Dinner Table Conversation: How Do You Prepare for a Disaster?

September 29, 2017

One of the key roles of government is to prepare its citizens for disasters. Whether anticipating or managing natural disasters, leaders need a plan in place to keep people in their communities safe.

Take Hurricane Harvey, for example, which recently stormed through parts of Texas and Louisiana. When news hit the airwaves about the approaching hurricane, evacuation plans were made for low-lying areas that were prone to flooding. Sandbags, as well as buses and other modes of transportation (even boats!), were dispatched to these areas to help potentially stranded people.

By U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Zachary West [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Firefighters skilled in rescuing people from dangerous locations were deployed from other parts of the country. Supplies were also available for families who might need to evacuate from their homes. Across the world, Hong Kong prepared for Typhoon Hato in late August by closing offices and schools and warning people to stay inside. Heavy winds and rains meant people wandering outside could get hit by flying debris. In India, where monsoons are common during the summer and early fall months, storm drains are evaluated to see if they are working properly. In Mexico, cities across the country simulate disasters and conduct evacuation and rescue drills every year on September 19th.

But it’s not just up to the government to be prepared—it’s up to every single person as well! In the United States, September is National Preparedness Month. This year’s theme is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” Mother Nature can sometimes be unpredictable, so it’s best to be prepared throughout the year. What are some things that organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest you do to plan and prepare for a disaster? Here are a few to get you started:

1) Make an emergency plan with your family so everyone knows what to do in case of a disaster. Who’s responsible for what? Where will you meet in case you get separated? Where are all of the emergency supplies?

By Red Cross (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
2) Make or get an emergency supply kit. What are some things that you’ll need in case of an emergency? Water, food, flashlights, shoes, medicines, batteries, first-aid kits, cell phones, chargers, money, whistles … Can you think of anything else?

3) Practice your plan and stay informed.

What are other ways to prepare for a disaster? Do you know what your community does to prepare for disasters?