Preparing for Disasters
Natural disasters include tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and winter storms. These events affect hundreds of thousands of people in countries around the world.
Each disaster has immediate effects on people and property. Conditions afterward can also take a toll.
Contaminated water and food, and a lack of clean facilities lead to disease. Fire hazards, damaged buildings, debris and flooding may cause injuries and death. Finally, these disasters may affect the mental and emotional health of survivors.
It's Smart to be Prepared
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, also known as FEMA, stresses the importance of preparing.
- Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters. Communities, families, and individuals should know what to do in the event of a fire and where to seek shelter during a tornado. They should be ready to evacuate their homes and take refuge in public shelters and know how to care for their basic medical needs.
- People also can reduce the impact of disasters (flood proofing, elevating a home or moving a home out of harm’s way, and securing items that could shake loose in an earthquake) and sometimes avoid the danger completely.
The need to prepare is real.
- Disasters disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Each disaster has lasting effects, both to people and property.
- If a disaster occurs in your community, local government and disaster-relief organizations will try to help you, but you need to be ready as well. Local responders may not be able to reach you immediately, or they may need to focus their efforts elsewhere.
- You should know how to respond to severe weather or any disaster that could occur in your area - hurricanes, earthquakes, extreme cold, flooding, or terrorism.
- You should also be ready to be self-sufficient for at least three days. This may mean providing for your own shelter, first aid, food, water, and sanitation.
FEMA’s Are you ready? guide is a great resource. It has tips to help people prepare for disasters.
- Know the risks and danger signs.
- Purchase insurance, including flood insurance, which is not part of your homeowner’s policy.
- Develop plans for what to do.
- Assemble a disaster supplies kit.
- Volunteer to help others.
- Put your plan into action.
- Help others.
- Follow the advice and guidance of officials in charge of the event.
- Repair damaged property.
- Take steps to prevent or reduce future loss.
Should Children Be Involved?
Definitely. Children are affected by natural disasters as much as adults.
Give children information about disasters. Let them help organize disaster supplies. Teach them ways to remain safe during a crisis. The more prepared they are, the better they will be in handling an actual event.