In today’s dynamic times, where everything can be easily accessed and purchased, imagine a situation where you are suddenly cut-off from everything like mode of communication, the internet, or the ability to move and purchase things freely. Scary isn’t it. Well, this could be a real-life scenario in case a disaster occurs. And this one of the primary reasons why you should be prepared to handle any emergency and unforeseen situation.
Disasters and emergencies are exigent; they come without warning leaving thousands of people helpless and unable to cope with the disastrous situation. While one cannot always predict the occurrence of a natural or manmade disaster, one can minimize its impact by preparing for emergencies that may occur due to the disaster.
Being well prepared and ready for any contingencies is half the battle won, and leads to better self-confidence and ability to manage the crisis.
What are the things that one should be prepared for?
Disasters can be both manmade and natural, so one should consider both these situations. If one lives near the oceans and seas, one could account for water-related disasters while those staying near forests could look at the possibility of a wildfire occurring near their community.
To give you a better perspective of the potential hazards and damages during an emergency, we have put down a list of the possible emergencies and how one can plan for and cope with them, efficiently to reduce the risk of damage and human life, while being able to recover from it as quickly as possible.
One of the natural disasters that happen totally without warning, earthquakes can lead to a lot of devastation wherever they occur. If we take statistics into consideration, then as per The National Earthquake Information Center now locates about 20,000 earthquakes every year. All these earthquakes are not disastrous, but the ones that are can prove to be extremely dangerous.
Earthquakes are caused by the sudden, rapid, and unpredictable shaking of the ground due to the shifting of the tectonic plates deep underneath the earth’s surface.
Earthquakes are a very high potential disaster as not only do they cause damage to people’s homes, roads, and ground surfaces but also lead to other disasters such as fires, tsunamis, landslides, and avalanches.
While dealing with an earthquake emergency, one also needs to account for the aftershocks, which can be equally powerful and damage caused. Most of the injuries caused during earthquakes occur, due to falling objects so one can prevent the same by ensuring there are no loose objects kept in high places and that things are properly secured to the walls and ceiling.
To keep your house safe from the possibility of falling objects, it is also suggested to do a thorough assessment of the inventory of your house so that you can plan the placement of each element such that in case of an earthquake, these products are not damaged or can prove accidental to the residents. Preparing an inventory will also help you know where to look for a particular object and where it has been stored for easy access when there is confusion all around.
One of the foremost things you should do, while planning the emergency measures for an earthquake is to develop an emergency communication plan that the family members can use to communicate with each other and let the others know that they are safe from harm, especially if they are not at home during the earthquake.
A pre-decided signal or mark can be a great way to communicate, especially if all the communication and mobile networks are down, which is what usually happens in an earthquake. Family members can also decide to meet at a certain point after a certain number of hours or days so that it gives them adequate time to reach there.
Create an earthquake emergency kit that has all the basic essential items you may need to survive for at least a week, till any official or local help arrives.
Apart from high energy foodstuffs like chocolate and peanut bars and water, the kit should also contain batteries for your mobiles, power bank, a torch with spare batteries, multi tool and all the essential medicines that a family usually needs along with a first aid kit. You can also invest in good quality survival backpack that will come handy in case of any emergency inclusive of the earthquake.
A portable battery-operated radio, cash, and credit cards should also be a part of the kit to help you communicate and travel, in case the need arises.
At the community level, one could conduct meetings with the other members on how to prepare for emergencies and the drill to be followed during an earthquake, decide common meeting points and share the numbers of all local emergency services like fire stations, water supply & power utilities, hospitals and the local Red Cross office.
People in the community should also take part in interactive sessions on how to conduct first-aid in an emergency and shut off all the public utilities such as gas, power, and water. An SOP can also be prepared on assisting children, senior citizens, and those with limited physical movements.
During an earthquake, it is advisable to find shelter as soon as possible, preferably under a table or any other piece of sturdy furniture till the shaking stops. If you are hiding under a table, then make sure that it is made from hardwood such that it doesn’t break.
One should also look out for the aftershocks, as they can be equally dangerous. Make sure that you stay away from any glass objects and move out to open space as soon as the earthquake stops.
Famine is a disaster either natural or manmade, caused by the extreme shortage of food in a particular area or country. Its impact can be so severe that it can wipe out the entire city within a few weeks. While famines were common occurrences in the past, the possibility of one occurring in present times is extremely rare.
