Be Prepared for Emergencies by Planning in Advance

Is seems like emergencies and natural disasters have been striking with a vengeance the last year or two. Just look at some of what has happened in March 2012 alone:

  • M 5.4 strong earthquake Offshore Chiapas, Mexico (@ 85 km depth) with epicenter located just 17 km SW Acapetahua. The populated area Tapachula is located 74 km far from epicenter where light shaking of MMI IV will have felt.
    23:06 UTC (local time Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 05:06 PM @ epicenter)
  • M 4.7 moderate deep earthquake in Southern Peru (@ 186 km depth) with epicenter located 37 km W of Puno. Light to weak shaking will have experienced as far as Arequipa, Peru
    21:30 UTC (local time Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 04:30 PM @ epicenter)
  • M 3.3 weak very shallow earthquake in Maui Region, Hawaii (@ 0.6 km depth) with epicenter located just 6 km SSE from Lanai City. Weak shaking of MMI II-III will have felt around epicenter rea
    20:27 UTC (local time Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 10:27 AM @ epicenter)
  • M 4.3 moderate earthquake in Cyprus Region (@ 53 km depth) with epicenter located 105 km NW of Paphos. It will have faintly felt as Alanya, Turkey
    10:44 UTC (local time Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 12:44 PM @ epicenter)
  • M 4.5 moderate shallow earthquake in Dominican Republic Region (@ 19 km depth) with epicenter located 107 km NE from Higüey. Weak shaking will have felt as far as Santo Domingo
    04:15 UTC (local time Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 12:15 AM @ epicenter)
  • M 4.0 moderate very shallow earthquake in Eastern Turkey (@ 2 km depth) with epicenter located 14 km E Van. Light to weak shaking will have experienced within 50 km radius
    03:23 UTC (local time 05:23; 2012/03/13 @ epicenter)
  • M 5.0 moderate shallow earthquake in Comoros Region (@ 15 km depth) with epicenter located 81 km N of Moroni. Just a weak shaking will have experienced by the people of Moroni 02:39 UTC (local time Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 05:39 AM @ epicenter)
  • Flash flood in Northern Chile
    -About 300 people evacuated from Valley of Azapa after flooding of the Rio San Jose in the town of Arica
    -Heavy rainfall with flooding knocked down bridges and blocked the rail line to neighboring Peru
    -Red Alert is declared for the Province of Magallanes. Also for the Province of Tamarugal
    -1,500 customers in Punta Arenas coastal remained without power
    -The classes in the town of Punta Arenas are suspended
  • Flash flood in Port Moresby Region, Papua New Guinea
    -Road collapsed between Port Moresby’s central business district and outlying suburbs
    -A temporary bridge is being considered so traffic can resume
    -No deaths or injuries reported so far
  • Flooding in Australia
    -Further three local government areas across NSW declared as Natural disaster area. The areas of Cobar, Jerilderie and Queanbeyan have been declared as a natural disaster area, taking the total number of natural disaster areas to 59
    -Flood evacuation order for 2000 residents is in affect for those in Hay and Maude
    -Following, Ministry of police and emergency, the current operational focus is around Hay, where an Evacuation Order remains in place. On the Lachlan River, planning and operational response for towns downstream of Forbes, including Bedgerebong, Condobolin, Willow Bend, Euabalong, Murrin Bridge and Lake Cargelligo are underway
    -Landslide at Ellis Beach cut-off the Captain Cook Highway yesterday
    -Flood warnings have been issued for coastal and adjacent inland catchments from Cairns to Bowen including the Tully and Murray Rivers (minor flooding) and the Bohle River (moderate flooding) and Don River (minor flooding)
  • Tornado Hits San Antonio, Texas
    -Tornado touched down about 25 miles southwest of San Antonio, damaging houses and flooding across the region
    -Six homes reported to be damaged so far in the Ted Williams and Ladd Road area in Southwest Bexar County
    -The National Weather Service had issued flash flood warnings for parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana

Once the emergency strikes, it is too late for preparation. Many emergencies and natural disasters strike with little or no warning, just like those mentioned above. The best strategy to be prepared for an emergency is to plan in advance, even if the likelihood of the emergency is remote. If you ask me, it is always better to be safe and prepared than sorry you weren’t.

General Emergency Preparation 

  • Consider what types of emergency you are likely to encounter where you live and how you will cope with them. Discuss them with your family.
  • Put emergency procedures in place in case of fire, local flooding and power failure. This will include safe evacuation routes, preservation of life and emergency supplies. Involve the whole family and make sure children are aware of what they need to do and where they need to go. It is a good idea to have occasional practice drills to make sure the kids understand.
  • Keep an up to date list of emergency telephone numbers beside your phone and make sure all family members understand what each one is for.
  • Prepare an emergency kit and keep it where it is easily accessible to all family members. The kit should contain a torch, spare batteries, first aid kit and a portable radio with spare batteries.
  • Store important documents, irreplaceable valuables and photos in the one place so they can be quickly grabbed if you need to evacuate the house. Consider using a fire-proof box or small safe in case you have to leave them behind.
  • Plan for your pets and other animals in an emergency. Have a safe place for them if you have to leave them behind, stocked with food and water.
  • Understand what your household insurances actually cover and what is excluded. Make sure you have sufficient cover for the most likely emergencies.
  • Learn when you need to turn off the utilities to the house and how to do it.
  • Make sure at least one family member learns CPR.
  • Plan ahead for the possibility of an emergency in different locations, such as home, work or your car. Keep emergency supplies in each location. Understand the evacuation procedures at your workplace.

