Now that Hurricane Sandy has passed, now is the perfect time to understand why disaster preparedness is critical.
Although the Washington, D.C. area came through the storm relatively unscathed, other parts of the East Coast were not so lucky, and there were several things associated with this particular storm that highlight the fact that luck will never make up for good planning and being prepared in advance.
One of the things we saw happen with this storm was that all public transportation shut down for about a day and a half. Sandy was a good reminder that extremely rare events do sometimes happen and if you are asked to evacuate, it’s important not to wait until the last minute. Flooding is often a major factor in storm related deaths and it’s often because people assume they will have time to react without realizing how quickly a storm surge or flash flood can be upon them. It’s also important to always have a backup plan.
Many people were scrambling to find water, batteries and flashlights right before the storm. This is something that happens without fail any time there is a predicted weather event and could easily be avoided by keeping these items in a disaster kit in your house at all times. This storm also had a long build up time in terms of advance warning. This can lead to complacency and I should remind you that not all events requiring these supplies will be predictable and allow you the time to stock up beforehand.
A good disaster kit contains at least 72 hours worth of supplies to include water, non-perishable food, blankets, flashlights and batteries, a radio and a first aid kit. And if you have young children, it may be in your best interest to throw in something to keep them entertained.
The D.C. metropolitan area prepared for the worst with this storm and the worst didn’t happen. This is important to note because one thing I’ve learned in my years in emergency response is that when people are told something bad is going to happen and it doesn’t, they often tend to disregard warnings about the next event. Just because something didn’t happen, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. You can always hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. Hurricane season is almost over, but winter storms could be just around the corner and can be every bit as dangerous and damaging. If you prepared a disaster kit for this storm, set it aside (no matter how tempting that case of water and can of beef stew are looking right now) and for the winter, it’s important to add one to your car as well.
For more information on disaster preparedness, visit http://www.rea dy.navy.mil/.