Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What is Emergency Preparedness?

As you may know, September is Emergency Preparedness month in the US.  If you live in the US, you are probably hearing FEMA commercials on the radio telling you to have 3 or more days food and water put aside for an emergency.  You may be thinking that you don't live in hurricane or tornado country so what do you have to worry about.

For a moment lets also put aside snow and ice storms. Ditto on chemical spills or wild fires.  For the sake of argument, let's say that you live in an area where neither natural disasters nor man-made disasters could ever happen. 

Even if this is the case, you should still have emergency preparedness plans.

Why?  Have you ever been laid off?  Has anyone in your family every been too sick to work? Have you ever been in an auto accident, left without a car and not have the money to purchase a new one? Have you ever had a flat tire on the side of the road?

Emergency preparedness plans are for when the unexpected happens to you.  It really doesn't matter what 'the unexpected' is. When it happens, most people are caught off guard.  That is when you reach for your emergency preparedness plans.

Emergency preparedness is more than food and water.  It is also having some money in an emergency savings account, having the physical stamina needed to deal with an emergency and/or having the mental stamina needed to deal with an emergency, among other things. While supplies give you the resources you need in an emergency, plans give you the flexibility needed to act when the emergency happens and time is tight.

I talk about food and water storage quite a bit here at Whispers From Elizabeth so for this post, we will put those two aside and talk about the plan instead. Here are some other things you should consider adding to your emergency preparedness plans:
  • Emergency car kits - (For that flat tire or mechanical failure by the side of the road.) You can read about what to put into your emergency car kit here.
  • 72 Hour kits - (In case you have to go anywhere in a hurry.) Some people call these G.O.O.D. bags or 'get out of Dodge' bags. Next week I will post about what I have in my 72 hour kit. These are stored at home, rather than in your car.
  • Emergency funds - This one is extremely important. You don't want to have to go into debt to fix the air conditioner or furnace if it happens to break.  Start small - just a few dollars or even small change every week will add up. This is a journey not a destination.  When an emergency happens to you and you use up the funds, you will have to start over saving up again.
  • Physical stamina - While it would be great if we were all in top athletic condition, what is really important is your ability to face the emergency.  Do you have the stamina to walk if your car broke down on a deserted section of the highway? Can you lift something heavy if you had to move debris to get to one of your family members?
  • Mental stamina - I think this one is the most critical of all.  All of us face burdens of some kind in this life and what is really important is how you react to them. You will react better if you are mentally prepared. Think about what risks you and your family face. Then, think about how you would handle it.  If you fall apart at the moment the emergency happens, you won't be able to help anyone!
Take the opportunity this month and start work on your emergency preparedness plans!

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