By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice
September is National Preparedness Month, and it is a good time to create a written plan for natural disasters and emergencies that can occur to anyone at any time. Coincidently, September is also the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Preparedness for any kind of emergency is crucial. By having a plan in place before an event occurs, you have an opportunity to mitigate damage and save lives.
Developing an Emergency Plan
Developing an emergency plan well in advance of an event reduces stress and decreases the chaos commonly associated with experiencing an emergency. This plan should be based around a course of action to follow before, during and after the event, and it should involve consultation and coordination with family members and friends.
An emergency plan should also be tailored to regional threats. For example, someone in California or the southwestern United States should have an emergency plan for wildfires or earthquakes. People in the Midwest should create a plan for tornadoes or floods, while people along the East Coast and southern states need to develop a plan for hurricanes.
Buying Supplies Prior to an Emergency Is Helpful
When an emergency occurs, supplies at local stores typically run out quickly. Ideally, you should stockpile some non-perishable food, along with bottled water.
People in flood-prone areas may also wish to stock up on sandbags, waterproof boots and other related equipment. Similarly, the residents of a community susceptible to tornadoes should designate a safe place for family members and put life-saving supplies in it in the event of a tornado warning.
Maintaining Communications during an Emergency
Maintaining good communication during an emergency – especially in regard to weather updates – is also useful. In the event that electrical power to your home or business is knocked out, battery-powered radios are crucial.
Mobile apps can be helpful in maintaining communication. Although initially designed for locating employees in an emergency, the mobile app StaySafe provides real-time updates on the location and wellbeing of its user. StaySafe uses a cloud-based hub that enables others to locate someone in an emergency on a map and send assistance.
FEMA’s 5 Goals of National Preparedness
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, there are five goals of national preparedness. These goals can be included in a written emergency plan and include:
- Prevention – avoiding an imminent threat when possible
- Protection – taking steps to protect citizens and assets from the greatest threats, such as major natural disasters such as hurricanes or manmade disasters such as terrorist acts on U.S. soil
- Mitigation – reduce the loss of life and damage by reducing the impact of future disasters
- Response – responding promptly to meet basic human needs following a disaster
- Recovery – restoring and re-establishing infrastructure after an emergency
FEMA works with local first responders to mitigate the risk of disasters and major emergencies. Its personnel ensure that proper resources are available to communities before, during and after a catastrophic event.
During National Preparedness Month, be sure to research the potential hazards specific to where you live or work and write an emergency plan to mitigate the effects of a disaster or major emergency. In addition, make sure to include the use of government resources in your emergency plan, such as emergency food supplies, temporary housing and financial resources.