Debunking Some of the Myths of Emergency Preparedness

Posted by on May 31, 2010 in Emergency Preparedness | 0 comments

Most people have not done anything to achieve emergency preparedness (A recent Red Cross study discovered 7% of the population is prepared). Many do not understand the concept of being prepared. Sadly, when faced with an emergency situation, people often blame themselves for not being prepared ahead of time. This may stem from two factors: The realization we could have done more to avoid certain risks and losses, and secondly, it is human nature after initially blaming some situation/person outside of ourselves, we admit we made choices to put us in the situation we are in and have no one to blame but ourselves. I want to take this time to discuss some important preparedness steps that are useful for everyone, and I also want to address some myths which often get in the way of our getting adequately prepared for unexpected events.

The first misconception is the belief we can dial 9-1-1 and all of our problems will be solved. Most people believe they can call 9-1-1 and emergency personnel will come a running at lightening speed. Truth is, during a major crisis situation, phone lines may or may not work and there will be thousands, perhaps millions in need of help. Situation overload generally means not everyone is going to be taken care of in a “timely manner.” In short, you are going to have to survive on your own for a certain period of time. Security begins from your own preparedness, not in relying on someone else. So the first step is to prepare yourself by doing three things: Get a kit, make a plan, and stay informed. To achieve better preparedness for an emergency, read articles and watch videos for pointers. Many areas have preparedness classes readily available sponsored by a local government, church, or association. If you are prepared, and you and your family are safe and do not require immediate assistance, two things get to happen: you can make yourself available to those in need and emergency personnel will be able to help others who need it. A couple benefits from being prepared are that more lives are saved and more people who need the help, get it.

There is much talk on the Internet about the need for a 72 hour kit, this leads me another misconception about preparedness. Many believe just having a disaster kit and a first aid kit means they are prepared. Truth is, being prepared is more that having a three day kit, a radio, a flashlight and some band-aids. Survivalists are quick to point out it is not realistic to believe all severe emergencies will be overcome in a 72 hour window. Having a 72hour kit, a radio, a flashlight, a first aid kit, some food and water is better than nothing. AND it is a start towards being fully prepared. Long-term interruptions of food and water are not uncommon for many natural and/or man-made disasters. Consider being prepared for two to three weeks. Setting aside enough food and water to satisfy your family’s needs for a 21day period speaks volumes about care and safety for yourself and your loved ones.

Another myth is that you will have time once the emergency occurs. Recent history has shown this is rarely the case. Just ask the people in Boston, some 2 million persons, who were affected when a 10’ broke and their drinking water was contaminated in a heartbeat. Or ring up your friends in Nashville who recently underwent a flood of epic proportions for the. Of course you can always contact those in the Gulf and ask them about the impact of Katrina or the recent BP oil spill that has yet to be cleaned up.

It is virtually impossible to create a universal list of supplies, a “one list handles all.” Every family and every person is unique, and have their own specific needs. It all starts by communicating with one another. Reaching out and asking for help. What can you live without for three weeks? What can’t you live without for three days or a week? Start with the basics and build from there. There are numerous resources that provide kits and list suggestions of what to put in your kit. YOU get to decide what emergency preparedness means for you and yours. Get started!

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