YORKTOWN, Va. – Families in Prescott, Arizona are burying the remains of nineteen brave firefighters who died battling a fierce wildfire. Oklahomans are still struggling to recover from the horrible tornado devastation inflicted just a few short weeks ago. A deadly SARS-like virus is slowly spreading across the Middle East and Europe. And New Yorkers are just now picking up the pieces from Hurricane Sandy that left flooding, power outages, and property damage as it battered the East Coast. People all across the country are constantly reminded about the importance of being better prepared.
Dr. Arthur Bradley, author of the bestselling Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family and the Prepper's Instruction Manual, says, "Most Americans simply don't appreciate that the United States experiences more dangerous weather than any other country in the world. It isn't until winds are blowing and rain is pounding that they begin to think about their vulnerability. Unfortunately, by then, it is often too late."
When asked where families should start, Dr. Bradley offers his Cardinal Rule. "Whenever possible, get out of the way!" Some disasters can be seen coming hours or days in advance. His advice suggests that if there's a way to safely escape harm's way, take it. "There's no reason to unnecessarily put yourself or your family in danger. Stay alert to what's going on around you, and be ready to move."
For those events that occur suddenly or are just too large to avoid, having a well thought out disaster preparedness plan can mean the difference between life and death. Dr. Bradley says that an effective plan should be built around our fourteen needs: food, water, shelter, light, heating/cooling, air, sleep, hygiene, medicine, communications, electrical power, financial security, transportation, and protection. "Not every disaster will affect all of these needs, but if you put together a plan that sets up safety nets to ensure that these are met, you can survive almost anything."
He goes on to say that everyone should take steps to avoid what he calls the Five Horsemen of Death. These include floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and hurricanes. "Add to that list house fires, which kill more Americans than all natural disasters combined, and you've got a very succinct set of dangers that people should consider when putting together their preparedness plans."
Dr. Bradley offers the following suggestions on how to get started: (1) begin by stocking consumables that might end up in short supply, such as food, water, medicine, candles, batteries, fuel, ammunition, and diapers; (2) shore up your home to ensure it is in good repair; (3) plan for a possible evacuation by identifying at least two escape routes and destinations, letting others know when and where you are going; (4) keep an emergency kit in your automobile, such as a gas can, blankets, water, flashlight, and first aid kit – see http://disasterpreparer.com/auto-kits for a complete list; (5) review your insurance policies to make sure that adequate safety nets are in place; (6) have ready a properly-sized backup heating system; (7) establish an emergency fund that can be quickly accessed, ideally, enough for 3-6 months; (8) create a network of like-minded individuals committed to working together to survive dangerous events; and (9) consider the special needs of those within your household, including children, the elderly, those with disabilities, and pets.
These, and many other, recommendations are found in the Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family. For more information on Dr. Bradley's books, as well as his free preparedness newsletter, see http://disasterpreparer.com.