I have volunteered in disaster work for several years now and having some experience with disasters I am frequently asked, “How should I prepare for a disaster?”. Since this is a common question, I thought I would put out a simple list down to help people.
Before the list, I think a big part of disaster preparedness is education. I advise you to take the time to learn how to save a life. You can go online a find a First Aid, CPR, and AED (automated external defibrillator) course near you. Personally, I’ve been able to save lives with CPR and first aid. I now teach these courses in my area and I know for a fact they will help you in an emergency to save a life. These courses are not difficult and will build your confidence on how to react and what do when a disaster strikes. Here is a link to The American Red Cross https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class, but you can go to the American Heart Association or there is plethora of others available. Find one that works for you and your schedule.
One of the things I have learned from being assigned to a disaster team is that the people we find in that are victims of a disaster are usually near their house or near their car.
Make an Emergency / Disaster Preparedness First Aid Kit
Knowing that people are often near their vehicles, I tell people to outfit their car with a comprehensive first aid kit to include at least:
- 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
- 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
- 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
- 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
- 5 antiseptic wipe packets
- 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
- 1 emergency blanket
- 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
- 1 instant cold compress
- 2 pair of non-latex gloves (size: large)
- 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
- 1 gauze roll bandage (3 inches wide)
- 1 gauze roll bandage (4 inches wide)
- 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
- 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
- Oral thermometer (non-mercury / non-glass)
- 2 triangular bandages
- First aid instruction booklet
Supplement it with: liquid Benadryl, chewable aspirin, Pedialyte (1 package or 1 liquid), sanitary napkins for big wounds, clotting powder or corn starch, super glue (yes it’s good for wound care), sterile eyewash, burn cream with pain relief, sturdy tweezers and scissors.
Put a blanket in your car. When someone has suffered trauma, whether it be physical or psychological, wrapping a blanket around the victim helps them to feel safe. In disaster preparedness, being able to provide comfort is important and a blanket can do just that.
At least two bottles of water. A person can ration and stretch-out the consumption of water to help them to stay hydrated until help comes.
Some non-perishable food. A general list of non-perishable foods can include:
- Beef Jerky.
- Granola Bars.
- Dried Pasta (ramen noodles, macaroni, spaghetti, etc.)
- Trail Mix (especially the nuts)
- Canned Foods (meats, vegetables, fruits, soups)
What Else to Expect in a Disaster
When we find people in disasters, they don’t realize how broad the devastation of a disaster usually is. Meaning they had an impression that they would be rescued quickly, yet in reality they were stranded for weeks. In working with my disaster team, we have come across people who’ve been stranded near their car for weeks and if they only had had some water and food in their vehicles their time waiting to be rescued would’ve been much easier.
“If we do our part with disaster preparedness for the unlikely and unthinkable, our chances for survival increase exponentially. “
If I’ve learned anything from working disasters is that they are happening more frequently and are almost everywhere these days. If we do our part with disaster preparedness for the unlikely and unthinkable, our chances for survival increase exponentially. This is a small and doable list. Be kind to yourself and your family. Properly outfit your vehicles. All of my vehicles have a backpack that contains the items listed above. It doesn’t take up much room and are easily accessible. My lists come from the Red Cross for whom I volunteer, but you find other sources online with other lists that are equally as good. Find the one that works for you in your climate, environment, and local hazards.
If you have questions regarding disaster preparedness feel free to reach out to me with questions. I’m happy to help!