By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer and Disaster Action Team member
One of the most often heard phrases during and after a disaster is “If I had only thought to (insert any of the following suggestions), I wouldn’t be in this mess now.” This is known as the “could of – should of” syndrome. You knew you could have prepared. You knew you should have prepared. But you didn’t.
Well, this September is your chance to get it done. The American Red Cross offers some helpful tips. All you need to do is follow through.
As we consider all the natural disasters that could strike, there are some basics that will apply across the board to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, etc.
- Don’t wait until the day of a disaster to think about what to pack. Be prepared if you need to evacuate. Make a list of “must have” items right now and keep it somewhere handy.
- Have a family plan for a meeting place in case some family members are not home when you have to evacuate. In case someone comes looking for you, leave written instructions in the home as to where you went.
- Pack enough for 72 hours at least. Pack the following items in an easy-to-carry container: a gallon of water per person, per day; non-perishable food; flashlight and hand-crank or battery-powered radio; extra batteries; sanitation and personal hygiene items; copies of important papers; extra cash; and any medical or baby supplies family members may need. Plan for your pets as well. Additional suggestions here. Even more suggestions here.
- Fill your car with gas. Never let it go below a half tank when threatening weather exists.
- Pay attention to officials and evacuate when suggested. Those who linger are the ones who find themselves in trouble.
- The American Red Cross has multiple apps for iOS and Android with directions to local shelters, emergency first aid instructions and weather-related specifics. Download them to your phone now in case your wireless goes out later.
- Simulate an emergency some weekend. Make sure your “Go Kit” fits in the car and spend a night away somewhere. Make a list of those things you wish you had included.
- When you get home, make the changes and you’ll be ready in the event an emergency occurs.
- Share your experience with other family and friends who don’t live with you.
Congratulations! You’ve just avoided the “could of – should of” syndrome and your family will be ready should an emergency strike.
Having worked in many emergency shelters, I know that those who were prepared are much better able to deal with the inconvenience of leaving their homes. Forgetting your wallet, your glasses or your medications just make the experience twice as stressful.
To learn more about how the Red Cross helps in emergencies, see these local and national articles. After you learn all that Red Cross does, hopefully you’ll want to make a donation.