Emergencies and natural disasters are universal. There is not a single place on the Earth which is immune from inclement weather or human disaster phenomena. We have discussed ways to make a difference after the fact. Can you make a difference before disaster strikes? Time for the Thursday MAD post.
More than 800 tornadoes touch down each year. The average wake of a twister is over 650 feet wide and nearly 50 miles long. Look out the window. How many houses can you see? You are probably looking at less than one mile.
Of the 50 states in the United States, 39 are at risk for an earthquake. Yes, earthquakes happen on all fault lines, not just the St. Andreas Fault.
The flood plain is merely a point of reference. Nearly half (46%) of all disaster deaths are a result of flooding. Flash floods occur any time more than two inches of rain falls within one hour. Floods happen at all elevations. The lack of clean water and abundance of contaminated water after a flood is responsible for poisoning and the spread of disease.
A tropical storm becomes a hurricane (cyclone to those in Eastern Hemisphere and typhoon in the Pacific) when its wind speeds top 74 miles per hour (119 kph). Average hurricanes are between 200 and 400 miles in diameter (330 to 670 km). The largest hurricanes spawn in the northwest Pacific Ocean and can be over 500 miles (880 km) across.
Tsunamis start out as imperceptible, shallow waves in the deep waters of oceans. Their initial speeds of 600 mph (970 kph) slow when they reach the shallow shoals. When they slow, the energy is used to suck water into the wave which can top 100 feet (30m) before it crashes on shore.
September 11, 2001: The date to remind us of the reality of terrorist attacks and their damage the world over.
All of these events are unpredictable. So, how do you prepare for something you never see coming? You prepare for the aftermath.
These all have some common after effects.
- Limited or no access to public communication
- Limited or no access to potable (clean drinking) water
- Limited or no access to food
- Electricity interruption
- Public service interruption
- No access to refrigeration
- No access to banking
- No access to basic supplies
Response time worldwide has shrunken to only a few days in the majority of disasters. Relief agencies and foundations mobilize in advance of weather emergencies and within hours of unannounced disasters (tsunamis, terror attacks, tornadoes). Even with increased vigilance, victims of disaster need to be prepared.
1. Communication Plan
Choose one person outside the local area. Everyone in your family should have this person’s telephone number programmed into cell phones or in their wallets (with a telephone card or coins where pay telephones still exist). Family members without cell phones should go to a public authority to make emergency contact: police department, fire department, emergency services facility, governmental center.
Since cell phone signals jam in times of heavy use, the contact person should not attempt to reach the family, but should wait to hear from them. Recreational calls to check on friends should not be made. Instead, be sure your friends also have a communication plan prior to an event.
2. Meeting Location
Choose a primary location where your family should gather in the event of an emergency. This place should be your home, a neighbor’s or relative’s home about a mile (1 km) away or a public facility (school).
Choose a secondary meeting location in the event your primary location is inaccessible due to the emergency event. Set a place which is five to ten miles (8-16 km) from home. This is a distance which can be traveled in one day even in bad road and inclement weather conditions.
Once your family is all present, decide if you are going to stay in your home or go to an alternate location. If you live in an area prone to natural disasters, make preparations with non-local family or friends to stay in the event of an emergency.
3. 3-Day Emergency Supply Kit
Think about the things you will not be able to obtain during an emergency. Assemble those things to sustain your family for three days. If the emergency state will not be over for three days, this supply kit will help you reach a less affected or unaffected area. Your disaster kit needs a minimum of the following:
- Clean water (3 gallons per person)
- Non-perishable food
- First aid kit
- Flashlight with extra set of batteries (One for every two people)
- Alternative light source (and matches/batteries)
- Heat source (warmth and cooking)
- Telephone and directory
- Battery operated radio (set to correct channel for news)
- Hygiene supplies
- Garbage bags
- Manual can opener
- Disposable dishes and utensils
- Something to occupy your/children’s time
Once your disaster kit is assembled, mark your calendar. Every six months, rotate out the food, batteries and medications from the first aid kit. Check the viability of the fuel source.
Take It Away
We never plan for disasters, but they happen. Being prepared is the only way to mitigate the damage. It reduces the fear and anxiety surrounding emergencies.
Planning and preparing does make a difference in survival. Can you Make A Difference?
Do you have a disaster kit? When was the last time you checked your supplies? Would you MAD in someone else’s life by helping them prepare a disaster kit? Do the elderly or handicapped members of your family have a disaster kit? Would you make a difference for your neighbors by sharing this information?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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