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 oneΒ 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.

Natural and Man-made Disasters

We seem some coming, but others we cannot.

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.

Action Plan

1. Communication Plan

This kind does not work in emergencies.

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).

Meet right here.

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:

  • Medication
  • 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
  • Cash
  • Tools
  • 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

You do Make A Difference.

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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  1. Just discovered that spilled coffee cleans furniture. The emergency was to wipe it up before it rolled toward my computer. Guess I can think on my feet, and I wasn’t even stressed about it. Now I may have to brew another pot to clean the rest of the table…
    M. J. Joachim recently posted..Exciting Easter EggsMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 5, 2012

      *Applauds the brewing of more coffee* Thinking on your feet is a great survival instinct. Even when what is surviving is your puter πŸ˜‰

  2. We… have one… somewhere. Uh… I seriously can’t remember where we put it. Might be behind the couch (one moment, please *looking*). Yup. One disaster kit. Check. Behind couch. Under plant.
    spilledinkguy recently posted..Under the BridgeMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 5, 2012

      Sounds like it is time to check those expiration dates, SIG πŸ˜‰

  3. Great information and very handy, especially as a disaster is just about to strike in a book I’m writing.
    Francene recently posted..A – Z Writing Challenge: EMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 5, 2012

      Now you know what they will be prepared for…when you destroy their world *Cue maniacal evil laughter*

  4. This is a brilliant posting Red and it must be pretty scary living in the USA with all those hurricanes, whirlwinds, electrical storm, yes we get those storms here too and the odd whirlwind only on a much smaller scale, there was even a shudder of an earthquake here last year but nothing like what you peeps suffer in the USA.

    I think the most of us Brits would panic if we witnessed the force of a hurricane or whirlwind / twister πŸ™ Of course I have seen documentaries on the Discovery and National Geographic channels but never actually witnessed one first hand so I have no real concept of either.

    The thought of one of those Tsunami’s is enough to scare anyone I think? Such devastating forces that rip through the ocean lifting waves to thirty or so metres, it is a scary notion that’s for sure πŸ™

    A very well thought out posting with lots of facts and offerings of good sense thrown in for good measure πŸ™‚ Have a lovely Easter break Red and enjoy every moment of it πŸ™‚

    Androgoth XXx

    • Red

       /  April 5, 2012

      I have been less than 100 feet from a tornado and been through more hurricanes than I can count. Tornadoes are so amazing up close. The sound is not something I have ever heard replicated with any kind of authenticity. And despite all the footage of devastation, a hurricane is the most calming of storms for me.

      As I am writing this, there is an electrical storm afoot. It is bright enough outside the window to read without a light, yet the thunder is strong enough to vibrate the walls and windows. Mother Nature is a power lady with one wicked temper!

      We are breaking for Easter next week, as we are headed to the wedding. Meanwhile, I have plans for later… Hope you are enjoying the start to a fabulous weekend, Andro.

      • I really like how you write my great friend, it is with such ease and always offers such an entertaining package, yours is one of my most favourite Spaces and of course our Wombie friends, and now I must retreat and add a coffee to my list, oh no I don’t do lists and so it will be just a coffee and whatever i want to do next πŸ™‚

        Your little break sounds exquisite to me and i wish you a very sweet time Red πŸ™‚

        Androgoth XXx

  5. Last summer a hurricane came very close (it was a tropical storm when it got her)– at any rate, we lost power for 4 days. It was the longest power outage I had ever experienced. We managed because we were prepared. It is important, especially with kids, to be ready. Of course, this does not mean you need to take it to the “Doomsday Prepper” status. (although I do enjoy that television show)
    Derek Mansker recently posted..A Day in the LifeMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 5, 2012

      I will chalk that up to yet another reason I do not watch television. Glad to hear from someone who knows this works. Where I am from, power outages can last as long as three weeks. Hurricanes tear Louisiana to shreds.

  6. I’ve never been close to a tornado or hurricane or anything else of that kind. I don’t think I’d be too calm in a hurricane.

    I’ve got enough flashlights for an army, but am kind of lacking in other areas.

    And a typical hot water tank holds 2o or so gallons, so it’s a good source if you have one.
    Binky recently posted..More VegetablesMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 5, 2012

      Yes, it is. Filling the bathtub when a storm is approaching is a good way to keep from using precious potable water for such tasks as washing hands and flushing.

  7. Been through a tornado. Lived. Saw another one. Lived.

    Just a thought, add toilet paper packaged in zip lock bags to your list of supplies. It has more uses than the obvious one.

    • Red

       /  April 5, 2012

      I will have to make the checklist out. That falls under the generic term here of “hygiene”. Sanitary pads are another thing on that list. They double as bandages, sponges and fire starters.

  8. Okay so this is bad….with our most recent spate of of grand Texas weather, this is what I did.

    Bird in travel cage.
    Dogs and Cats where I could grab them
    Cat carrier in interior bathroom
    Leash in interior bathroom
    Passports in purse
    Carton of cigarettes in purse
    Flashlights in purse
    3 extra books in purse
    Back up laptop battery in purse
    Back up of hard drive in purse

    I always have a first aid kit below the sink in the center bath, along with a case of water.

    We had 5 to 7 Tornado Sirens through the day. Each time, I checked the emergency weather station to see whether I needed to take cover with the animals. By the second one I had unplugged all electronics from the wall but the TV in the bedroom.

    But from my list above, guess you can tell what is important to me.
    valentinelogar recently posted..Cover your Head WomanMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 5, 2012

      Wait a minute…are you sure that was not MY purse you were looking into? Meanwhile, Mate was in his travel cage?

  9. Great post. We have some emergency preparedness. We bought a generator last time we had a major power outage due to a storm. We are not as prepared as we should be, however.
    Angela recently posted..Confessions of an Enabler by Angela Masters YoungMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 7, 2012

      Generators are not a bad idea. Especially when you require refrigeration for medications or specialty foods for the ill. Being sure you have fuel for it is important.


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