Famines usually occurred due to natural phenomena such as floods, heatwaves, drought, and even crop failure at a massive level. It can also happen due to reasons of war, biological or nuclear disasters. A famine is not a sudden one day or a few hours’ occurrences but something that builds up gradually and lasts for weeks and even months.
While third world countries are more prone to facing natural disasters like famine, it would still make sense to prepare for it in developed countries should a natural calamity or sudden act of war cause a shortage of food resources and lack of transport facilities to transport food from other cities to the affected areas.
Most of the cities have their food reserve and budgets which they use in case of emergencies like famine till any official or local food aid arrives.
Unfortunately, at the first impending sign of disaster is that the people tend to rush to supermarkets and stores and stock up in large quantities on all the daily essentials. It leads to huge crowds and long lines outside the stores. In such a scenario, you can never be assured of getting what you want, even after waiting in line for many hours.
Act well in advance. You can stock food while preparing for an emergency like famine. Make sure you stock up on canned foods that have a long shelf life. Similarly, try and keep at least a week’s water reserves with you, stored in dark cans’ that are not exposed to sunlight.
Use a FIFO (First In, First Out) policy to rotate the foodstuff within your store, so that you don’t end up with stuff that is past its expiry date and cannot be used. A manual can opener would also be a good addition to your store, to help you with opening the cans in case of any power failure.
When you are stuck in an emergency, then you must use food judiciously. Try and plan your food stocks in such a way that is just opening 1 or 2 cans at a time is enough to provide a balanced and nutritious meal to your entire family, without any wastage. This way, your family will remain healthy, while also ensuring that the food stocks last to the maximum period.
Apart from storing your food reserves, make sure that you have the emergency contact numbers of all the relief organizations in your area and city so that you can communicate your status with them and receive timely aid from them.
Be prepared to share your food stocks with others who may have not been as careful as you in planning and storing food stocks. It is also suggested to have a backup store in another location, in case you are not able to access the food stocks in your home, for whatsoever reasons.
Remember that people can survive without food for 1-2 days but not more than a few hours without water, so always plan and store double the quantity of water you anticipate you may need for 1-2 weeks, till help arrives.
While staying near a forest or natural surroundings has its charm and beauty, but it also brings along with it the possibility of a wildfire, which can be very devastating. A wildfire or bushfire is an unplanned fire that usually occurs in dense forests, mountainous areas, and grasslands. The worst part is that it grows untamed and can prove to be devastating.
A wildfire can be caused by lightning, careless campers who may have left a fire burning. Due to winds and extremely hot conditions wildfires start spreading fast through bushes, trees, etc. and soon start enveloping entire forests and reaching human settlements.
While wildfire can be prevented by exercising extreme caution by humans, there is still a high probability of it occurring due to natural reasons. Since such reasons cannot be prevented, we should be prepared for them and foresee all measures to prevent damage to our property and life from wildfires.
To begin with, you can construct your house in a manner that it is able to provide you with complete protection. For example, there are bushfire shutters available in the market. Installing them is one of the ways to keep yourself safe.
The construction of the house is such that it is made with fire-resistant material, especially on the roof and ceiling. Using fire-retardant chemicals on the roof is also a good idea as it could stop the fire from spreading in your house.
You should ideally have a 30 to 100 ft. safety zone around your house that should protect it from the flames and extreme heat from a wildfire. Make sure that there are no combustible materials or dry leaves which could catch fire in this safety zone and ensure you rake all the dry leaves periodically to prevent their buildup.
There should ideally also be no overhanging branches close to your house or over your roof, to prevent the possibility of a fire spreading from it to your house. The major power & utility lines should be at a distance of 10-20 ft. from the house, to prevent any major damage to them from the fire, which could be fatal to the entire neighborhood.
Despite taking all the measures, there is a probability that the fire can impact your place aversely. In such a case, you must immediately vacate the place. Any delay in evacuating the area, when guided by them could lead to loss of human life along with your home.
Make sure that while you prepare for emergencies, you select a bag that you can easily carry in case of an evacuation call by the authorities. This emergency bag should ideally have clothes for 2-3 days, your medicines, power bars, spare batteries for your mobile, and cash to help you travel and buy anything you may require.
While evacuating your house, follow the route suggested by the authorities and ensure that you keep your house unlocked in case they need to access the same. Make sure you have back-up arrangements to stay for a couple of days with your family at either a friend’s place or the closest hotel.
While returning to your home after a fire, look out for glowing embers and fire hotspots as they could burn you or spark another fire. These heat pockets can also burn your pets, so take special care of them and avoid all the probable hot areas. Also keep a watch out for the fire restarting again, as that has been the case in some of the fires extinguished by authorities.
