Saturday, October 11, 2014

What Do You Do When Disaster Strikes Far Away?

With (yet another) typhoon bearing down on Japan, it got me to thinking about what people do when loved ones are in danger far away.  I have friends in Japan, from Okinawa to Tokyo, so, while I know that a typhoon isn't that big of a deal since they happen all of the time in that area, it still raises my concern a bit.  Here's what to do when loved ones are far away in a danger zone:

  • Monitor the news.  Most major news stations (CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, etc) will have relevant coverage of the disaster.
  • Check out blogs.  Find blogs written by locals in the disaster area as these often provide better coverage than the major news stations as long as the blogger has internet access.
  • Monitor other social media sites for the latest information (Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, reddit, etc usually have up to the minute coverage by a multitude of people in the disaster area).
  • Check out other relevant sites for info (weather websites if it is a weather event, for example).
  • Ask your loved ones ahead of time about their preparedness efforts and offer support/useful information if needed.
  • Provide encouragement--ahead of time--to help the person prepare for a disaster (ie: introduce them to HAM radio as a hobby, encourage them to take a CPR class and pack a Bug Out Bag, etc).
  • Keep a packet of information on the person and their family which would help you identify them after a disaster (everything from photos and a physical description, photos of tattoos, etc up to a DNA sample).
  • Offer your home as a place of refuge if needed (ie: if you have friends or relatives in a possible Katrina-esque scenario, offer them the opportunity ahead of time to come for a vacation until the disaster passes). 
  • Offer financial support, if possible, before and after the disaster if your loved one needs it.
  • If your loved one is missing after a disaster, look for them on the Red Cross Safe and Well website and/or Google Person Finder.
  • Provide information as possible to your loved one after a disaster (ie: info on Red Cross or FEMA disaster services, etc).

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