that met tragedies in these situations may not even know what to do when faced with a major disaster or how to act for their own safety.
In a disaster management program, the first thing to have should be a proper evacuation plan. The plan should lay out the specific actions to take in a particular disaster that has the highest probability of hitting your place. These plans include not only the action that should be taken by people in your household, but it should also include important steps and details with regards to your valuables, pets and other critical possessions.
The key thing here in having an evacuation plan in particular is to put yourself and your household in complete preparedness for any disaster eventuality. People should not wait until disasters or emergencies strike before they take action. Doing it this way would be too late and would sometimes prove fatal and tragic.
Some areas and localities that are prone to the disaster belt usually have programs and evacuation plan formats prepared by the local government that people in the community can follow. You can pattern your own plans with these pre-existing ones and just make customizations that can be applicable for your own homes or family structures.
The second most important thing to perform after creating an evaluation plan is to let members of your household be familiarized with the details of the plan. It would be a wise move to have drills once in a while with these plans as guides. Should disasters strike, a well-drilled household would act more appropriately and would have less panic in their midst.
* The Evacuation Kit
Once you're finalized with an evacuation plan, the next step is to have an evacuation kit well prepared and ready to go or use in the event of an unexpected disaster occurrence. The evacuation kit should be safe kept in an easily accessible location and checked on a regular basis. Having a kit such as this prevents the need for gathering supplies hurriedly while in the midst of an emergency. A well prepared evacuation kit will also prevent important items and necessities from being left out.
A disaster or evacuation kit should contain the following items as a minimum:
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- A battery powered radio plus extra set of batteries
- First-aid kit
- Medicines / Antibiotics
- Food and Water (to be discussed later)
- Items for personal hygiene
- Tools such as wrenches, knives, pliers and screwdrivers
- Sleeping bags
- Extra clothing
- Babies / Children's Needs
- Other important items you believe is necessary
Aside from your disaster kits, you should also have ready cash kept in waterproof containers within easy reach. Documents and other critical valuable items should be kept in waterproof containers to prevent potential damage particularly in disasters caused by floods and hurricanes.
Kits can be brought in specialty stores but homeowners can make one on their own which can be more customized to the specific needs of household members. The important thing here is to have one whatever the source may be and should be readily available for use at a moment's call.
* Preparing Food and Basic Necessities
A very important part of the overall disaster kit is food and water. Experts recommend preparing a stock good for two weeks at the least. These should include ready to eat food items that require no additional cooking. Such items include meat jerky, canned foods, dried fruits, powdered milk, granola bars, cookies, crackers and vitamins. Spices like salt and pepper plus adder additional spices can be useful items to have in your stockpile.
When disaster strikes and power has gone out, food from the refrigerator should be consumed first before consuming food from the freezer. The frozen nature of such foods can make them last a little longer. Food from your stockpile should be consumed last as these can be more durable and would last for a much longer time.
Water is a very critical ingredient and you should have at least 3 gallons each as a minimum. Milk and other beverages are also important additions to your stockpile. You can also throw in some energy drinks as an added source.
* Preparing Your Household
In the event of a disaster, being organized and having a well-thought-of plan can spell the difference between tragedies and a properly executed disaster management program.
Periodically, it would be wise to perform drills and practices of your evacuation plans as well as proper trainings and table discussions on other parts of your disaster management program. Trainings can be done on your own or through the tutelage of a qualified disaster management professional or agency. Household members who are well trained would be in less risky situations particularly if they what to do. They would be more organized and not easily affected by panic, no matter what levels of disasters and situations you may be.
There are also available training programs on disaster management being offered by the local governments and even professional entities. A variety of books, online courses, audio-video training materials are available that provides additional information on how to execute a disaster management program properly.
The most important thing here is to have a program and to execute this program properly. Your life and that of your household members will depend on it eventually.