Saturday, September 14, 2013

Emergency Preparedness, Evacuations and Survival

In this world we live in, we like to believe that we can outsmart and outrun Mother Nature. We cant.

Here in Colorado, we are being reminded of that yet again.

No matter where you live in the world, there are always risks of natural disasters. In some areas, those risks come in multiple forms, from different places. Some disasters are more easy to prepare for, others are almost impossible.

Instead of believing that it won't happen to you, assume that it will. Do what you can to protect yourself, your family, your home, your pets and your belongings.

What you need to do will obviously be dictated by the specific threats in your area.  If you are coastal and need to worry about storm surges, how you prepare your home will be different than if you are in the foothills and worry about wildfires.

Sometimes all the defensible space in the world won't stop a fire. Sometimes all the boards and sandbags won't stop the water. Sometimes the most sophisticated storm shelters won't stop a tornado. Sometimes building codes won't stop an earthquake.

Respect the power of nature. Prepare for what you can, but also be prepared in the event that you can't protect your house.

Prepare to evacuate. Keep a mental list of absolute essentials that you would take. You should be able to grab them within a few minutes or less.

More than anything, though, prepare your family.

- Keep supplies of water and shelf stable food on hand at all times.

- Keep extra blankets, ponchos, shoes and coats on hand.

- Have at least one radio that doesn't require electricity (we have a hand crank radio/flashlight).

- Always have an ample supply of flashlights and batteries.

- Keep essential medications in the same place so they can be easily located.

- Practice safety drills, how to evacuate your home, where to seek shelter both indoors and out.

- Designate a meeting place with all members of your family if you get separated.

- Keep crates and kennels, cages and leashes for all pets in your household. Keep extra food as well.

- Know where your water, power and gas shut offs are located.

- If the water supply is in question, fill containers before the supply is shut off.

- If you lose power, conserve the cooling effect of your refrigerator as long as possible by not opening it unless absolutely necessary. If the food warms to over 40 degrees for more than two hours, throw it away.

- Respect and follow all instructions by emergency officials. If you are told to evacuate, go. Staying too long does not just endanger you, it endangers the emergency officials and diverts resources.

- Stay out of the way of emergency workers. Stay off emergency phone lines unless you have a legitimate emergency. Let them do their jobs.

- Stay safe. Be smart. Be aware. Stay prepared.

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