You may have observed that I try to post every Sunday.
It was my intention to post a (blog) on seismic activity in the Caribbean and relate it to the disaster in Haiti.
However, this weekend, I spend so much time coughing, my diaphragm aches. I will be visiting my doctor again Monday and possibly heading to the hospital.
In my stockpile of pre-written materials (kept for just such an emergency), I have an blog on disaster preparedness. We frequently hear public service announcements on the radio advising us that every family should have a disaster plan. Recent events are just one more reminder that when the disaster strikes, it is too late to put together a plan.
I am very privileged to have among my friends Rob Moore, the owner of Moore Funeral Home. Rob's modesty would not allow me to recount all of his credits and accolades, but allow me to inform you that he was with a fire company in the San Francisco Bay area during the big earthquake, he testified before Congress on disaster preparedness, and is on the Indiana Governor's Counsel for Disaster Preparedness.
Listening to him give a program on that subject was eye opening to say the least.
You may be asking, since earthquakes are rare in this area and hurricanes are not possible, why do we need to worry about disaster preparedness? From time to time, we have blizzards and tornado outbreaks. Did you know that the railroad tracks through Carbon are among the busiest in the country? What if there is a derailment and tank cars start leaking toxic substances? Disasters can be both natural and man-made. Shockingly, Indiana really does have more potential terrorist targets than most other states. Such things were put here exactly because who would think that they would be in Indiana/
If a disaster were to occur, you could reasonably expect that local emergency responders would effectively begin responding within 30 minutes. With a large scale emergency, it is reasonable to expect up to 24 hours before receiving services from local emergency responders. Due to logistics, state emergency responders would start effectively responding within 24 hours. You could reasonably expect that in a wide spread disaster to wait up to 48 hours before receiving first assistance from a state assistance group. Again, due to logistics, it will take up to three days before federal disaster relief would begin to arrive.
Every home should be prepared to be totally self-sufficient for at least three days. What does that mean? While every family may have unique circumstances, each home should consider the following: gathering together in one place the current addresses and telephone numbers of your relatives and a designated contact person if you and your children should get separated. At least three days of important medications kept with your disaster supplies, NOT in your medicine cabinet. The same is also true with an old pair of glasses or contact supplies. Financial gurus will tell you that you should have at least $1,000 saved somewhere to keep "Murphy" at bay. At least some of that should be in your home in the form of a couple rolls of quarters and some $1 bills so you can operate vending machines if you have to suddenly leave.
You should also have three days of food and water in your home. Modern camping food and army surplus meals ready to eat will stay air and water tight virtually forever and are safe to eat at least 10 years after their date of manufacture. Your disaster kit should also have a couple of inexpensive rain ponchos, one or two old blankets, and a first aid kit. Everything should be kept in an easily accessible container that you can grab and go.
My wife works for the Indiana Attorney General and commutes to Indianapolis every day. We keep in the trunk of her car a gym bag with two meals ready to eat, a red bath towel, which can also be used as a blanket or a red signal flat, a couple bottles of water, a rain poncho, a small candle and matches, a roll of quarters, some dollar bills, and some gas money, a can opener, and a camping fork, spoon and knife. The glove box of the car has a flash light, a Leatherman type multi-tool and some zip ties.
With a drive of 120 miles per day, we can never rule out some event that may leave her on the side of the road for a day. Additionally, if there was a tanker spill, we could quickly grab a few things and get into her car and know that we would be alright until we could get to a relative.
Personally, I hope that $100 or so dollars I spent on our disaster preparedness was totally wasted, just like the helmet I bought for my motorcycle. But like that helmet, if the moment comes when I need it, it will be too late if it is not already in place.
I am not aware of any particular disaster looming on the horizon. However, as head of household, it gives me a little extra pride to know that we are prepared. It also gives me just a little extra piece of mind, like my life insurance policy, to know that my family has an extra advantage if something terrible should hapen.