Make sure you mark yourself and your family members safe, on social media sites and with government bodies, so that people know you are safe and do not start sending out search parties for you, as that could be a waste of precious resources which could instead be used to fight the fire.
Similar to a wildfire, a flood can be very devastating and cause huge losses to both property and human life. Floods are caused by the temporary overflowing of huge volumes of water in low lying plains and dry areas. They can severely damage anything that comes in the way of the water as it flows and even uproots houses.
While the primary reasons for floods could be heavy rains and even cloud bursts, floods are also caused by coastal storms, the overflowing or breakage of dams, and other huge water storage systems. Depending on the volume of water and the ground conditions, the floodwater could be a couple of inches or even cover entire houses.
While some floods could take a couple of heavy rains hours to occur, there can also be flash floods which are sudden and happen without any warning. In such scenarios, it is advisable to reach a high ground as soon as possible. Walking or swimming across floodwater should ideally be avoided as even a foot of water can sweep you away downstream, so powerful is the force of rushing water.
Apart from damaging your property, a flood can also lead to food and drinking water shortages, power outages, and a crippling of the transport systems which could leave you stranded in one place for hours or days, till the floodwaters subside. Besides, it can also be the cause of various water-borne disease. Hence, preparing for the same is a must.
One of the first things that you must do while preparing for emergencies like a flood is to understand whether your locality lies in the low lying area. If yes, then there is a greater probability of water hitting your area. In such a case, you must seek professional advice and technical help in designing a house that could withstand the pressures of the floodwaters until suitable relief and aid arrive.
It is also advisable to store your precious belongings and adequate food stocks within the high areas of your house to prevent any damage to them, during flooding. Canned food and drinking water are the priority items that one should store adequately so that you are not affected by hunger and thirst until the waters recede.
Make sure you also have an emergency kit stored in a completely secure and watertight container, which can be easily accessed when required. The kit could have spare batteries, a torch, your important documents, and even cash to meet any unforeseen requirements during the emergency.
In case you don’t know what could be a part of the survival kit, you must consider buying a survival kit or backpack. These have all the essentials, right from the food to sleeping bags which can prove to be useful in case of any natural calamities like flood.
If such a situation arises, then you must consider evacuating the property in the first place, make sure that you do so only when advised by the local authorities and you must move to a safe place or the location as suggested by the local authorities.
On the first signs of a flood, the foremost thing you should do is turn off all the power and gas utilities as they may cause further damage to the surroundings and even human life.
Being aware of the local community emergency plan and attending the drill sessions will help you prepare for emergencies and avoid any unnecessary risk to your family and you.
Post a flood, go back to your house only after authorities have checked it out and found it safe enough to be occupied. Make sure you clean and disinfect everything before using it. Look out for any unexpected reptiles and snakes that may have come into your house through the floodwaters.
Do not also start the gas and power utilities until advised by the authorities to do so, as there may be cases of gas or power leakage, which could be disastrous for your home.
A well-prepared emergency plan will help you cope better with a flood situation and get things in order within a short period.
Of all the natural and manmade disasters which can be foreseen or planned for, the pandemic is the worst disaster as it has far-reaching consequences that are sometimes beyond human control. A pandemic is defined as a fatal, contagious disease that has spread over many countries and cities across the earth.
The speed and ease with which it can spread and how fatal it is defining the severity of the pandemic, which could infect millions of people within a short duration. Finding a medical solution to the infection and preventing its spread are the two areas that authorities focus on while dealing with a pandemic before it destroys anything it touches.
While human life is at risk during a pandemic, it also cripples nations and continents by having an adverse effect on its economy, transportation system, education systems, and employability. The supply and logistics systems for food items and other daily life essentials are also affected by a pandemic since there are restrictions on the movements of goods.
These travel restrictions could lead to a shortage of food and other daily essentials in some cities and areas triggering famine and protests by the people. A pandemic affects not only the people it infect, but also other people from different areas, who may not even be connected to the pandemic in any way.
Unlike other emergencies and natural disasters, an effort can be made to the spread of the pandemic by imposing lockdowns and restricting the movement of people from one place to another and the gathering of people in large numbers. These restrictions prevent the virus from spreading to other people and through them to other cities.
One of the foremost measures that authorities consider while preparing for emergencies and dealing with a pandemic is how to minimize human contact with each other while ensuring that there no disruptions in the supply chain of essential items.
