Thursday, April 18, 2013

Two Days, Two Disasters: 10 Prep Tips

In the last few days there have been not one, but two major disasters (the Boston Marathon Bombing and the Explosion of the fertilizer plant in Texas).  Here's ten ways to prep for these kinds of unexpected disasters:

  1. Take a first aid class (or two...or three).  Most disasters require the rendering of first aid so it is a good idea if you have some skills in this area.
  2. Always carry an EDC kit with you (even the basics such as a bottle of water or a knife can come in handy in a disaster).
  3. Participate in disaster preparedness training (everything from volunteering with your local Search and Rescue or Red Cross to taking an online FEMA class).
  4. Consider communications (how would you communicate during a disaster? Text messaging? Two-way radio? and of course, consider the lack of communicating in order to save bandwidth).
  5. Document, document, document.  In every disaster, the more documentation that is available (by way of written records, photos, and videos) the better after-action reports/plans can be developed.
  6. Situation awareness is paramount.  Some places just scream "this is not a good place to be".  Obviously if your spidey-sense is telling you that the location you are in is not safe (a fertilizer plant of fire), then evacuate without needing to wait for permission from the powers that be.  Ditto for buying/renting a house anywhere in the vicinity of a specific, known danger area.
  7. Always be ready to evacuate at a moments notice (you do have a BOB waiting and ready to go don't you?).
  8. Use your best judgement.  There is no "right" thing to do during a disaster.  As was seen in the Boston blast, one blast may send people running in one direction but with choreographed explosions (generally completely unexpected unless you are in a war zone), the direction you run to may be equally unsafe.  Use your best judgement depending on the situation.
  9. Use common sense.  My common sense tells me to stay away from places packed with tens of thousands of people.  Other common sense (which was lacking in Texas as the fire department should have had entry protocols for a fire in the fertilizer plant which pretty much should have specified NO entry during a fire but anyway...) should tell you to always take specific actions in order to avoid or at least mitigate disasters (ie: always look for escape routes, always be watching people in the crowd, know where to go for help, etc).
  10. Learn from disasters.  Digest all of the news from these and other recent disasters and play the what-if game.  What are things that could have been done to mitigate the damage caused by these disasters?  What changes could be made in future situations similar to the scenarios of these disasters? 

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