Possible Emergencies Specific to your Area 

  • Be aware if you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters like cyclones, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and bushfires. Take precautions even if you could only expect a 100 year flood.
  • Take all the necessary precautions to limit damage to property, injury and loss of life. Get the latest information from the local authorities.
  • Have a planned escape route or somewhere to sit out the emergency.
  • Understand where the safest places are for your type of emergency or disaster.
  • Decide under what circumstances you will stay or leave your home. This needs to be carefully planned in advance as there is often little time to be making major decisions during an emergency.
  • During the emergency season, keep supplies of water, first aid and non-perishable food in the house. You may be stranded for several days, without power, phone or water, so make contingency plans for this possibility.
  • Organize for a relative or friend from outside the area to act as the contact in the event that family members are separated during an emergency.
  • When outside you home, be aware of exit points, stairways, fire extinguishers etc.

When an Emergency Strikes 

  • Stay calm.
  • Put your advance planning into action quickly, safely and without panic.
  • Follow the instructions of emergency personnel.
  • Contact your family as soon as you can so that they know that you are safe.
  • Have a card with your contact details in your wallet so that you can be identified and your family can be contacted.

Being prepared and knowing what to do in an emergency greatly increases your chance of survival. Always assume and plan for the worst possible situation to be sure you come through it safely.

So, do you have an emergency plan in place? Or, have you ever had to endure an emergency situation, and if so, what happened?

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Be Prepared for Emergencies by Planning in Advance — 18 Comments

  1. Thankfully we are not in an “earthquake” zone – and far enough inland not to have to worry about floods – but I do have a “Home File” of copies of all our emergency details (phone numbers, insurance details and bank contacts).

    There is a hard copy in a bag by our door – to grab and run, with a back up on a data-stick stashed at my Mums house (10 miles away)……….. just in case LOL

  2. We don’t have a plan in place, but I know we should. We live right on a fault line, and there’s been small earthquakes, and they keep guessing that something big will happen eventually.

  3. One thing that people commonly fail to prepare for is water. Most estimates say you need anywhere from 6-15 L of water a day to meet basic survival and sanitation needs. But how many people can say that if the water system gets shutdown, they have a method of getting that kind of water without going to store and buying it bottled? I know who I’d like to be in an emergency…the guy selling bottled water!

  4. We live in an area where those mega-thrust, magnitude 9+ temblors happen periodically (on average, every 700 years where we live). When we first moved here (nearly 3 years ago), I thought about this nearly every day–not good. But I’ve done a lot of preparing, and as we get better prepared, I think about the inevitable Big One less. Still, I jump a little whenever one of those large trucks rumbles by our house. :-0

  5. As important as this subject is, it’s almost rare that I come across a post about it. I’m really glad that you wrote this, and I will bookmarked it. One of the best things you can do for you and your family is to have an emergency or a disaster relief plan in place. You just never know when you might need it. Really. this is a good one!

  6. Everyone can hit an unexpected emergency. Doesn’t matter where you live, something can happen you didn’t expect. You are so right that the things you do to prepare impact how well you handle life after the event.

    • I like to think you can never over plan. If you don’t need something, oh well. At least you had it if you did.

      Planning for the unexpected seems to be on the bottom of the priority list these days for many when it shouldn’t be. We could all do better to use a bit of foresight and planning.

  7. You’re welcome. I always find it interesting that we will make such an effort to plan other things like what we are going to do tomorrow, what to buy for groceries, etc. and yet we fail to plan to save our lives if we need. I am not trying to make you feel bad at all. Many people are guilty of this. I was too at one point.

    Glad you are going to make sure you are prepared. Your safety is important.

  8. I live in NH where the worst type of weather is a bad snowstorm that can knock out power for days. Therefore, I don’t have any type of plan in place. If I did live in an earthquake, flood, or tornado zone, I would make sure my family was aware of the emergency plan and I would have a “fire drill” every year with all my family members.

  9. We are not that well organised and probably should go for Elaine’s solution. However, we chose our house to be in an area where flooding is unlikely etc. I am thinking though about the relative weight of preparation and planning, and flexibility and skills in surviving a disaster. Btw, I still remember a blogger advising to carry your credit cards with you to cope with natural disaster; well, I suspect that ATMs won’t be much help if a flood has covered everything or a blust has ruined the city.

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