When we speak of disasters – preparation is the key to survival and procrastination is the key to casualty! Sounds intense, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because IT IS!
Ask any major disaster survivors what they wish for and they will all have one thing in common: If they could do it all over again, they would take a number of important steps so that they and their loved ones would have been safer and more protected.
Analyze Your Surroundings – Make It Safe!
In our previous posts we’ve talked about hazards such as congested exit routes, tripping hazards, electrical hazards so that you’ll know what these could mean in case of a major disaster. The only way to find out the extent of what areas your home needs improvements is by either hiring specialists in the field and letting them conduct an in-depth safety analysis or doing it yourself.
The benefit of letting expert professionals do this FOR you is that while you may put this in the back burner because of the important cricket match you’d rather watch, they are hired because of their expertise in safety preparedness and they know what they are doing!
Don’t let a little bit of ‘savings’ cause a great deal of ‘loss’!
If you decide to do this yourself, kudos to you! Just make sure you don’t rush the job and that you make sure to cross every ‘T’ and dot every ‘I’ because one minor hazard can snowball into a chain of unstoppable events.
Make a a check list of hazards you identify, such as the ones mentioned above or throughout our previous posts and then start taking care of them.
For example, if there is a congested exit route, move the bigger pieces of furniture to a wider and safer area of the house or the office. If there are large wall hangings where everyone spends most of their time, bolt them securely to the walls so they don’t fall over, causing head or neck injuries.
Knowing What to Do – How to Do It – And When to Do It
You’re not alone! You have family members and colleagues that can and SHOULD help you survive a disaster. Counting on local health and safety officials to reach you fast in times of a major disaster is nothing but wishful thinking!
The 2005 Pakistan Earthquake that shook most of Northern Pakistan as well as the country’s capital, Islamabad, left even the nation’s military, health-care, law enforcement and emergency rescue agencies entirely paralyzed for hours, if not days!
The country’s entire safety network was just as helpless as the victims and completely unable to react. If more victims of this tragedy knew how to react appropriately to the incident and help themselves as well as those around them, we would have had a much higher number of survivors.
Life saving skills such as adult and infant CPR, emergency first aid and firefighting are skills that every responsible adult should learn. Participating in a cooking class or paying Rs. 5,000 for a New Years party may teach you to cook a nice meal and buy you a night of fun BUT, learning a skill that could help save lives, well, YOU DO THE MATH!
If you have children that are of a mature age, they should participate in safety and emergency trainings; they should know whom to call if they are alone and just as importantly, they should also know when to call and where to re-group in case of separation from others after a disaster strikes.
Involve them in fun activities that revolve around safety so they learn while having fun!
Most schools, daycares and homes, which were affected by the 2005 earthquake, left hundreds of children lost and unable to reach to their loved ones until hours, even days had passed.
Make A Plan
There is an acronym that we can all agree on: Six P’s and an R – Piss Poor Planning Produces Piss Poor Results! Same is the case with attempting to survive disasters without a plan – you may survive it but if you can do it better, with the least amount of damage, then why not?
Having an emergency plan for your home or business is a great tool to have! Not only will it improve your chances of survival in times of a disaster, it will also show those under your care that you’re able to go above and beyond to care for their well being.
The following list is a few important things that everyone should consider while developing an emergency plan:
- The number of people inside your home/office
- How many (if any) of these people are disabled or otherwise unable to care for themselves
- List emergency equipment required to execute the plan
- Make sure it is easy to understand and give room for feedback
- Plan for at least three days of self survival
- Get most updated list of emergency contacts
Here are identifiers that everyone should be familiar with:
- Identify your main electrical and gas lines and state procedures for turning them off
- Identify exit routes
- Identify a secondary exit route in case the facility is large and holds more than a dozen people so that the primary route does not get over crowded. At times when even the exit routes are unreachable, a secondary route will be the contingency plan that could save lives!
If there are hazardous materials stored inside the facility, then they need to be identified in the plan along with safe storage instructions and procedures in case of an accidental spillage. All such materials need to be placed in its own prescribed storage areas and should be marked to avoid cross contamination or misplacement.
If there is a fire hazard, then the appropriate fire extinguisher device should be identified, installed with every able person inside the facility knowing how to use it.
Having said this, just having a plan is not enough; the plan needs to be tested, improved and frequently drilled in order to ensure that it the best plan for YOU! If you live in an apartment building or a housing community OR your office is within a facility that houses more businesses, make sure you talk to your neighbors about adapting an Emergency Plan as well!
Just because you have one set up for yourself doesn’t mean it will work when there are 200 people running around in complete state of panic and chaos while you try to remain calm and take the prescribed exit route. At times of disasters, such as earthquakes and terrorist bombings, it’s very hard to remain calm, let alone, remaining calm amongst a crowd of 200 frantic, screaming people.
Get An Emergency Safety Kit
GETTING AN EMERGENCY AND SAFETY KIT and ensuring that appropriate relief supplies, i.e. medicines, food and water, are available to survive at least a few days is one key to good survival BUT it’s not always enough! Knowing how to put the kit to good use is what matters most!
Once you have identified the potential risks and hazards inside and outside your home and/or office, only then can you decide what to put into your Emergency Kits and how to use it. For instance, living or working in a Tsunami hazard area may mean you will need to include a floating device or life vests in your emergency kit whereas if the disaster will most likely be a terrorist attack in case you live in a troubled neighborhood that has been hit before, including breathing masks and wound closure devices may prove to come more handy!
The best way to know what to include inside of your kit is to first identify a safe shelter for you and everyone under your care to find refuge until help arrives! Make sure that this shelter is located inside the safest area possible so that it’s not damaged during the disaster.
After this decision has been made, then you can plan what you’ll include in your Emergency and Safety Kit. Make sure that you have an adequate amount of water, canned food and medicine (including prescription medication) as well as items such as blankets, anti bacterial wipes, flash lights and a battery operated radio inside your kit to keep with you at your shelter.
At the end of the day, what matters most is how much importance you give to preparing for a disaster. Because it’s not an every-day event, it eventually becomes easily forgotten and bites us in the rear!
While there is no guarantee that any of the above will provide you with a 100% chance of survival, at least you know you are prepared to react and equipped to survive!
Stay Well – Stay SAFE!
Founder | Chief Consultant
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