Disasters happen unexpectedly, often leaving us with no other choice but to face the aftermath of it, no matter how horrible they are and how miserable they have made our lives. The only consolation we get is that we always have the option to mitigate the events through effective disaster management.
However, disaster management does not pose as a ready option. Choices need to be made and efforts are required to mitigate the disaster. While disaster management is a tedious task for many people, it sure has its own rewards especially when it is practiced the right way.
Disaster management is defined as the discipline of avoiding and dealing with natural risks. The whole process involves a preparation plan for the impending disaster, action in response to a disaster, and support and strength to rebuild a community after the occurrence of a disaster.
In general, disaster management is a continuous process that aims to manage and minimize hazards. Under disaster response, you'll find a variety of actions to take like quarantine, mass decontamination, evacuation and the like.
Disaster management has its own advantages. Some of these are:
- Reduces the effects of a disaster's aftermath.
- Gives your family the chance to survive, no matter what kind of disaster occurs and irrespective of when it occurs.
- Gives you peace of mind from the uncertainties of close encounters to unexpected and dangerous natural events.
Anybody can make his or her own disaster management plan. Before proceeding to the detailed steps of the disaster plan, it is necessary that you take note of the following points:
- What kind of natural disasters is your area most prone to? Study the topography of your location very carefully. What types of disasters can happen in your place? Is your area vulnerable to earthquakes, hurricanes, snow storms, floods or fires? Keep yourself well informed to the community-warning signals. To jump start your disaster management plan, you can get ideas from your workplace or your kids’ school disaster plans. Disaster plans may also be available with you local community or library. Review these plans and try to translate it to your home structure and family needs.
- The next step to disaster management is to develop your own disaster management plan. The first thing to do is to make a checklist. Assign tasks to each family member for possible events like fire, earthquake, hurricane, snow storm, flood or explosion. Who will be responsible for important documents (marriage certificates, existing contracts, billings, photographs, family heirlooms and the like)? Who will be in charge of the family pet? You can also assign a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case nobody is inside the bounds of your home. Make sure that your house has an emergency exit. Find out where your fire extinguishers are located. Keep an emergency phone a little farther from your home area. This could be a readily charged mobile phone or the like.
- Equip your home with emergency supplies – not just for the whole family but for your pets as well. Emergency supplies can include fully charged or battery-powered flash lights and emergency lights, first aid kit, sanitary items, baby food, wipes and spare clothing(if you have a small baby), prescription medicines, battery-powered radio with spare batteries, trash bags, bottles of distilled water, extra blankets, thick clothing like sweaters, mittens and socks,non-perishable food items, crackers or whatever you think would be necessary for the family's survival. You will find a variety of checklist suggestions in the Internet but always tailor fit your list to suit your family's needs.
- Conduct disaster management drills. It is very important to keep the family well informed about the role of each family member during an emergency. Practice your disaster plan at least once every six months. Make sure you conduct evaluation drills as well. Have a list of emergency phone numbers posted near your main home phone. Check your home for debris-prone areas. Inspect objects which can block your doors and emergency exits. These could be in the form of bookshelves, dividers, mirrors and the like. Try to remove them and place them in a different place so that you can easily move out of your house in case of an emergency. Make sure that all family members are aware of the location of the emergency supplies in the house.
- The core of disaster management is your response to the disaster. What will you do when the disaster strikes? Keep an eye on your kids. Check for injuries. Always switch your radio station on. Make sure that all your pets are in a safe location. Keep your main switches turned off especially in the event of possible gas leaks. Most importantly, stay as calm as possible.
After considering the factors above, it is time to proceed to the details. Disaster management, being the urgent and the unexpected phenomenon that it is, needs a specific and step-by-step plan. You would not have time to make an impromptu and detailed plan of action once you're on the actual incident.
The checklist below will save you and your family at the time of a disaster. Following these tips will surely keep you stay calm and relaxed.
- Be ready with your emergency supplies. Make sure that your stocks will last for at least three days. If you go on a vacation, make sure that you keep all important documents inside a sturdy and closed container. Take time to assemble an emergency kit with all items which you will need during an evacuation. Keep these supplies in containers such as travel bags or backpacks.
Other things to consider are the following:
- Non-perishable food and at least 4 liters of water per person per day
- At least one set of clothing per person
- One sleeping bag with a blanket for each person
- Flashlights and battery-powered radio
- Credit cards, cheques or cash
- Enough toiletries for the whole family
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Keep your utilities under your control. Know where the main water service, main natural gas switch and the main electric switch is located. Make sure you know how to turn these utilities on and off. Teach all family members on how to do it. Once you suspect that lines have been damaged or on local authorities' advice, turn off all utilities right away. It is better to take professional help to turn on the main gas switch.
Once you have your emergency supplies and stocks ready, the next thing to plan for is the list of things that has to be done before, during and after the disaster. Consider your family's capacity – the age of your kids, home location and topography, number of family members and the like.
Which disaster is your home most prone to? Is your location prone to flood, volcano eruption or tsunami? Ask the local authorities for exact disaster history. It will help you to make a better plan for all possible disasters. This way, you can stay calm and relaxed all the time.
What to do Before, During and After an Earthquake
The first part is a safety checklist before the disaster – in this case, an earthquake. For your family's disaster plan, always tailor fit your checklist.
- Practice your emergency plan with the entire family regularly.
- Designate a person who does not live in your location as the contact person to call during the emergency.
- Choose several meeting places for the family. Make sure the locations are accessible by all family members.
- Learn how to perform first aid.
- Have your home quake-proofed by securing heavy objects and furniture.
The second part is about the safety checklist during an earthquake.
- Do not panic. Make sure you stay as calm as possible.
- If you are in the ground floor of a building, leave the building as soon as you can. Bring a hard object like a book or a board and put it over your head to keep you safe from falling debris.
- If you are inside a high-rise building, stay underneath a sturdy furniture like a table. Make sure you keep your head and your upper body safe. Once the shaking stops, leave the building as soon as you can BUT do not ever use elevators.
- If you were outdoors, move to an open area far from bridges, buildings and other infrastructures.
- If you were driving, keep away from infrastructures like tunnels, overpasses, bridges and the like. Park in an open area as well.
The last part is a safety guide after the disaster has occurred.
- Do not go out of the house immediately. Give time for objects to fall before making any move.
- Be very cautious when moving around. Check your surroundings for unstable objects and debris.
- Check yourself for injuries and cuts. Conduct first aid when necessary.
- Watch TV and listen to the radio for emergency information and for added safety.
- Take time to inspect water, electric and gas lines. If leaks are detected, make sure you shut down the main switches right away and then report the leaks to authorities.
It is very important that you have a disaster management plan to save you and your family from any natural disaster. Plan yours today!