Disaster preparedness and recovery are evergreen topics that have eternal relevance in the enterprise world. The same can be said of their importance on a personal level. Disasters have the potential to affect us in a big way, both immediately and over the long haul. Knowing what to do before, during, and after an emergency is knowledge that can help you tough out the most grueling of unpredictable circumstances.
1. Assemble an Emergency Kit
Crazy storms, floods, or blackouts could leave you in a situation where you’re unable to reach food, money or family. An emergency kit packed with water, non-perishable food, flashlights, first aid supplies, and other items is vital in these scenarios. A well-crafted kit can make it much easier to cope in the event that you’re stranded or help can’t reach you in timely fashion.
2. Protect Essential Documents
When the world seems to be crumbling around you, the last thing on your mind is things like personal ID, birth certificates, and social security cards. That’s why you plan ahead. Make copies of all your important documents and package them in a format that’s easy to tuck into an emergency kit or fireproof safe.
3. Tap Into Your Inner MacGyver to Create Light
The smallest flicker of light can make a huge difference in an emergency. A crayon makes a serviceable candle when breaking off the tip and lighting the paper. Believe it or not, you can also create a candle that literally burns for hours using a stick of butter, tissue, and a toothpick. A lighter or matches helps as well.
4. Plan for Contact
I’m ashamed to admit that I only know four phone numbers by heart. Darn cell phone era! You may not be able to count on your smartphone for one-touch access to help, so keep a list of emergency contacts easily accessible in the event that you can reach another phone. Both kids and parents should have contact info for friends or family if their cell phones aren’t handy.
5. Don’t Brave a Blizzard
Blizzards can get downright nasty – to the point where driving through one is no longer an option. While you may be tempted to walk to the nearest gas station or another location for help, the best thing you can do is wait it out. Remember to only run your car for ten to twenty minutes per hour to conserve gas, and insulate yourself with whatever items you have available to keep warm. Be smart, stay calm, and your vehicle will provide adequate protection even if you have to camp out overnight.
6. Love Thy Neighbor
Your neighbors can be a big help to you and vice versa when disaster strikes. Unless you live on your own island, it’s a good idea to make plans with neighbors regarding contacts, sharing equipment, and other topics that may be pertinent to a disastrous situation. The pooling of knowledge, skills, and resources amongst neighbors can provide advantages that help both families hold it together during tough times.
7. Keep Your Car Emergency-Ready
No one longs for the days of 99 cent a gallon gas like El Cheapo here – still, if your car is capable, it should be filled with enough fuel to help you dodge danger. In addition to keeping as near a full tank as possible, keep all your vital fluids at their recommended levels, a spare tire in the trunk, and a pair of jumper cables handy. You also may want to keep a scaled down version of your emergency kit inside.
8. Plan for Pets
Some people look at their pets like members of the family. If you’re one of them, you should build a plan around keeping them safe during a disaster. Making sure they always wear ID tags with all the pertinent contact details, identifying kennels and other locations that offer shelter, and even devising a viable evacuation plan to quickly remove them from a dangerous situation are a few ideas that might help.
9. Get the Most from Your Phone
In the event that you do have access to your cell phone, it helps to know how to use it in a disastrous situation. One basic thing experts recommend you do is add ICE, short for In Case of Emergency, next to designated emergency contacts so those trying to assist you know who to call first. Providing access to medical information or guiding you to safety via GPS are other examples of how your phone can literally be a lifesaver.
10. Make Financial Plans
Whether you run a flourishing small business or work the late shift at the local pub, everyone can benefit from a disaster recovery strategy. For many of us, this breaks down to finances. The need to make a living makes it tough, but try to save enough money (preferably some cash) to help you through, or bounce back from a disaster. These funds might prove handy for investing in temporary housing, transportation, and other items to accommodate immediate or future needs.
Disasters tend to come out of nowhere, so it’s virtually impossible to fully prepare for the chaos they throw in your lap. On a brighter side, you can greatly improve your chances of survival, comfort, and sanity by creating a thorough emergency plan.
Remember, September is disaster preparedness month, be sure to check out some of our disaster preparedness posts.
Top Photo Credit: Emergency Info BC via Flickr