Preparing for disasters: Take it one step at a time
- Published: Monday, Aug. 29, 2011
COLUMBIA, Mo. – This year Missouri has seen flooding, severe winter weather and devastating tornadoes. Meanwhile, two earthquakes struck in the U.S. within hours of each other even as a major hurricane moved toward the East Coast.
In September, as the nation marks the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and partners are observing the eighth annual National Preparedness Month.
Disaster can strike at any time and in any place. Are you and your family prepared?
“A couple reasons people might not prepare is that they feel overwhelmed by the process and they can’t afford to do ‘all that stuff,’” said Sherry Nelson, University of Missouri Extension human development specialist.
Do you have emergency supplies on hand? What is your family’s disaster plan? Are important documents and information in a secure, accessible place? It’s a lot to think about, so it’s not surprising many people might throw up their hands and count on the odds of safety and survival being on their side.
“A better way to look at preparedness is to see it as a process that we do over time,” Nelson said. “It is like any other goal we undertake. The main thing is to get started.”
As with any other big project, a divide-and-conquer approach can make preparing for an emergency and disaster a less intimidating prospect.
“We break it down into manageable parts,” she said. “This also can make it more affordable—perhaps $20 per month, more or less. One way to break this goal down is to consider doing a set of preparedness activities and purchases each month.”
The emergency management office of Washington County, Ore., produced a 12-month preparedness calendar that provides a checklist of items to buy and things to do for each month. It can be downloaded at http://www.ocem.org/pdf_resources/Prep_Calendar.pdf.
If you’d prefer to move at a quicker pace, American Red Cross chapters in Washington State have prepared a similar checklist spanning 24 weeks: www.co.thurston.wa.us/em/PA/24_WeekCalendar.pdf.
MU Extension has produced a number of publications and guides on disaster preparation and emergency management:
(To access publications, use the links below or go http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/ and search by publication number.)
-EMW1011, Family Disaster Plan – A template to guide families through the process of developing a comprehensive disaster plan.
-EMW1012, Disaster Supplies Kit – A downloadable guide to gathering the supplies your family will need if a disaster strikes.
Additional publications and resources from MU Extension can be found at http://extension.missouri.edu/main/DisplayCategory.aspx?C=10.
For more information about National Preparedness Month, see http://community.fema.gov/connect.ti/READYNPM.
Writer: Curt Wohleber
Sherry Nelson, LCSW, MSW.