Thursday, June 10, 2010

10 Steps to Handling a Disaster

Handling any disaster takes a few things--a clear mind, a decisive plan of action, and, a swift response. A checklist helps too. Here it is.
  1. What happened? Ascertain as quickly as possible what the nature of the disaster is. If it is an earthquake, you are going to know rather quickly. If it is your company on the verge of bankruptcy, it may be a slowly unfolding thing. If it is an active shooter, again, you will figure this out quickly. If it is a viral pandemic, you may get a bit of notice. You need to get a good idea of what you are dealing with so that you can move to step two.
  2. What immediate action is necessary? In an earthquake, you will need to dust yourself off and get to a safe place. If you have an inkling that your employer is on shaky financial ground, you don't need to react this very moment but you will need to develop a plan. Quickly. If you are in a mall and hear gunshots, you need to react quickly and effectively.
  3. Is everyone else OK? Once you take care of your immediate safety needs, make sure everyone else in your family/workplace/vicinity is OK. Basic first aid, CPR, and barking orders may be necessary.
  4. Do you stay or go? After your immediate survival needs are met, you need to decide if you stay where you are or go. If you can stay where you are (preferably at home), you will want to sit tight. If you must evacuate, you will need a plan. Where will you go? How will you get there? What will you take with you? What is your back-up plan?
  5. Provision of supplies is your next task. If you are home, hopefully you will not need to go anywhere to get anything. Hopefully you will have plenty of the basics--water, food, shelter--stored in your home. If you are evacuating, you will need to bring these supplies with you. If you did not plan ahead...well, you will be out at Walmart with a horde of other unprepared people. Good luck.
  6. Communications is right up here in the top ten things you need to do ASAP. You want both incoming communications and outgoing communications (TV, radio, internet, cell phone, HAM radio, land line, etc) so that you can get continual updates on the disaster situation and so that you can contact friends/family/other important people either to reassure them you are OK or ask for help.
  7. Determine your 24 and 72 hour plan; subject to change of course. Depending on the type of disaster, you will need to determine what to do for the next day or three. You want to keep yourself and family/friends/pets fed, watered, warm, dry, and safe. This may be as simple as holing up at home in front of the fireplace for a few days (in the case of a winter storm), creating a safe room (in the event of a chemical spill when you can't evacuate), setting up camp in your back yard (in the event of an earthquake), or doing some radical stuff like holding a garage sale/eBaying stuff/Craigslisting stuff to bulk up your emergency fund (in the event your company may go under).
  8. Make a long-term plan if necessary. Sometimes disasters don't resolve within a short period of time (think Hurricane Katrina, think 9/11, think the tsunami, think a fire that guts your entire home) and you need to plan for a longer term response to the disaster. Will you need to resettle? Will you need to find a long term source of water and/or food? Will safety soon be a problem because of the marauding hordes? How will your income-producing abilities be impacted?
  9. Go into recovery mode. Clean up, replenish and restock your supplies, get that new job, file your insurance claims...depending on the disaster you just faced, there will be a recovery phase in which you try to get your life back to "normal".
  10. The after action review. After the dust has settled and things have returned to whatever normal is, you will want to review what happened, analyze what worked and what didn't work, and note how to address the issues that didn't work in the event of a future disaster.

Obviously each disaster will be different and your response to the different types of disasters will entail a range of responses but the basic format above will give you some idea of how to respond to whatever may happen.

1 comment:

  1. CNI: Once again good advice! I have been in a few disasters. Earthquake, flash flood. Reacting quickly can make all the difference! I suggest. If you can,
    make your calls first. The system will go down fast.
    Fill your car(s) with gas. Also, propane if you need it.
    Get money
    Get to the store quick. There will be a lull before the rush. Get what you need in one trip.
    All D and AA batteries will disappear. Find thing that use C. They don't run out.
    Don't trust the Government, or media %100 when they tell you what you should do.