Last year's pre-9/11/11 terrorist threat was uncovered (The target being New York City) involving 3 people, two of them being foreign and one being a naturalized U.S. citizen. It brings to light the need for American families to prepare smartly... then go about their normal daily functioning.
Then, hurricane Sandy brought home the fact that we have a dramatic increase in the numbers and intensity of tornados, floods, wildfires, and many other events due to climate change. The American family may want to learn about some emergency essentials, including food storage, emergency kits, water filtration, first aid, MRE (Meals Ready to Eat), survival kits, camping gear, disaster preparedness and more. In this aritcle, I offer some emergency preparatory thoughts about Cyber attack, tornado or hurricane strikes, power outages, wildfires and other events that could quickly separate you from the necessities of life. You can still maintain your families well-being by being prepared.
In an emergency the difference between life and death is preparedeness. First off, remember that natural disasters and emergencies may not normally occur while you are at home where your emergency supplies and food storage are kept. Because of this, it is important to have an emergency plan for the various places your family spends time. Our homes, schools and workplaces should have site-specific preparations for an emergency.
Some additional thoughts:
1.Keep a backpack or duffle bag of your own personal supplies in a desk drawer. This pack could include the following: Flashlight with extra batteries.
2.Read your company's evacuation plan. If your company doesn't have one, volunteer to prepare one. Make sure there is a good designated meeting location and every employee knows where to go.
3.To help you and your children feel safe away from home during an emergency, contact your school district to find out about their emergency plan and the policy on how children will be released from school.
4.Discuss your family emergency evacuation plan from your home in case of fire or other disaster, and a specific location to meet.
Think about what you have at your office that will help you get through an emergency. Maybe you have a candy bar or a package of stale donuts in your desk drawer or maybe just an old pack of chewing gum. At least that's a start! Do you even know if your company has an evacuation plan or how to use that plan?
The following 13 simple ideas will help you feel safe at work, even during an emergency:
1.Emergency bag or blanket (very compact and made of a special material that reflects up to 90% of your body heat)
2.Food (high calorie food bars, MREs, granola bars, fruit bars, candy bars, crackers, fruit leather, raisins, nuts, prepackaged foods, etc.)
3.Water pouches or juice boxes
4.Pair of walking shoes
5.Multi function knife
6.Mini first aid kit (adhesive bandages, rolled bandages for sprains, pain reliever, any medication you need, gauze, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic first aid cream, etc.)
7.Make sure you are aware of the exit routes in your building
8.Know where the fire extinguishers and first aid kits are located
9.Note the locations of stairways as you walk from room to room
10.Carry a card in your wallet or purse that has important phone numbers including the number of your out-of-state phone contact
11.Keep the area under your desk free of trash cans and clutter. This area is the best place to secure yourself in the event of an earthquake
12.Don't count on being able to get back to your desk for personal supplies if you are away when an emergency occurs. Store additional supplies in your car, such as an emergency car kit
13.Be sure you discuss a meeting plan with your family so they know where to go and when to expect you to get there.S
Schools should already have an emergency plan to make sure your children are safe, but do you know enough about it to explain it to your children? Some schools already have an emergency classroom kit. Find out where it is located. In addition, help your child prepare a small disaster kit to keep in their locker or desk. This kit could include the following 7 items:
1.Flashlight with extra batteries
2.Emergency bag or blanket (very compact and made of a special material that reflects up to 90% of your body heat)
3.Food (high calorie food bars, MREs, granola bars, fruit bars, crackers, candy bars, fruit leather, raisins, nuts, prepackaged foods, etc.)
4.Water pouches or juice boxes
5.Comic book for stress or boredom relief
6.Mini first aid kit (adhesive bandages, rolled bandages for sprains, pain reliever, any medication you need, gauze, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic first aid cream, etc.)Make sure your child knows how to use these first aid items properly. Help your child understand when they are allowed to use their disaster kit and exactly how to use it.
