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Emergency Preparedness: Not as Hard as You Think
Let's talk emergency preparedness a little bit since this is National Emergency Preparedness Month. Do you tune out when talk of preparing for an emergency comes up? Chances are you do. According to a 2009 FEMA Citizen Corps survey, almost half of the Americans surveyed didn't have supplies set aside for an emergency, and the majority didn't have an established household emergency plan. If you're one of those that isn't prepared, you might not think you need to, but consider these statistics from ReliefWeb and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners:
- Economic damages from natural disasters were the highest ever registered in 2011, with an estimated US$366.1 billion.
- Among the top 10 countries in terms of disaster mortality in 2011, seven countries are classified as high-income or upper-middle income economies.
- Over the last decade, the United States, China, the Philippines, India, and Indonesia constitute together the top 5 countries that are most frequently hit by natural disasters.
- Nearly half of all Americans surveyed—48 percent—said they did not have an inventory of their possessions. Of those consumers who reported having a checklist, 32 percent had not taken any pictures and 58 percent had no receipts validating the cost of their possessions. In addition, 44 percent of respondents acknowledged that they had not stored their inventory in a remote location.
No matter where you live, chances are you will have to deal with a disaster of some sort in your lifetime. Preparing for it is absolutely essential. You don't have to go overboard, but you do need to do something.
National Preparedness Month
National Preparedness Month is held in September in response to the events of 9/11, so that, as we remember that horrible anniversary, we also think of ways, as a country, to avoid other terrorist incidents and to prepare ourselves, as families, should one happen or should a natural disaster occur. You probably already know the basic components of emergency preparedness: a 72-hour kit, long-term food storage, a household inventory, and a household emergency plan. You just need to know where to start, and how to pace it so that you're not overwhelmed. Here's what I've done with my family, and what I suggest:
Steps to Being Prepared:
- Do one thing a week.
- Start with your family's Emergency Plan. This can be done in an evening as you fill out this document together.
- The following week, start your family's 72-hour kit. Buy or find a good, big, sturdy backpack at your local thrift store. Fill the backpack with these contents one-by-one or two-by-two each week. Then, save your gallon plastic milk containers. Fill them with enough water so each member of your family has at least 3 gallons.
- When you're done with The Plan and The Backpack, do a household inventory. eHow has good instructions on how to do it, as do most home insurance companies. You'll need this in the case of not only natural disasters but also burglary, etc.
- Lastly, work on your long-term food storage. This will come in handy both in the case of drawn-out isolation or quarantine, as well as long unemployment. There are many places, Costco included, that sell food storage kits, if you want to get it all done with at once and don't mind spending a pretty penny. You can also, of course, buy things piecemeal, or start canning. Personally, I think canning is a lost art and a fabulous way to be self-sufficient, "crafty," and prepared, but that's the topic of a whole other post.
As I talked about here, preparing for an emergency is one of the best things you can do to give you and your family peace of mind. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!
What have you done to prepare your family for an emergency? What has worked best for you, and what challenges do you face?