Are You Prepared? Short Term Planning

There have been many severe natural disasters in recent months. We’ve witnessed the utter destruction of the horrific earthquake in Haiti and then just this weekend a massive earthquake occurs off the coast of Chile, spurring fears of Tsunamis all across the Pacific Rim.

Hawaii woke residents with sirens, alerting them to the waves. A tsunami warning — the highest alert level — was issued earlier for the island chain. Boats and people near the coast were being evacuated. Hilo International Airport, located along the coast, was closed.

Residents lined up at supermarkets to stock up on water, canned food and batteries. Cars lined up 15 long at several gas stations. ~AP

When an emergency happens, do you really want to have to rush off to the supermarket, gas station or bank? What if you don’t get the warning that residents in Hawaii had? Personally I want to know that I have everything on hand to be able to evacuate immediately or be prepared to shelter in place until rescue crews have time to  get organised?

I’ve been extremely lucky to this point that I’ve not had to deal with any significant disruptions to any of the services that I rely on. It would be foolish however, to assume I will never experience disruptions. It’s easy to forget that if there is no electricity, there are no furnaces, air conditioners, gasoline pumps, ATM machines etc. Most municipal water treatment and waste removal services would soon shut down and emergency services would be limited. For those in extremely cold climates, pipes can freeze and burst within a day or two without a backup source of heat.

It makes sense to plan for significant disruptions in the flow of electricity, gas or goods which are almost inevitable at some point in our lives. Stocking up on a few extra supplies, learning some new skills and making a few emergency contingency plans doesn’t take much time or money and it’s cheap insurance. While we can’t plan for all possible scenarios it is prudent to plan for the most likely possibilities. Here are some questions to ask yourself during your planning:

  • What natural hazards are in my area? What is the likelihood of experiencing earthquake, flood, hurricane/cyclone or tornadoes?
  • Have I taken precautions to protect my home?
  • How long could I anticipate being without access to utilities and supplies?
  • If the electricity goes out for an extended period, how will I cook, heat and light my home?
  • Do I have supplies and training to deal with medical emergencies if medical help is unavailable?
  • If I must evacuate my home, do I have portable emergency supplies ready to take with me?
  • How many people do I want to store supplies for? What about friends, neighbors and relatives?
  • Do I have pets that I need to feed and care for?
  • Do I have children or elderly parents with special needs?
  • Do I require prescription medications I would need if the distribution systems went down for a period of time?

The following information on short-term planning is designed to help you prepare for emergencies when services are disrupted for periods of up to one week. Everyone should have enough food, water and emergency supplies to last at least 72 hours (3 days) and preferably two or more weeks.

  • Store at least one 72-hour emergency survival kit in or near your home and condensed versions in your cars. (I’m working on my own 72-hour kit at the moment. I’ll post what’s in my kit at a future date)
  • Determine a local meeting place with a large, open area where your household can gather if you are separated and do not have access to your home during emergencies.
  • Make sure all members of your family know how and where to shut off the water, gas and electricity for your home in the event of an emergency.
  • Stash spare keys to your vehicles somewhere on the vehicle and an additional supply of keys somewhere outside of your home (securely hidden).
  • Store at least a 2-week supply of food for your household.
  • Store a combination of water, water treatment chemicals and water purifying filters to provide for your household for at least two weeks.
  • Keep a survival kits in each car with a first aid kit, spare clothing and water filter, if not a full 72-hour kit.
  • Get proper first aid and CPR training for all members of the family.
  • Arrange for an out-of -state emergency contact to reach for co-ordination and communication. It may be easier to call long distance after an emergency  than trying to locate your family  if separated.
  • Locate your nearest emergency shelter. Practice the route to the shelter.
  • Ensure you have smoke detectors in your home. Change the batteries at least once per year.
  • Store important papers in one easily accessible location, preferably in a waterproof and flameproof box.
  • Discuss your emergency preparedness plan with all members of the household. Keep the discussion light and positive.

Photo by: millzero


  1. Great post. Having lived in South Florida for over 20 years we experienced a few hurricanes. The last one was the worst, leaving the entire county without power for a week (some longer). South Florida is a miserable place in August with no air conditioning. We were prepared though and that made our week much easier.
    Thanks for the reminder though. I think there are a couple of things I need to stock up on.

  2. Perhaps one of the most important things is “mental preparedness”. There were stories from the bushfires in Victoria (Australia) last year, of people who had all of the physical preparations in place (including in one case an underground shelter) who died anyway, because when the time came they failed to react appropriately.

    This puts me in mind of the general problem that our population has with issues like Peak Oil. We are all aware of them at some level, but very few people are actually prepared mentally to deal with them when the crunch comes. Even when it is a bushfire that is literally about to burn them to death.

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