In the last 20 years, according to a report released by the British charity Oxfam. Oxfam The number of natural disasters around the world has increased by more than four times analyzed data from the Red Cross, United Nations and researchers at Louvain University in Belgium. It found that the earth is currently experiencing approximately 500 natural disasters per year, compared with 120 per year in the early 1980s. The number of weather-related disasters in 2006 was 240, compared with 60 in 1980. So, the question isn’t if you will experience a natural disaster; it’s really a question of when.
The recent early winter storms that occurred in the Northeastern United States left millions from Maine to Maryland without power. Even though residents had advance warning, many were unprepared for the severity of the storm. Two months ago, residents were also inadequately prepared for Hurricane Irene, which left extensive wind and flood damage along its path. Again, there was warning, but the hurricane’s severity far exceeded expectations.
Don’t be caught unprepared. Do you have the following items ready to see your family through an emergency or natural disaster?
• Grab and go kits for every member of your family, including pets
• Well-stocked first aid kit
• Emergency gas and water shut-off tool
• Emergency communications plan that instructs your loved ones regarding who to call and where to meet in case of emergency
• Enough non-perishable food to last your family for a minimum of two weeks; it may take emergency services that long to reach you in a severe disaster
• Water for drinking, cooking and hygiene – a minimum of one gallon per person per day and enough to last at least two weeks
• Alternative ways to cook and provide heat and light in case of a power outage
• Emergency kits in your car, at your workplace, and at your children’s schools
• Safety skills, such as first aid and CPR
• Fire extinguisher – be sure everyone in your home knows how to use it and where it is kept
We realize that this list may seem daunting. We encourage you to work on just one category each month. If you already have some items, take inventory to see what needs to be replaced or added. Then, follow through with replacing or adding those items. We talk to a lot of folks who know what they need but don’t take the next step to actually do it.
Take action today. Emergency planning is about preparedness, not paranoia. Knowing that your family can weather a disaster will bring you and them peace of mind.