At the individual level, people need to ensure they follow the guidelines issued by the local authorities from time-to-time and avoid crowding at public places. While there may be heavy crowding and lines to stock up during a pandemic, one can avoid the same by using online channels to order all the essentials.
People must avoid overstocking of food. It would be advisable to avoid last-minute stocking and always maintain adequate food stocks to last one for 2-3 months at a go.
Stick to the food that can be preserved and stored. Make sure that you have the stock of necessary medicines such that you don’t have to go out time and again. Adequate and sufficient water is also a must
To avoid unnecessary panic and depression due to the long seclusion required to avoid getting infected during a pandemic, one should only rely on official government channels for the correct information and updates regarding the pandemic. Unnecessary panicking could lead to taking steps that could be fatal in the long run.
Avoid going outdoors frequently and using public transport, so that you reduce your chances of getting infected during the pandemic. Outdoor movement restrictions may last a couple of weeks or months, leading to health issues due to lack of exercise, so make sure you follow a healthy and fit lifestyle and exercise within the safe confines of your house at periodic intervals.
In case of a pandemic or any such situation where you can get stuck at home, there is a greater probability that your mind gets cropped up by negativity. In such a case, you must practice exercising. It will not only keep you fit but also help improve your mood and keep negativity away from your mind so that you have a more positive approach towards the pandemic.
Remember a pandemic is a temporary phase and will soon be over, as numerous experts and authorities are working on curing it and resolving it as soon as possible. A cure is imminent but may take time so one should be mentally and physically prepared to hold out for long periods.
How to prepare for an emergency in your life?
Given the probable different scenarios one could be affected from, ranging from an earthquake to a pandemic, every individual no matter where he stays needs to have an emergency plan he can resort to and activate as required. While preparing for emergencies, one should account for the following factors:
1. Prepare an Emergency Kit
One of the first things that you must remember is that you cannot wait for the nth hour; rather, you must prepare the emergency kit well in advance. It is a much–needed for every household; it should be a ready–to–use kit which has a couple of clothing items, all the essential medicines, a first aid kit, a tool kit and enough money to help them travel and buy required essentials for a couple of days.
The emergency kit should also be easy to carry and move around with quickly, so that it does not hinder their journey in an emergency. Make sure that you store the kit in an easy to access, secure place that all the family members are aware of so that any one of them can pick it up and move out in an emergency.
2. Keep your important documents secure
Natural disasters often damage entire homes and surroundings, due to which one may also lose their important documents along with other valuables. While valuables could be replaced by insurance companies, lack of access to your insurance and other documents could slow and hinder the entire claim process.
Nowadays, with the advent of digital storage mediums, it is easy to store all your important documents securely online for easy access in an emergency, anywhere, anytime.
So while fire or flood could damage the physical copies of your documents or make them inaccessible, the digital copy of all your important documents stored online could help you regenerate all the documents post the emergency. This would help you with your claims and also get any government benefits and aid due to you, post the emergency.
3. Keep a handy list of all emergency numbers
It is important that you must have all the emergency numbers handy with you. Having a list of all emergency numbers that your family can access in an emergency will help you deal and seek aid in an emergency much easily. Make sure that all the people in your family including children are aware of the list so that anyone of them can dial them up and call for assistance, in case you are not in a condition to do so.
Numbers in the emergency list should be of the local authorities, neighbors, close friends and relatives along with the numbers of all government aid agencies and NGOs.
4. Plan for financial emergencies
One of the aftermaths of any emergency can be loss of employment, financial loss etc. In such a case, you must have fund sufficient enough for you to survive through the turbulent times.
This is a very important requirement while preparing for emergencies as you may need to rebuild your house after the natural disaster, and it could be some months before you receive any official financial aid.
Reasons why you should be prepared – Conclusion
Emergencies and disasters are uninvited, and the best way out in such a situation would be when you know how to get out of this crisis situation with ease. Being well prepared and stocking up on the required resources to deal with an emergency will help us get through it with minimal damage and discomfort.
To help the community prepare for an emergency one should organize monthly meetings on the different probable disasters and chalk out the measures to be adopted in case one occurs. Backups and reserves for all the facilities and public utilities should be planned, so that continuity and normalcy can be restored as soon as possible.
Drills and mock evacuations should also be conducted to ensure the people are aware of the procedures to be followed and what is expected from each of them during the emergency.
Following the above tips and guidelines will help you prepare for emergencies more effectively and be well prepared for the worst-case scenarios.