September is National Preparedness month, but whether it's September or not there's no time like the present to work on better preparedness.
The National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University found through a 2015 study that two-thirds of Americans are not prepared for an emergency. The center’s director, Irwin Redlener, thinks the actual numbers are far lower. At presentations to groups of emergency preparedness specialists he’ll ask how many have personal or family emergency plans. Of the few who raise their hands, most of those have “half-baked” plans. (Will growing scenes of hurricanes, wildfires and volcanoes make us a go-bag people?)
While I haven’t done any official polling, my own experience and observation is most Americans see the importance in preparing for emergencies, but the majority have virtually no preparations. Of the few who claim to be prepared, most are actually under-prepared. I believe those who are truly prepared for a disaster or emergency situation are less than ten percent of the population.
Why Aren't More People Better Prepared?
There are various reasons--excuses--to not be prepared, but those are a topic to be discussed later.
For those who want to be prepared, with all of the possible disasters and scenarios to prepare for, it can feel overwhelming and our tendency is to not do anything.
In my case, with small children and feeling overwhelmed--trying to be a good husband and father, while also taking classes at the university and working full-time--it was easy to just put off preparations.
But I finally decided I need to do something. Now, we’re much better prepared for emergencies. And, our children are learning. We’re not obsessed with “prepping” although preparation is a common enough topic of conversation and consideration. We don’t want to be one of those caught unaware and unprepared when a disaster strikes.
One thing I’ve learned is preparation is a mind-set. Not an obsession, but a regular evaluation of what your situation is and what might be needed in the event of an emergency. Preparing is not a “one-time-and-you’re-done” action.
The other thing I’ve learned is continual, little efforts make a big change over time. For us, it was not possible to become immediately prepared. But, with little purchases and actions over a few years, we are now better prepared for emergencies in our home, vehicles, and at work.
You should be aware that earthquakes involves a lot more than just the ground shaking and the potential for buildings to fall. Because earthquakes contribute to a wide variety of other potential hazards and disasters, the good news is a lot of your earthquake preparations easily cover other emergency situations as well.
Where We're Going With Preparedness
As we move into preparations over several posts, we’ll cover some of our efforts--that is what we're working on as a family-- towards becoming better prepared. Some of the topics include:
- Shelter in place and evacuations,
- Home preparations,
- Work preparations,
- School considerations,
- Emergency plans.
I know the challenges of trying to become prepared amid the struggles and demands of life. Full-time work, classes—along with their homework—at the university, four kids, and being active in our church keep us wondering what time we have left.
Keep in mind that in order to keep things somewhat simplified, the information on preparedness is not intended to be comprehensive, that is, it does not cover every contingency, possibility, or option. Much of what will be shared are preparations I have been, or am making, with my own family.
Besides sharing with you many of our preparedness efforts, my intent is to help you begin or improve your foundation of preparedness.
Remember, preparedness is not a one-time-and-you’re-done thing. But, it also doesn’t need to consume your life.
Becoming better prepared is making regular efforts, evaluations, and changes towards preparedness.
As we go through this preparedness section, I share a lot of what I have done and offer some suggestions that could help you.
Lists are helpful, and there will be links to suggested lists. But, they can also be overwhelming if we think we need to get everything right away. So, while I have full lists, I’ve also made some modifications.
Using my experience, I have down some preparedness efforts and lists into more “bite-sized” pieces. These efforts are pieced into things you could do within the next week, four weeks, three months (90 days), and over the next year.
Using these “What to do now” lists as a guidelines you can be on your way to becoming better prepared, without having to try to do everything at once.
One thing to keep in mind about being prepared. In the event of a disaster, emergency, or other scenario, what you do in the first few minutes can substantial affect the outcome for you and your loved ones. Being prepared gives you options.
There are all kinds of preparations that can be done. Many emergency preparation classes focus more on the very short-term. More serious preppers will discuss long-term preparations. For our discussion, we will look more at an intermediate time frame: longer than the short-term, but not the serious long-term preparations.
This focus should help you become prepared for a short-term situation, and it lays the foundation of any long-term plans you may want to start.
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