Hurricane Preparedness

Ahead of Ernesto, who will be prepared?
Tom Sciacca

This article has been contributed by Tom Sciacca, owner of Camping Survival.   You should also checkout the very active and interesting Camping Survival Facebook page.

I have a question for you: Have you ever given a friend or loved one the gift of survival preparedness? Before you answer, I’ll explain how this thought came into my head.

Lately, news coverage has been giving attention to Tropical Storm Ernesto, which is now Hurricane Ernesto. It’s picking up strength in the Caribbean and apparently toward Mexico, although hurricanes are as changeable as Jennifer Lopez’s mood, so it could easily move toward the Gulf states afterward. Out in the Pacific, Hurricane Emelia has now strengthened to a powerful Category 4 storm, with winds of over 130 mph. And now there’s word of a new storm system off the coast of West Africa, which may eventual be called Tropical Storm Gordon. (It’s still too early to tell yet.)

As always, it made me ponder who will be prepared when a hurricane strikes and who won’t. Which people will have a go-bag ready if the order is given to evacuate and get out ahead of the traffic jams and chaos? Or if they have to hunker down, will they have sufficient supplies to stay safe if emergency services are completely overwhelmed?

Obviously, I practice what I preach about preparedness. But while my own situation is well thought-out, I’m always concerned about my friends who may or may not understand the importance of being prepared, and what can I do to help them. Some of them know the dangers, but never get around to doing anything about it, while others just don’t think anything is going to happen in their neighborhood.

You know how it goes: Whenever there’s an approaching storm, you always see all the unprepared people rushing to the store and cleaning off the shelves of all the food. (A lot of good that canned food is going to do them when their electric stove doesn’t work!) It makes me worry for my friends and relatives down south – especially the ones who say, “We’ve been through hurricanes before. It’s no big deal.”

Oh really? Sometimes storms end up being considerably more devastating than people expected, like Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Andrew.

My point is this: You might be a person who has learned about urban survival in during a natural disaster, but have you talked to your friends and loved ones about getting themselves prepared? Do they know what a go-bag is? Do they know why they should have a First Aid kit on hand and know – at the very least – basic First Aid skills? Do they understand the importance of emergency water and how much emergency water is necessary for their household?

Rather than wait until after a natural disaster to see if they need anything, you might consider being proactive and just send them supplies. Maybe some MRE will help them realize that boxes of dry pasta won’t feed their family if there’s no clean water available to boil it (MRE can be eaten even without heating.) Or a go-bag as a gift will get them to understand that there’s not always time to rummage around the house packing up items during an evacuation.

I often remind my friends and family about disaster preparedness because I want to know they’re ready for any situation that might occur. Most of them are already somewhat prepared (I like to think it’s because of my influence!), but some situations may cause their needs to outstrip their resources. For instance, a three day supply of food and water sounds great, until you find yourself in the middle of a seven day power outage.

So whether you have relatives that are in Ernesto’s path or not, make a commitment to talk to your friends and family about survival preparedness. And even if you don’t buy them gifts of emergency supplies (or send them a gift card), you can still direct them to the resources where they can acquire the items to help them survive without panic. Chances are, you’ll both sleep better at night.

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