Always Expect the Unexpected in a Disaster

  1. GPS1504
    Talking about preparing for catastrophic natural disasters and actually doing so are two very different things. Living in an area where hurricane season rules half of the year, I am well aware of the dangers of storms and why it is necessary to prepare. I learned the hard way, much like many other people, just how dangerous a major hurricane can be. As a transplant from Las Vegas, Nevada to the Gulf Coast, I remember looking around at all of the old homes on coastline and thinking that hurricanes cannot be that bad if those houses have made it all those years. Well, I was wrong. Most of those houses are gone now, courtesy of Hurricane Katrina.


    When an evacuation is called for your area, there is a reason. The authorities do not ask you to leave your homes and businesses for the heck of it. They do it for a reason, that being so you do not die there. They also do it so they do not die trying to rescue you. If danger is coming, get out of its way rather than staying put and tempting fate because fate has a way of rising to the occasion.

    If you live far enough inland or away from disaster hot spots that you can realistically survive without requiring assistance, make preparations to get through the trying times that will surely come. Electricity and running water will be luxuries lost after a disaster. Flushing the toilet will happen once with the water already in the reservoir, so make that flush count. Be sure to have water on hand, both for drinking and refilling that toilet tank. It is generally recommended that you fill your bathtub, but also necessary is making sure your bathtub does not have a slow leak or else that water will slowly escape and leave you with nothing. Having buckets to trap rain water will be very helpful to you as well, but do not use them during strong winds or they may blow away and never be seen again.

    Do not unnecessarily open your fridge. If you have food items inside, open and close the fridge quickly, deliberately grabbing what you want. Do not peruse the selection as that wastes precious cold that is trapped inside, letting it escape and allowing your food to get warmer, faster. The same applies to your freezer. If it helps, make a list of the perishable items in your fridge before the power goes down so you can look at the list and make a decision rather than poking through the fridge. Coolers with ice are also wise to have; in past storm experience, food stored in coolers full of ice lasted far longer than food stored in a refrigerator. When fridge food starts to get past its prime, throw it away. Do not waste time being nostalgic about what you should have eaten. The smell of rotten food will permeate everything and in a stale environment without airflow will be hard to overcome.

    Sight-seeing after a disaster is also not wise. It is normal to be curious and to want to check on friends, relatives, and workplaces, but you have to remember your limitations, specifically those of your gas tank. You will not be able to buy gas after a disaster, so it is important to conserve what you already have, especially if you will have to evacuate after a disaster or travel a great distance for continued supplies. Running your vehicle to charge devices such as cell phones is a waste of time and gas; those devices will not work in a mass power outage anyway, so to charge them in a running vehicle is wasting precious fuel.

    Do not expect salvation. While the National Guard moving in with truckloads of water and MRE's is a nice sight, never rely on that alone to get you through. Far too many people have grown complacent and expect to be taken care of after a storm. In their minds, they 'know' the National Guard is coming, so they fail to make preparations. Circumstance can rear its ugly head and prevent help from accessing you, so always have what you need to survive on hand.

    Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. This applies not just in a disaster, but in life. Expect the unexpected. Prepare for the worst but hope for the best. Many clichs apply here, and they may seem silly but they hold truth. Do what it takes to ensure your safety and survival. Do not become a statistic.

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