The world has become a turbulent place as of late. Tornadoes, earthquakes, cyclones, and pandemics seem to rear their ugly heads almost on a daily basis, with increasingly deadly results. And we haven’t even gotten into manmade dangers like collapsing cranes or terrorist attacks. As devastating as these events can be, they only get worse when disaster victims lack basic disaster know-how. If there is one thing we learned from Hurricane Katrina, it is that we cannot rely solely on the government to care for us in disasters. The responsibility ultimately falls on each of us.

Emergency Preparedness | Online Education

We often think of education as a way to enhance our careers. In a very real sense, however, getting educated about and prepared for disasters can save your life and the lives of those around you. Of course, then comes the response: “Disasters seem so unpredictable. How can I possibly prepare for everything?”

Luckily, you don’t have to. If you begin by imagining yourself in a scenario, like a flood or a pandemic, you quickly realize that there are some things that you will need in every scenario. You will notice that they revolve around basic human needs. Below is my list of five things to start with:

1. First Aid

There’s a reason why it’s called first aid. It has to come first. Threatening injuries have to be stabilized before food and shelter will do any good.

Research has found, unfortunately, that most U.S. households are deplorably unprepared to administer first aid. Most households have band aids, some Tylenol, and maybe rubbing alcohol. However, most are lacking in supplies to treat larger wounds like open wounds, burns, or broken bones. Relatively few have CPR training.

A little bit of first aid training can go a long way. In almost every community, classes on first aid and CPR are held regularly. Often, they are free of cost. Take the time to get some training. Also, do your research on what a real first aid kit consists of. This time spent will pay dividends in the event of a disaster.

2. Evacuation Plan

Generally, when bad things happen, people act out of instinct, and their first instinct is driven by panic and survival. The bad news is these instincts can often lead to bigger problems. In the event you need to get out of your current situation, you can really benefit from planning out where you will go, how you will get there, and where you will meet your loved ones.

Keep in mind, your evacuation plans may vary according to the emergency. In a fire, for instance, your first priority is to get out of the house. This differs from a tornado or windstorm, in which your first priority is to find cover from flying debris.

3. Water

The human body can’t survive more than three days without water. Because water is in such abundance in our lives of modern convenience, we often forget to prepare for situations in which we may not be able to get water or, at least, clean water. While water for cleaning dishes or bathing can be neglected in an emergency, Everyone needs to have an emergency supply of fresh, clean drinking water.

4. Food

Americans often take the availability of food for granted. Anytime, we need more, we can usually stop at the local grocery store and pick up what we need. For this very reason, few of us store large amounts of food in our houses. It is worth reminding, however, that our local grocery stores are designed to carry only three days worth of goods at any given time. Their inventory is replenished regularly by freight trucks shuttling goods around the country.

In the event of a major catastrophe, like a pandemic or a terrorist attack, this distribution system could easily come undone. If drivers were frightened of a pandemic, they might refuse to deliver goods to certain areas. Highways might be demolished in areas struck by an attack or an earthquake, preventing delivery of food items. Without new inventory, grocery stores would soon be emptied of their goods. People would be left with what they have in their houses. If they had very little, the outlook would be grim.

Emergency food storage is an important part of emergency preparedness. The best of these include non-perishable items from all of the basic food groups. Of primary importance are staples like rice, pasta, or flour. Having plenty of vegetables and fruits can help keep household members’ immune systems functioning. Also, while a 72-hour supply is a good start, you may want to expand to a three- or six-month supply. You can never anticipate how long these crises will stretch out; best err on the side of caution.

5. Shelter

With houses getting tossed by tornadoes and others crumbling in earthquakes, it isn’t difficult to anticipate possibly losing your house. If you were unlucky enough to lose your home, where would you stay? This is the primary question surrounding shelter.

You need a place to sleep and stay safe from the elements after a catastrophe. Hotels, houses of friends or relatives, or emergency shelters can provide a must needed respite from disaster conditions.

If these weren’t available, what would you use then? A tent? A motor home? An igloo? These are things you want to figure out before things go bad. Even having a simple dome tent may mean the difference between sleeping safe and dry or having a cold, wet night in the open.

Preparedness can make all the difference for you and your loved ones in a disaster. Learn more about how to prepare by visiting the federal government’s emergency preparedness site.

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5 comments on “Emergency Preparedness: Get Educated!

  • i need more information, which i am trying to find, to get a ma in emergency prepardedness. can you help? online universities are saying they offer that degree but when you get to the drop down menu there are no choices in that field. thank you.

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  • A note on the food preparations. Two important things to remember:
    #1. Practice preparing meals with your emergency food items so you know how to cook with them before the emergency.
    #2. Cycle through your emergency food supply so none goes bad. (Practicing cooking with the food will help you do this naturally)

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