Friday, October 10, 2008

72-hours and a Disaster- What Are The Differences You Need To Know?

With the headlines and media reports still reeling with the news of disaster after disaster many people are finally hearing the wake-up call and sincerely trying to become prepared. This time of year many times coincides with an onslaught of heavy rain, floods, more ice and snow and so on. So thoughts and plans toward preparedness are indeed practical at this season.

No matter what all of the rumors are saying; being prepared for a disaster and having a 72-hour kit are not the same. You need to know the differences.
There is a lot of confusion nowadays about what it means to be prepared. Being prepared at home does not begin and end with a preparedness kit, though having a preparedness kit is an important part of being prepared. To be prepared for a disaster you need to be ready to take care of yourself in your home and also away from your home, in case of an evacuation.

The purpose of a 72-hour evacuation kit is to provide all the supplies you may need to care for yourself completely for a minimum of three days, and in many instances much longer, in case your are forced out of your home on the spur of the moment. For example, a chemical spill on some nearby train tracks could force the evacuation of several square miles of homes for several days until it is contained. A bomb threat could evacuate a neighborhood with only a few minutes notice. Earthquakes, floods, fires, and many other things can also cause evacuations. If you are evacuated from your home, you need to have a kit prepared that you can grab as you go out the door. It will become your home away from home. While it is likely that an evacuation shelter will eventually be set up for you to stay in, it may be a while before it is up and running with all the food and supplies you’ll need. Statistics show that it usually takes a minimum of 72 hours for authorities (the government or Red Cross, etc.) to get set up and organized after a major disaster. During those 72 or more hours you are on your own. That is why you have a 72-hour kit: to take care of yourself until help is available. Even after assistance is organized many of the items that would help you at a shelter during an evacuation are there on a donation basis. There may or may not be enough for everyone. So while your basic needs will be usually be met (food, water, shelter, basic first aid, etc.) there’s no guarantee more than that will be available. It’s up to you to be ready to care for yourself. And unfortunately we all have seen that indeed even your basic needs may not be able to be met.

Being forced out of your home is not the only problem you may face. Some disasters may occur that leave you within the safety of your home, only without power, or utilities or any means of obtaining supplies for days or even weeks. Preparedness for this type of disaster includes having on hand sufficient food and non-food supplies to last until the stores open again or until you are able to get to the store. This food should require little or no preparation or refrigeration. Think through the ramifications of being without power for any length of time and make plans to deal with that situation. Butane or Sterno stoves and fuel would allow you to heat the food you have or prepare simple meals. Lanterns, flashlights, a source for heat, extra blankets and water are some of the things to have on hand when you’re faced with a crisis.

Don’t be discouraged. Getting prepared can seem like a big job, probably because it is. But it’s not impossible. Start with a plan and work consistently to learn the skills and gather the supplies you need to be ready for whatever may come. The feeling of peace you’ll receive by being prepared is worth all your efforts. Just remember the chocolate. ##

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