Disaster Preparedness: You Need To Be Your Own First Responder

Take one look at Puerto Rico or any other disaster scenario around the world and you can see that disaster preparedness is the most important backup insurance you can have. With every recent disaster running agencies thin, you need to be your own first responder without the need to rely on disaster-response agencies.

Nearly 200 Million people are impacted by disasters each year, and another 99,000 are killed. And this doesn’t include the widespread displacement from homes, severe injuries, sicknesses and post-traumatic stress that come with disasters. With these figures, it is understandable that disaster response agencies and emergency services have been running regular ‘disaster preparedness’ campaigns in many western and Asian countries as they encourage citizens to start taking care for their own survival in emergencies and disasters.

This is why your government is encouraging you to take matters into your own hands. You cannot rely on the immediate rescue or help from emergency services, as they are spread thin assisting others in dire circumstances and less fortunate than you.

Disaster preparedness is not an anti-government term. For myself, and a lot of The Prepping Guide’s readers, we can count on disaster response agencies such as Red Cross, FEMA and the Salvation Army. But that is only when they arrive and have enough supplies to provide the large quantities of disaster victims.

In every disaster we have seen recently, these agencies have been overwhelmed with requests, responses, and strategies. With that in mind, taking things into your own hands is necessary for your survival and for that of anyone else with you.

Why is disaster preparedness so important?

Preparedness is knowing that emergency services will not be able to assist you, and that in the first few hours or even days of a disaster, you are the only person that can help you and your family or friends. In this circumstance, it is not about being a hero, it is simply about safety and survival.

In a recent study published in The Prepping Guide, it was revealed that only 2.7% of Americans considered themselves preppers. Now sure, preppers can get a pretty bad name as far as the popular media would make of it, but even if we included the ‘closet’ preppers in that sense, the statistic is far too low.

In Australia, the UK, Germany and Japan, the statistics for preparedness individuals are even lower. Yet as half of the world has been faced with extreme weather conditions over the past two year alone, preparedness is still quite a low trend amongst people.

This low statistic is due to the large volumes of people that believe emergency services will provide them with backup food and assistance in a disaster, but that is not the case, and many Government emergency agencies are pushing the agenda that disaster preparedness is as much a self-responsible issue as it is a Government issue.

If you think preparedness is not important, take one look at your local government’s disaster preparedness website. The following sites all provide that you need to prepare your own emergency response:

All of these point to one key in disaster preparedness, which is that you cannot rely on government services to help you and that you must take matters into your own hands.

How you can manage your own disaster preparedness

Disaster preparedness is easy, so stay calm.

Disaster preparedness is not something just reserved for emergency professionals, it is something you can do right now with the bare basics you have in your home and the people around you.

For your own disaster preparedness, there are three simple things you need to do:

  1. Sign up for alerts with your local disaster and emergency agency
  2. Gather supplies for at least 72 hours
  3. Make a plan with your loved ones

These three things are the basic requirements to be prepared for any disaster that comes your way and so that you are able to help yourself and your loved ones in an emergency.

So let’s take a look at each one of those.

1. Sign up for alerts

disaster preparedness

Most government agencies and emergency services have text-based emergency warning systems in place to alert residents and visitors of an impending emergency or disaster. Some are more developed than others and not only do they notify you in advance of emergencies, but some also allow you to notify family members that you are okay and unnaffected by a disaster.

Here are just a few of the alert systems around the world:

Subscribing or becoming familiar with these emergency alert systems, as well as your local shire emergency initiatives, such as San Francisco’s emergency preparedness hub SF72, will provide with a stronger awareness of what is happening, where you should go, and what is going to happen.

2. Gather supplies

Gathering supplies for a disaster preparedness kit is dead easy, and it should be done as it is something will come in use for personal disasters as well as national or local disasters. You would also be quite surprised to see how much you actually already have in your home.

Here is what is going to help you be your own first responder in an emergency. These items are only for you, so if you have family or friends, consider putting some extra supplies aside for them too.

For a three-day or 72-hour disaster preparedness kit, these things are the most necessary:

  1. Water: one gallon, per person, per day
  2. First-aid kit: a simple compact kit to patch up grazes and cuts
  3. Flashlight and batteries
  4. Fire extinguisher
  5. Can opener
  6. Non-perishable food (Here’s a list of 20 non-perishable food types)

You will find these things useful in a disaster preparedness kit:

  1. Good shoes
  2. Thermal blanket
  3. Hand crank radio with a USB charger
  4. Cash
  5. Sleeping bag
  6. Cell phone charger
  7. Simple building or repair tools

And for disaster preparedness, there are also some personal items that you will find will cater to you:

  1. Medical prescriptions
  2. Candy
  3. Toothbrush, toilet paper, and other sanitation items
  4. Personal documents, passports, and licenses
  5. Kid’s toys or pet’s toys

3. Make a plan

The premise of disaster preparedness is to plan ahead, that’s what you are doing with the alert subscriptions, the supplies, and that’s what you are doing just reading this post, you are planning ahead.

But while you are at it, it would be a good step to make a plan for a disaster with your family or friends. The most important part of this is knowing how you will get in touch with your people when a disaster occurs. These connections are not only so you can survive together, but because more minds together are better than one.

Talking to your family and friends about an emergency preparedness plan also lets them know you take this issue quite serious, and it might encourage them to also seek out their own preparedness methods by having their own disaster kit packed away. So spread the word.

Some basic things you might want to include in a disaster preparedness plan are:

  1. Who will you want to reach out to when something happens? Family, friends or neighbors?
  2. Who could be a possible team leader of information in your area to organize a meetup?
  3. Where are some possible safe places you could meet up that are central to your combined locations?

In a communications plan for a disater, to make communication more easy, after you have decided the group you want to work with, make a group messaging conversation through whatever messager you use, whether it be Facebook Messenger, Whattsapp, or anything other multi-user messaging service. Something that enables you to:

  • Group message in a disaster
  • Share your location
  • Add photos of places that are flooded or high amounts of traffic
  • Share a location of a meetup point
  • What will you do if communication lines are down?

Disaster preparedness learning

More and more as I research and speak to professionals in the world of preparedness, I see trends from emergency response services and government agencies pushing citizens to make their own safety arrangements.

This is a similar issue to healthy foods and healthy eating, while government’s try to address the problem through campaigns and strategies, in the end, we are responsible for our own choices. As preparedness becomes a more popular issue in society, start considering your own approach to preparedness and what you would do if something were to happen in your area.

Preparedness isn’t about EMP attacks, or war and riots, it’s just answering two simple questions:

  • What would you do if…?
  • Can you do it now?

If not, then start working towards that.

Let me know your thoughts on this topic!