In a crisis like the Haiti earthquake in 2010, or even the Japanese tsunami last year, emergency preparedness kits can mean the difference between life or death. It's that simple. The hours, days, and weeks following a disaster can be some of the most critical for rescuing people stuck in trapped buildings or suffering from injuries. Emergency preparedness survival planning will mean that you can be one of those offering help to others, rather than one of those in need of help.
Emergency Preparedness Kits: A Good Idea No Matter Where You Live
A lot of people think that as long as they don't live someplace like California (where earthquakes are a part of life) that they're not at risk for a disaster. That kind of attitude overlooks the world we live in today, however - a world where any of the following could strike - anywhere.
- Disease Epidemic (Before you dismiss this possibility, remember the Swine Flu Panic in 2009?)
- Fire (either in the home or wildfire)
Although the type of hazards to be prepared for may vary from location to location, putting together an emergency preparedness plan is itself an important first step.
Emergency Preparedness Kits On The Road
Nor is the home the only place at risk. With more than 250 million registered vehicles on the road in the U.S. in 2007, the chances are good that at some point you will be involved in some sort of automobile accident in your lifetime. Keeping one of your emergency preparedness kits tucked away in your car, especially with basic first aid supplies, is a good idea because you never know what kind of injuries you may encounter on the road. In addition, items like a blanket, flashlight, and flares are good additions to your mobile emergency preparedness checklist in case your car breaks down in a remote area.
Crazy Survival Cults
You’re probably thinking, "Aren't those crazy cults that think the world is going to end on Tuesday the only people who make emergency preparedness kits?" The answer is a most emphatic no. There are plenty of reasonable people, people who go to work everyday and have three kids, who believe that it's a good idea to prepare for a potential emergency. However, some statistics put the number of Americans who've taken the time to prepare emergency supplies of any type at less than 12%, while the number of Americans who have done nothing is an astounding 20%!
Communication: An Important Part Of Emergency Preparedness Kits
Having an emergency preparedness plan for your family will ensure that following the disaster, everyone will know how to contact the other members to let them know where they are. Having an out-of-town family member serve as the central contact and giving their information to each member is a good way to approach this. In addition, it helps to consider all the places each person spends time at each day, and find out where their designated evacuation center is in case of an emergency. Other numbers to include in all emergency preparedness kits may be a doctor's or pharmacist's phone number; your medical insurance company's phone number; and of course, your homeowner's insurance phone number.
Home Emergency Preparedness Survival Tip
One thing many people forget to plan for is turning off utilities following a disaster such as an earthquake. More damage was actually caused by explosions and fires following the 1989 San Francisco earthquake than in the quake itself - for this exact reason. Because a large quake can break gas lines and create a hazardous situation very quickly, you should be sure you know how to turn off the gas ahead of time. Teach the other members of the household how to turn it off as well, and include any necessary tools for turning off the gas in your home and work emergency preparedness kits.
Frequently Asked Questions: Emergency Preparedness Kits
Q: What kinds of things do people put in their emergency preparedness kits?
A: Some things are universal needs following a disaster: shelter, clean water, medical supplies, food. Other needs may be more specific: children, language differences, disabled adults, and/or pets may all have special needs you should prepare for.
Q: What resources are available to help me plan for an emergency?
A: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has put together an excellent emergency preparedness checklist for those who want to make sure they cover all the bases. The American Red Cross is another great resource for knowing which supplies to include in any emergency preparedness kits.
Q: How will I know what emergency services are doing to help me in an actual emergency?
A: Getting information can be very difficult in a disaster, which is why it's always a good idea to include a battery-powered or hand-powered radio in your emergency supplies. Many people also choose to include an inexpensive cell phone and car charger in their emergency preparedness kits as well.