Personal Disaster Plan
Adisaster is a sudden catastrophic event that poses an immediate threat to an individual’s well-being and even life. This event might be the result of a natural calamity or an accident involving artificial things. The natural calamities are usually the result of extreme weather conditions such as strong winds andexcessive rains. They include blizzards, hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. Other natural calamities have geologic causes such as earthquakes. In the artificial realm, disasters come in the form of terrorist bomb attacks, long term power outages, motor vehicle accidents, school shootings and even fires. When these disasters take place, many lives are usually lost, not because of the initial disaster as many people believe. The deaths and needless injuries often result from those caught up in the disaster panicking and thus placing them in more danger. Some might argue that the authorities have put in place measures to prevent such fatalities and injuries through stand-by emergency evacuation services through flying doctor services, ambulances and fire departments. Despite these measures, the person best placed to deal with the disaster remains the person who is directly affected. This calls for personal disaster preparedness.
Personal disaster preparedness is when an individual takes deliberate proactive measures to ensure that he or she is prepared to deal with a forecasted or unexpected disaster when it arises. This is not a one-time thing that you can just do and get over with. On the contrary, personal disaster preparedness is an ongoing process because it takes continuous alertness to effectively deal with disasters.
In the event of most natural disasters, excessive infrastructural damage takes place. Floods, blizzards and Tornadoes often wreak havoc wherever they affect. For this reason, it is imperative that the house is stocked with supplies that can sustain me for some days in a worst case scenario.
Supplies that must be present in the house in the event of a disaster
Water supply: One can survive for more than a week without food but anything more than three days without water becomes life-threatening. For this reason, it is important that you have adequate amounts of fresh water. These should be preferably huge bottles of fresh water which have been stored safely. Since one requires roughly a gallon of water a day. Around five gallons of fresh water will do.
Water purification tablets also need to be kept just in case the supply runs out and one has to fetch rain water.
If one is going for recreational activities outdoors, he or she also needs to carry more than enough water. The amount also shouldn’t be so much that it weighs one down. The choice of bottle is also important. It needs to be a tough bottle that has a strong strap and the capacity to withstand the elements.
Food Supply: During times of emergency, it is unlikely that one will have the luxury of conventional cooking facilities or fresh food from the grocery. This calls for foodstuffs that have a long shelf life and can be consumed without necessarily heating. Examples of these include canned meats, canned cereals, powdered milk, ling-life milk, peanut butter, sugar and salt. An important tool to be kept with these is a manual can-opener. These foods should be stored in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. An appropriate place for storage will be the basement.
A First Aid Kit: This is a collection of medical supplies and tools that can be used to treat an injury that one has sustained. It should be placed in a place where it is easily accessible and the medicines kept inside need to be consistently checked to ensure their expiry date hasn’t reached. The contents of this kit all need to be sterilized. Bandages need to be in assorted sizes. Alongside this kit, there needs to be accompanying instructions on how to correctly attend to different kinds of wounds.
Other than having one at home, there should be a portable version of this which one has when embarking on out-door activities. The car should also have an easily accessible first aid kit.
The medical supplies should include anti-diarrheal pills, painkillers as well as pills for inducing vomiting (ipecac tablets). It should be noted that the usefulness of a first aid kit can only be limited by the first-Aid knowledge that the user has.
Tools: Since natural disasters usually come with a destructive force, it is important that one ensures he or she has the right tools to get around and perform emergency repairs.
A recently inspected fire extinguisher. One should have both a water based one and a Carbon-filled model. The extinguisher should be wall mounted for easy access. If in a vehicle, it needs to be within the passenger compartment, preferably within the driver’s reach.
A shutoff wrench will come in handy when there is a need to manually turn off the gas or water supply perhaps due to a leakage or contamination.
A dry box of matches or propane filled lighter.
Earth moving tools such as shovels and a hand-hoe also need to be present. These need to be sturdy tools that don’t break easily.
A strong and sharp hand-axe.
A powerful flashlight with fresh batteries needs to be kept nearby. There should be an adequate stock of unused batteries.
A battery powered radio, television or weather radio will also come in handy in the event that there is an extensive power outage.
Other supplies that one should strive to have
In the car one should ensure that the car has a full tank of fuel, jumper cables, some extra blankets, a Jerry-can of water and a flare which is kept dry.
Though cell broadcast radios are losing popularity, they can really come in handy for long distance drivers.
A high visibility jacket.
An updated map of an area, especially of one is not familiar with the place.
In flood-prone areas, an inflatable raft becomes a necessity.
The above supplies and tools can only be of benefit to an individual of he or she is in the right state of mind to deal with any impending disasters. This requires the potential victim to be aware of the dangers that are presented by different disasters in Indiana
Action for before, during and After a disaster
There are three stages of a disaster, before, during and after. In the before stage, one can take preventive measures. During the disaster, the priority is self-preservation and after the disaster has occurred, one goes through recovery. These stages are all interconnected and hence one cannot lay more emphasis on one above the rest. The following are potential disasters that can affect the Indiana area as well as measures which as individual should take to ensure his or her own survival.
