What is the longest period of time you’ve gone without electricity? A couple of hours after a bad thunderstorm? A few days while camping? A week while on a mission trip to a developing country? During the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in 2008, I went 15 consecutive days without electricity. This episode wasn’t exactly convenient, but I learned some incredibly valuable lessons from it.
Public health authorities recommend that all households create an emergency plan and assemble a disaster supply kit. Though most of us think these are good things to do, we often put them off because of busy schedules and tight budgets. Due to my experience in 2008, I know the importance of finding the time and money to see to these tasks! Moreover, Scripture teaches that it is wise to anticipate upcoming dangers and store up for meager times (Proverbs 6:6-8 and 22:3).
I have no desire to mimic pithy or alarmist public service announcements, but I’m compelled by my experience to take a straightforward look at fundamental preparedness topics and discuss these in a way that will help us all streamline our planning. Thus, I’ll take a look at a few preparedness topics over the next couple of weeks. September is a convenient time to do this because it is National Preparedness Month. Will you dare to prepare and join me in developing a preparedness plan for the first time or by updating your existing plan and replenishing your supplies?
An important first step in disaster preparedness is determining which disasters can occur where you live. This can be especially helpful if you suffer from “it won’t happen to me” apathy, which is a frequent barrier to disaster preparedness planning.
- Natural disasters. Catastrophic disasters like hurricanes, floods, tornados, and earthquakes have the potential to knock out utilities and interrupt your routine activities for days, weeks, or even months. Just because you don’t live in a coastal region, Tornado Alley, or California doesn’t mean you’re not at risk! Seemingly less significant events like extreme heat or cold, blizzards, and wind storms can do the same.
- Technological and industrial accidents. Do you live near a railway, factory, hospital, service station, or other facility that handles hazardous materials? Or perhaps you live near a nuclear power plant? (The government estimates that about 3 million Americans live within 10 miles of an operating nuclear power plant! You can find out here if you live near one.) Unless you live in a very rural location, you likely live in an area where residents could find themselves needing to shelter in place due to a technological or industrial accident.
- Pandemics. Talk of disease pandemics often brings to mind historical events or works of science fiction. However, the risk of an influenza pandemic is very real. Essential services may be interrupted during a pandemic and you may need to remain at home for an extended period of time to avoid exposure to the illness.
- Terrorism. We live in an era characterized by omnipresent risk of terrorism. Various sites in your community (transportation hubs, civic buildings, stadiums, convention centers, houses of worship, etc.) could be potential targets. Acts of terrorism can interrupt the delivery of essential services, requiring residents to be self-reliant.
Next week we’ll take a look at how knowledge of these various risks can help us determine which supplies—and how much of each—should be included in a disaster supply kit.
Have you ever experienced a disaster? What challenges did you face in the wake of it?