Are You Organized Enough For an Emergency?
I love these ads. Somehow, I've been nearby to historical disasters whenever they've hit this continent. Over the years, I've learned a little about emergency preparedness.
Just for fun, here's a brief rundown of real emergency situations I’ve lived through:
- Houston, 1983, Hurricane Alicia
- Santa Clarita, 1994, Northridge Earthquake
- New York City, 2001, 9/11
- New York City, 2003, Electricity Blackout
- New York City, 2012, Hurricane Sandy
For an earthquake, there is no preparing. Not really. During the Northridge Earthquake, I lived in Santa Clarita, a cluster of towns cut off from Los Angeles due to chunks of freeway collapsing. Close enough to really feel that 6.8 Richter scale - unheard of in Houston or Chicago where I grew up. For three days there was no power, no supplies, no stores were open, and no where to go. We were in a state of emergency.
Perhaps for a city in terms of emergency crews, alternate routes and protocols, yes. For what you do you need when one hits and your windows blow out? You need your wits to move quickly and get out of the building. After that it's a community cook-out because everyone's freezer has thawed.
You can find emergency preparedness lists online. Here's one from nyc.gov:
Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit
Keep enough supplies in your home to survive for at least three days. Store these materials in an easily accessible container or cupboard, and update them twice a year at daylight-saving times. Suggested items are available online or at your local grocery, drug, or army supply store. They include:
- One gallon of drinking water per person per day
- Nonperishable, ready-to-eat canned foods and manual can opener
- First aid kit
- Flashlight Battery-operated AM/FM radio and extra batteries
- Whistle Iodine tablets or one quart of unscented bleach (for disinfecting water ONLY if directed to do so by health officials) and eyedropper (for adding bleach to water)
- Phone that does not require electricity
I always believe in these lists, but it can be hard to remember to refresh the food, water and check the batteries. Also, don't pack your closets too tight so that getting to the kit is difficult. It should be very grab and go.
One thing I'd add - an extra pair of shoes for you and every member of the family. For some reason, shoes are hard to locate when you're freaking out and have to leave super fast.
Of course, I can't imagine what the next disaster could be. Living in New York City, it could be a bad hurricane season, apartment building fire or gas explosion. You never know.
So no matter the organizational state of your home, be very serious about this. Make a basic kit and keep it somewhere. You will be so very grateful to have what you need in the scary aftermath of any emergency situation.
If any part of you hesitates to add this to your to-do list, remember this anecdote:
One month or so prior to Hurricane Sandy, my 6 year old son was obsessed with hurricanes and tornadoes he had read about in the Eyewitness series of educational books. I told him it would never happen in New York City, that we were too far north for anything more than leftover storms from hurricanes. It never happened and it never will. Until it did.
We were only moderately prepared during Hurricane Sandy. I had batteries, candles, flashlights, radio and all important papers together in a waterproof tote. Of course, I didn't need to evacuate or even do without electricity. But it did feel good to know we could weather a storm in the city.