To prevent injury from and structural damage of the house, measures have to be taken to make the house-hold more earthquake-safe. Heavy things need to be stored on low shelves and cupboards. Brittle items made of glass should also be kept in lower compartments where they won’t fall and break.
Freestanding appliances such as fridges and cookers need to be firmly bolted to the ground.
Fixtures on the wall should also be secured with studs. Gas lines leading to the house need to be fitted with automatic shutoff valves that are triggered by strong vibrations.(USGS.org n.d.)
The occupant of the house should also identify places to shelter in the event of an earthquake. An ideal position is at the door-frame or under a strong table.
In the event that the earthquake takes place, one should seek shelter in the pre-identified safe spots in the house and follow the sequence of Drop-Cover-hold on. Once one has dropped to the floor, he should hold firmly to the support and move with it until the earthquake subsides completely.
After this, the first thing you should do is to assess the situation and check if other people are ok. If they are trapped, attend to them if it is safe and also alert emergency personnel. (USGS.org n.d.)
Firstly, one should be able to differentiate a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch is issued to warn people of the possibility of a tornado crossing their areas of residence. Tornado warnings on the other hand are issued on short notice when it has been confirmed that a place is in the path of the tornado.
If one doesn’t have a basement, he needs to identify a sturdy, windowless room in which he should seek shelter in the event of a tornado. It is at times necessary to reinforce these rooms. After a tornado watch has been issued, it is important to pay keen attention to the weather reports on radio or television. Mobile homes should be avoided at all costs in case a tornado is on its way. . (FEMA n.d.)
Be on the lookout for funnel clouds, greenish-storm clouds and the presence of a roaring sound and clouds of debris flying. Materials that can cause havoc when flung by the tornado should be removed from the open. They include items like bicycles and crates.
Depending on the locale, one should also be attentive for sirens which are sounded to alert people of tornadoes.
When the tornado hits, shelter should be sought in the predetermined room. In case one is driving, (s) he should drive to the nearest shelter and promptly disembark from the vehicle.
After the tornado has hit, one should get out carefully and check if everyone else is ok especially if you have elderly neighbors.(In.gov n.d.)
These can either be wild or industrial fires. Steps that can be taken include training on the effective use of the different fire extinguishers. Knowledge of the existing fire escapes as well as alternatives.
Flammable materials should always be stored safely in the appropriate containers. The emergency telephone number for the fire department should also be displayed boldly. If one’s line of work has a high fire risk, they should always dress appropriately in fire resistant clothing. (FEMA n.d.)
When faced with a wild fire, the most important thing is to flee from the place with immediate effect. If the fire starts in a building, the first thing to do to ensure safe evacuation.If it is just starting, depending on the type of fire, either water or foam can be used. Materials that may aggravate it should also be removed so as to stop it from spreading to the next building. If necessary, flammable items that link the burning building to others need to be removed. This may be a canvas tent that connects two buildings.
When the fire has died down caution needs to be taken because the damaged materials may still be very hot. Also in the unfortunate event that one sustained injuries, he needs to administer first aid so as to avert further infection.
School Shootings and Terrorist attacks
The only preventive measure here is to report suspicious characters to the relevant authorities. The man who shot and killed over a dozen of his school mates in Virginia Tech was mentally unstable and had already shown signs of aggression. Because nothing was done in time, he managed to execute his macabre plan on university grounds.
These are less likely to occur but all the same remain a possibility. When one hears the sound of shots being fired, the first thing they should do is lie flat on the ground to avoid placing their bodies in the trajectory of the bullets. If one is in the open, they should take cover behind a wall or in a room, even a janitor’s closet will do. Since the perpetrators are unpredictable, it will be disastrous to go and investigate the source of the noise/blast.
While in hiding, you should notify the authorities on your location and about anything you have seen that might be of help.
First Aid Knowledge
This is very important in disaster preparedness. Lessons on first aid are offered by St. John’s ambulance, FEMA and American Red Cross among others.(fema.gov n.d. ) These institutions conduct training programs that equip one with the skills to effectively attend to injuries as well as the different medical emergencies that arise when disasters take place. Without these skills, the first aid kit is nothing more than a collection of medical supplies and cutting tools. These skills can help save situations that are life threatening.(In.gov n.d.)
Finally we have seen that despite the inevitable nature of disasters, there is still some hope left. Preparation for disasters goes well beyond expecting disasters to strike and then waiting to see if we survive. Each person is required to make a deliberate effort to ensure that they have disaster preparedness. This is done by ensuring that one has the appropriate supplies to last at least one week. since it’s a process one should also regularly take refresher courses to remind themselves of facts that might have been forgotten . Individuals should also ensure that they exactly what to do when the different disasters strike.(In.gov n.d.)
FEMA (nd) Home fires. Retrieved from www.fema.gov/hazard/fire/index.shtm – 53k – 2012-04-28 Accessed on April 29, 2012
IN.gov. (n.d.) Indiana tornado Disaster Recovery website. Retrieved from http://www.in.gov/gov/disasterrecovery.htm Accessed on April 29, 2012
USGS (nd) US Geological survey. Retrieved from http://www.usgs.gov Accessed on April 29, 2012
In.gov. IDHS. Retrieved from http://www.in.gov/dhs/ Accessed on April 29, 2012
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