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Emergency Preparedness

checklist-911840_1280Last week we discussed having a Crisis Budget in place in case of losing spending power, income reduction or job loss.  This week I’d like to draw our attention to a different type of emergency, one that requires more than pen and paper to be done correctly.  I’m talking about Emergency Preparedness.  

Emergency preparedness refers to having ourselves and our homes prepared in the event of a major disaster which would leave us without clean water to drink, power outages which might prevent us from staying warm (or cooled, depending on the season and climate) as well as making sure we are stocked with necessary items, either in a safe place within our home or in a weather-proof backpack should we need to evacuate.  

Preparing your family for a natural disaster requires studying and answering some difficult questions.  For example, if you had to evacuate, what would you take with you?  If you couldn’t evacuate, what would you need to have in your home to survive until help arrived on the scene?  Can you survive without power or will you need the help of a generator for a period of time?  Do you live in an area where it may take a week or more before you get any help?  How do you let friends and family know you are ok? How do you reach out if you need someone to send help?  We need to be prepared on the home front in the event of a natural disaster.  Thankfully, there are numerous websites and resources through our local city government agencies to assist us with these preparations.  

When planning for emergencies, we need to think about having to evacuate our home and making sure we have our bags packed with important survival items that are small and portable enough to take on the road.  On the other hand, we also need to consider what we should have stocked and ready on the home front in case we can’t leave our home and need to stay put for a period of time.

Let’s look at the evacuation scenario first. Initially, make a checklist of the practical things that you will need for survival such as water bottles and a filtering device or tablets to ensure clean water.  Clothing should be practical for your climate, but durable for extended wear and precarious weather conditions.  Food items should be portable, but able to deliver maximum nutrition.  Protein bars, peanut butter, crackers, and various types of energy bars would be excellent in this situation.  Small gadgets such as a pocketknife, a flashlight, matches or a lighter, and a portable radio are all lightweight and necessary to have on hand.  We have found wind-up radios and flashlights, which are ideal since it eliminates the added weight of carrying extra batteries.  Hygiene is equally important and a well-stocked first aid kit should be in someone’s bag at all times.  Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide can serve multiple uses and each person can carry their own supply.  

Along with personal items, it is imperative to have copies of important documents with you and stored in something weatherproof to protect them.  Copies of birth certificates, social security cards, insurance cards, and immunization records are important for medical care and identification.  All medications will need to come along as well as the prescription information.  Banking machines are not likely to be working or might be empty so having cash on hand is equally as important as your documents. The smaller denominations such as singles, fives and a few tens are recommended.  

What if the emergency or natural disaster has us trapped inside our homes?  Our home supply list will look similar to our evacuation supply list, with the exception that we can store more of it because we won’t have to worry about transporting it.  What additional supplies might we need to keep in our homes to keep ourselves safe until help arrives?  

Where we live, flooding is a huge problem.  Due to the lack of rain in the desert, the ground is so hard that, when it does rain, the ground can’t absorb the water fast enough.  During the summer months, monsoons bring on extremely high winds and more rain than at any other time of the year.  Therefore, the fire departments have started offering burlap sacks for free to homeowners, which we can fill with sand in order to build barriers around the foundation and doorways of our home to hopefully prevent the water from seeping into the house.  

The rains also tend to bring out the scorpions for some reason so we also have black lights in our Emergency kit so we can scan for them (scorpions glow under the black light making them easier to find).  The last thing we want is to have someone stung by a scorpion and not have access to medical attention.  If there are special situations like this in your area, make sure to address those and prepare for them appropriately.

Since the potential for disaster to strike in the Southwest is in the hot summer months, it is important for us to have a generator for connecting fans or a portable room air conditioner in order to keep us cool during the storms.  In the northern parts of the country, the debilitating storms tend to happen more often in the winter months when people need to stay warm.  A generator might not be at the top of a northerner’s list, but a wood-burning stove or fireplace along with plenty of wood for fuel should be a top priority as well as heavy blankets and garments to protect one’s extremities from frostbite.

This is a relatively short list and more emergency preparation tips can be found on the CDC’s website at cdc.gov.

The point is not to sit around wringing your hands because there is a potential disaster looming. The point is to do a reasonable evaluation of the risks that may arise (hurricane, snow storm, earthquake, floods, windstorm, etc.) and plan for it.

Think about some crises in the Bible:

  • His brothers sold Joseph into slavery
  • In a few hours, Job lost everything – his children, all of his financial resources, even his health
  • Moses was caught between the Red Sea and the most powerful army in the world
  • Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den
  • Paul was beaten, stoned and left for dead.

But in each of these cases, the Lord used the situation for ultimate good.

“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” ~James 1:2-3

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