Saturday, January 9, 2010

2: A Different Perspective on Preparedness

I try to avoid the temptation to define disaster in terms of the number of people affected. When it turns your life upside down, a disaster is 'major' even if it isn't news worthy. And it has occurred to me that one's confidence in being prepared for a wide spread disaster can produce a false sense of security and leave one vulnerable to a disaster of a more personal nature. A case in point would be the perfectly prepared Hurricane Disaster Kit, or box or bin, that goes up in flames with the rest of the house while you stand scantily clad and barefoot, watching helplessly in the night.
To my way of thinking, it's not so much what the emergency is, flood, earthquake, etc., as what effect the emergency has on the immediate household. And, that is tied directly to the home itself. So setting aside the possible scope of a disaster, consider answering these questions concerning your own home.

Would I be prepared:
  • if life could continue in the home even though disrupted?
  • if I had to make an immediate escape?
  • if my house, alone, were destroyed?
  • if the entire neighborhood or geographic area were in distress?
  • if the situation required a short 3 to 5 day evacuation?
  • If long term devastation kept me from returning home?
It's a matter of being prepared for all situations, of having confidence and ability and knowing when to stay put, when to walk away, when to run and when to never look back. That is the basis for my approach.

The series will break down like this:
  • Establishing priorities
  • Meeting adversity while in the home
  • Being prepared for immediate escape
  • Being prepared for short-term evacuation
  • Being prepared for long-term evacuation and/or relocation
  • Survival and living off the land
A few things to be taken into consideration, that will not be addressed here, include firearms and ammunition, riots, civil unrest and insurrection, long term power and satellite communication loss due to EMP (electromagnetic pulse) and declaration of Martial Law with the suspension of Constitutional rights. There are sources far more informed and reliable than I for information along these lines and I will gladly post a link or two.

In the meantime, my personal priorities line up like this:

  1. LIFE - people and pets
  2. HEALTH - physical and mental, requiring meds, medical records, food, water, clothing, shelter, light and security
  3. IDENTITY - blank checks, copies of bills, computer info (shred or destroy paper info)
  4. RECORDS - flash drive with and hard copies of: insurance information, credit cards, driver's licenses, union memberships, birth certificates, passports, immunization and medical records, address book, pet records, dd-214, computer hard drive, diplomas & important certificates, wills, tax records, account numbers, user names and passwords
  5. FINANCES - cash on hand, retirement accounts, precious metals, have 3 month buffer
  6. PHOTOGRAPHS & DOCUMENTS - on protected flash drive with hard copy documents and most important photos in safe deposit box
  7. IRREPLACEABLE ITEMS - list 1-10, ie: Mother's wedding dress that is being saved for daughter, etc.
Being prepared begins with knowledge, especially knowledge of self, priorities, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, needs and fears. Take a few days to think. Make a list of personal priorities. Wander through the rooms of your home and identify those things you simply cannot live without, the ones that would hurt your heart to lose and those of great monetary value like heirloom jewelery. While you're at it, take a camera or cell phone and document your belongings for insurance purposes. A disc or actual photographs secured in a safe deposit box or with a family member will go a long way toward expediting an insurance claim.

The next post in the series will detail preparation to deal with adversity and emergencies that do not require leaving home.

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