7.Include an identification card with their name, address, telephone number, emergency telephone numbers, birth date, and a reminder note to stay calm.
9 additional important thoughts:
- Make a family fun night out of getting everyone prepared.
- Help your children memorize important phone numbers.
- Teach them the location of the nearest police and fire stations and their phone numbers.
- Know the route to the nearest hospital emergency room.
- Meet with your neighbors and find out who has medical experience and have a training night.
- Give spare keys to your trusted neighbors.
- Show your children where the utility shutoffs are and how to shut them off.
- Keep your car's gas tank at least half full.
- Familiarize your children with emergency preparedness products by going through your home emergency kit.
16 Reasons why you should prepare for the unexpected:
- PetsYour pets are important members of the family, so be sure to include them in your disaster preparedness plan. You’ll need an evacuation strategy, and every pet should have proper ID tags in case it becomes separated from the family.
- Earthquakes It may surprise you to learn that earthquakes have occurred in nearly all 50 states. Seismic activity can disrupt communities and displace families for weeks.
- Terrorist attack The Oklahoma City bombing and attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon changed our lives forever. Terrorists strike without warning, so every family must have a terrorism preparedness plan. You could be affected by a Cyber, dirty bomb, chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack.
- Floods Virtually every community in the United States has endured floods after severe rain and thunderstorms. Never underestimate how quickly waters can rise.
- Fires Fire is the fourth-leading cause of accidental death in the United States and the disaster families are most likely to experience. Flames can engulf an entire home in a matter of minutes.
- Hurricanes You might call 2004 the “Year of the Hurricane,” as the number of tropical storms broke a 100-year-old record. More than 600,000 square miles of land were affected—and experts expect a “whirlwind” 2005.
- Mudslides As heavy rains saturate hillsides, the risk of mudslides, mudflows and landslides rises nationwide. Slides can occur in any state, and they cause an estimated $2 billion in damages and 25–50 deaths each year.
- Nuclear power plants/ Nuclear attack/Dirty bomb Accidents at nuclear power plants and the threat of nuclear attack have been on every American’s mind since Sept. 11. Knowing how to deal with a radiation-related emergency is crucial.
- Wildfires Urban sprawl has prompted builders to develop residential communities in previously uninhabited areas. An errant spark in surrounding brush can ignite wildfires that threaten hundreds of homes and thousands of acres. Texas is currently battling over 60 separate wildfires that have burned downed hundreds of homes and residential neighborhoods.
- Thunderstorms Thunderstorms can be particularly frightening when they’re accompanied by heavy rain, hail, lightning, strong winds, flooding and tornadoes—and conditions can change rapidly.
- Tornados Twisters can wipe out entire towns within minutes. If you live in a tornado-prone state, you also need to prepare for the severe weather that can accompany them.
- Volcanoes Volcanoes are not limited to Hawaii. (Remember Mount St. Helens in Washington?) The United States ranks third among nations with active volcanoes, and 10% of eruptions over the last 10,000 years have occurred here.
- Droughts If you live in an area plagued by drought conditions, it’s critical to take steps to protect community water supplies. Learn how to conserve water when performing routine household tasks.
- Tsunamis As the recent Indonesian tsunami demonstrated, a powerful earthquake can propel tidal waves hundreds of miles into dry land. While tsunamis are rare, all states with coastlines are at potential risk.
- Blackout and power outages As the United States copes with energy crises, the federal government anticipates an increase in blackouts and power outages—particularly when demand for electricity peaks. The nationwide power grid is all connected and is also vulnerable to terrorist attack.
- Winter storms Many of us underestimate the brute force and potential lethality of winter storms, which can cripple communities of all sizes. Preparedness is the key to surviving a blizzard or noreaster.
It is important to think ahead and communicate with others in advance. By following these guidelines you will be better prepared to safely reunite with loved ones during an emergency.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association For Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the online Spy novel series, "Corey Pearson, CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean." His ideas are his own and do not represent those of any organization he's a member of.