Do you make New Year's resolutions each year? Do you keep them? According to a study carried out by the University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans usually make resolutions, but only 8% are successful in fulfilling their resolutions. The Journal concludes that “people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.”
Successful resolutions are unambiguous. And realistic. One of the keys to success is to break your resolutions into smaller, obtainable and realistic goals with measurable outcomes and a deadline. For instance, if your resolution is to lose weight, make it specific. Resolve to lose five pounds or ten pounds by a specific date. The Journal listed the Top Ten Resolutions for 2012. They included all the usual suspects: losing weight, getting organized, spending less/saving more, enjoying life to the fullest, staying fit and healthy, learning something exciting, quitting smoking, helping others with their dreams, falling in love, and spending more time with family. All excellent resolutions.
However, nowhere on that list was there any mention of becoming better prepared for disasters. This past year saw 11 billion dollar plus disasters including Hurricane Sandy (On Dec. 28, the U.S. Senate approved a $60.4 billion hurricane recovery package for reconstruction costs) and the Midwest drought, not to mention several high profile man-made incidents including the Aurora theater shooting and the Sandy Hook massacre. According to estimates by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2012 saw seven severe weather/tornado events, two tropical storm/hurricane events, and the yearlong drought and associated wildfires.
While these incidents provoked national conversations on everything from gun control to mental health issues to the government’s role in recovery, little was mentioned of the need for us to become responsible for our own safety by becoming better prepared for disasters. As climate change creates more frequent and intense weather events, it becomes ever more important to realize that we are all responsible for doing as much as we can to prepare for, mitigate against, respond to and recover from disasters. There are many ways we can contribute to our own safety and the safety of our families. Making an explicit, unambiguous resolution to better prepare for disasters is the first step. Here are some things we can do to fulfill such a resolution:
• Incrementally build a family preparedness kit that adds a little at a time to it throughout the year. Include three days worth of water and non-perishable food items, radio, batteries, flashlight, first aid kit, blankets, clothes, shoes, prescription medications, and any other items your family would need to survive three days.
• Have family drills for fire and any other local risk you may face, making sure to remember your plans for meeting up and letting each other know you are safe.
• Get a fire resistant safe, or a safe deposit box, and keep your very important papers in it, such as passports, social security cards, birth certificates, etc. Ditto for precious family photos, wills and financial papers.
• Learn how to shut off your utilities.
• Make sure small children know vital pieces of information, such as their entire name, parent's names, address and phone number.
• Know your local risks (tornado, earthquake, tsunami, zombie attacks, etc.)
• Keep a list of emergency numbers, including plumbing, electrical, roofers, and property damage restoration.
• Take a CPR class from your local Red Cross.
• Get involved in your local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). CERTs are neighborhood groups trained in search and rescue techniques, triage and such basic medical needs, such as cuts, breaks, shock and internal injuries. They are the first responders until the first responders arrive, which in a widespread disaster, may be three to five days.
• Make sure you know all evacuation routes out of your home, and out of your city.
• Inquire about your child's daycare or school emergency preparedness plan; if they don't have one, consider volunteering to help them develop it.
• Purchase a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Don't feel overwhelmed. Believe in your ability to succeed, and to make a potentially catastrophic situation better through preparedness. Remember; small, realistic and obtainable goals with measurable outcomes and a deadline. Make your New Year’s resolution count.