For the past several years we’ve seen a notable increase in the number of natural disasters occurring on American soil. Needless to say, almost every one of these disastrous events has caught us by surprise.
In 2005 a bad situation was made worse when levees were breached in downtown New Orleans’s sending a flood of contaminated water throughout most of the city almost a week after the rain had officially stopped. In 2015, California declared a state of emergency when 893,362 acres caught on fire. During the following rainy season, roads were washed away due to hillsides and natural barriers being newly exposed. Several main roadways up the grapevine remain permanently closed. And, in 2017, Maria, a category 5 hurricane, was recorded as the worst storm to ever hit Puerto Rico where more than 3,000 fatalities occurred over a two-week period. To date, the island still struggles to get clean water and food distributed to its 78 municipalities.
Regardless of the cause, more than ever, we know that earthquakes, mudslides, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, and forest fires are all real concerns and real possibilities. The results can be deadly and the aftermath may last for several years or longer. Everyone is subject to the possibility of experiencing some kind of natural disaster during their lifetime – and many of us already have.
So how do you prepare for an emergency situation? How do you prepare for “the big one?”
To start, every home should have some kind of emergency kit. You’ll want to make sure that it has everything you need to survive through an emergency situation but at a minimum, your emergency kit should include the following:
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
The general recommendation is, you always want to have enough canned or otherwise nonperishable food and clean drinking water to last you at least 72 hours. Following those guidelines, you should store at least one gallon per person, per day.
You also want to be alert. During an emergency situation, your best resource is a clear head. Knowing where your supplies are and what you have at your disposal will allow for easier decision making and quicker action when in a pinch.
Some quick reminders about what to do during an emergency include:
During an earthquake – It has been said that the safest place to be was in the doorway. This idea has long changed. In modern houses, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house. You are safer under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture.
Once the earthquake stops, keep an eye out for broken glass, debris and even powerlines that may have fallen.
During a hurricane – Stay inside and away from windows, skylights and glass doors. Find a safe area in your home (an interior room, a closet or bathroom on the lower level). If flooding threatens your home, turn off the electricity at the main breaker.
During a mudslide – Keep yourself alert and awake. Listen to a local news station for updates. Evacuate only if it is safe to do so. Be extra cautious and alert while driving and move out of the path of the landslide as quickly as you can.
In some cases, you may not be able to escape. If you are trapped in the path of a landslide, curl up into a tight ball and protect your head.
During a tornado – Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands.
Remembering this information may save a life, including your own. The reality remains that everyone needs to prepare and have a plan for when disaster strikes. That preparedness begins with taking action. Consider taking a CPR course. Invest in emergency supplies and create a new home, car and/or office safety kit. Communicate your plan and write it out if needed. Last, agree on a common meeting place in the event that you need to quickly evacuate and regroup (either to a family friend’s home, public park or school).
Having a contingency plan in place is key to ensuring the best possible outcome for your safety as well as the safety of your loved ones when the big one hits.
Practice Leadership Coach
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128