Be Very Afraid

IMG_3124Or be at least a little bit afraid: not so afraid that you become paralyzed with fear and not so little afraid that you don’t do practical things to better prepare yourself (and your family) in case of disaster/emergency. Aim for being ‘just right’ afraid.

Public health messaging about ‘appropriate’ disaster preparedness has been a topic of fascination for me since teaching my community health course in New Zealand this past winter. (See my previous ‘New Zealand Postcards’ blog series, especially ‘Disaster Tourism; All Right?’ and ‘Disaster Preparedness: Lions and Tigers and Zombies and Earthquakes, Oh My!’) When I returned to Seattle in April I had resolved to practice what I preached in this regard and make a disaster preparedness kit for our home. Seven months later I’ve finally put one together.

This cute little red ‘lunchbox’ disaster/emergency preparedness pack in the photo is one that got delivered to my university office this past week. A one-person 72-hour survival kit. Inside it has pouches of water, high-energy food bars, a mini first aid kit, a whistle, a flashlight/extra batteries, hand sanitizer, an emergency survival blanket, maxi pads, hand warmers, and a poncho (this is Seattle after all and we like our rain gear). The CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response website and FEMA’s ‘Ready’ website  recommend having smaller grab-and-go personal disaster preparedness kits like this one at work/school, in your car, or other places where you spend a lot of time. They recommend having a larger ‘family-sized’ disaster preparedness kit at home and they provide lists of recommended items for the kits. Some of the recommended items on the two lists are the same (like water and food), but many of the items on the lists differ. An interesting but largely unsurprising fact. I prefer the CDC list. The American Red Cross survival kit list on their website seems to follow the CDC list and both seem to have taken health literacy factors into account.

Through the process of researching and putting together a household disaster/emergency preparedness kit, I’ve realized the health and safety advantages of having camping and hiking as hobbies. Swiss Army knife. Check. Tent. Check. Portable water filtration kit plus iodine water purification tablets. Check. Sleeping bags. Check. Portable first aid kit with hand sanitizer. Check. Toilet paper and small plastic shovel for digging a latrine. Check. Rain poncho. Check. Hand-cranked and solar-powered flashlight and NOAA weather radio. Check.  All stored in one easily-accessible place at home. Check. The only items I needed to add to my preexisting camping supplies were cans of food and water jugs. I now having a home disaster preparedness kit. In Seattle, if you could chose an ideal place to be when disaster strikes, I think it would be inside REI’s flagship store downtown.

I’ve realized that even basic home disaster/emergency preparedness is not an equal opportunity endeavor–it is mainly available to people with the resources to: 1) research and figure out what a disaster kit should include, 2) purchase the items (or purchase a ready-made kit), and 3) have a home in which to store the disaster/emergency preparedness kit.

 

 

3 thoughts on “Be Very Afraid

  1. Having survived all the Christchurch earthquakes while working as a paramedic, can I suggest you add the following to your survival kit …….

    1. A list of all medications you are on. 2. Cash- when the power goes off there are no ATM’s 3. Copies of important documents. ie insurance, bank acct, NOK and other important phone numbers. 4. A tooth brush and tooth paste, and disposable “wet wipes”. We can live with dirty clothes, but clean teeth, hands and Face make a huge difference to ones outlook on disaster. 5. A can opener and a spoon. Make sure the cans of food you save are all stuff you are happy to eat cold. Baked beans, rice puddings …….

    Sheryl Dampier 0211157478

    Sent from my iPad

    Like

  2. Experience tells me you need…… Wet wipes, tooth brush and paste, a list of all the meds you take, cash, list of important phone numbers, copies of important documents, cans of food of stuff you are happy to eat cold ie baked beans, rice pudding, can opener, spoon, plastic or tin mug. Bottled water, and something to add to flavour it once you have sterilised it.

    These are what we found important surviving the Christchurch earthquakes
    with no power or water got a month!

    Like

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