Domestic terrorism, cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure, climate change… the perfect storm.
Don’t call yourself paranoid, just prepared. A reasonable person would want to have a backup plan to counter the growing number of intimidating events like a cyber-attack on critical infrastructure, a tornado or hurricane, power outage, wildfire, domestic terror attack, a heat wave with temperatures soaring above 120 degrees… any event that may separate you and your loved ones from the necessities of life. You can still maintain your family’s well-being by being prepared.
Natural disasters and emergencies may not normally occur while you are at home where your emergency supplies and food storage are kept. Because of this, it is important to have an emergency plan for the various places your family spends time. Our homes, schools and workplaces should have site-specific preparations for an emergency.
Think about what you have at your office that will help you get through an urgent situation. Maybe you have a candy bar, a package of stale donuts in your desk drawer or maybe just an old pack of chewing gum. At least that’s a start!
Do you even know if your company has an evacuation plan or how to use that plan? The following are some simple ideas to help you feel safe at work, even during an emergency. Keep a backpack or duffle bag of your own personal supplies in a desk drawer. This pack could include the following:
*Flashlight with extra batteries
*Emergency bag or blanket (very compact and made of a special material that reflects up to 90% of your body heat)
*Food (high calorie food bars, MREs, granola bars, fruit bars, candy bars, crackers, fruit leather, raisins, nuts, prepackaged foods, etc.)
*Water pouches or juice boxes
*Pair of walking shoes
*Mini first aid kit (adhesive bandages, rolled bandages for sprains, pain reliever, any medication you need, gauze, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic first aid cream, etc.)
If your company doesn’t have an evacuation plan, volunteer to prepare one. Make sure there is a good, designated meeting location that every employee knows where to go to. Learn where the exit routes in your building are and know where the fire extinguishers and first aid kits are located.
Just in case, carry a card in your wallet or purse that has important phone numbers including the number of your out-of-state phone contacts. Keep the area under your desk free of trash cans and clutter. This area is the best place to secure yourself in the event of an earthquake.
Schools should already have an emergency plan to make sure your children are safe, but do you know enough about it to explain it to them? Contact your school district to find out about its emergency plan and the policy on how children will be released from school.
Lastly, here are 15 Reasons why you should prepare for the unexpected:
*Pets: Your pets are important members of the family, so be sure to include them in your disaster preparedness plan. You’ll need an evacuation strategy, and every pet should have proper ID tags in case it becomes separated from the family.
*Earthquakes: It may surprise you to learn that earthquakes have occurred in nearly all 50 states. Seismic activity can disrupt communities and displace families for weeks.
*Floods: Virtually every community in the United States has endured a flood after severe rain and thunderstorm. Never underestimate how quickly waters can rise.
*Terrorist attack: The Oklahoma City bombing and attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon changed our lives forever. Terrorists strike without warning, so every family must have a terrorism preparedness plan. You could be affected by a Cyber, dirty bomb, chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack.
*Thunderstorms: Bad storms can be particularly frightening when they’re accompanied by heavy rain, hail, lightning, strong winds, flooding, and tornadoes — and conditions can change rapidly.
*Tornados: Twisters can wipe out entire towns within minutes. If you live in a tornado-prone state, you also need to prepare for the severe weather that can accompany them.
*Tsunamis: Remember the Indonesian tsunami? It demonstrated how a powerful earthquake can propel tidal waves hundreds of miles into dry land. While tsunamis are rare, all states with coastlines are at potential risk.
*Volcanoes: They are not limited to Hawaii. (Remember Mount St. Helens in Washington?) The United States ranks third among nations with active volcanoes, and 10% of eruptions over the last 10,000 years have occurred here.
*Droughts: If you live in an area plagued by drought conditions, it’s critical to take steps to protect community water supplies. Learn how to conserve water when performing routine household tasks.
*Wildfires: Urban sprawl has prompted builders to develop residential communities in previously uninhabited areas. An errant spark in surrounding brush can ignite wildfires that threaten hundreds of homes and thousands of acres. Texas recently battled over 60 separate wildfires that have burned downed hundreds of homes and residential neighborhoods.
*Winter storms: Many of us underestimate the brute force and potential lethality of winter storms, which can cripple communities of all sizes. Preparedness is the key to surviving a blizzard or nor’easter.
*Blackout and power outages: As the United States copes with the energy crisis, the federal government anticipates an increase in blackouts and power outages — particularly when demand for electricity peaks. The nationwide power grid is all connected and is also vulnerable to terrorist attack.
*House fire: Fires are the fourth-leading cause of accidental death in the United States and the disaster families are most likely to experience. Flames can engulf an entire home in a matter of minutes.
*Hurricanes: Due to Global Warming, each year is becoming the “Year of the Hurricane” as the number of tropical storms break 100-year-old records almost annually. More than 600,000 square miles of land are routinely affected — and climate experts expect more “whirlwind” years to come.
*Mudslides: As heavy rains saturate hillsides, the risk of mudslides, mudflows and landslides rises nationwide. Slides can occur in any state, and they cause an estimated $2 billion in damages and 25–50 deaths each year.
It is important to think ahead and communicate with others in advance. By following these guidelines, you will be better prepared to safely reunite with loved ones after an emergency.
Robert Morton is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), enjoys writing about the U.S. Intelligence Community, and relishes traveling to the Florida Keys and Key West, the Bahamas and Caribbean. He combines both passions in his Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster series. Check out his latest spy thriller: MISSION OF VENGEANCE.