An average family has talked about being better prepared but they generally have not acted upon that desire.  Even those in disaster prone areas never seem to get around to having key things in place to be considered “better prepared.”

1. Money is tight and they assume it will take a large sum to have the things they need
2. Busy lives equals little time to actually do what it takes to be prepared
3. Mistaken belief that it won’t happen here or if it does, not to me
4. It hasn’t happened for a long time therefore it won’t happen

None of these reasons are completely defensible.  One can take the time, can get around to it and can belief that it is prudent to be better prepared whether or not a disaster happens where they live.

It is better to be prepared 5 years too soon than 5 minutes too late.

Here are some thoughts on the above reasons for not being better prepared:

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Are Disasters Actually Occurring Far more Often?

Tornado and LightningMan Made and Natural Disasters

The disaster preparedness planning principles are exactly the same, the scenarios are not the same.
All you have to do is mention, “Gulf Oil Spill” and you will certainly get an instant opinion from most people who are around you. Indeed, it has undoubtedly turned into a incredibly hot topic even in the company of close friends. Yet, in light of the post question, one has to point out that very, very large oil spills are definitely not taking place very often, thank goodness. But, the Gulf Spill has gone way past everything we have witnessed previously - the unbridled discharge of oil from the bottom of the Gulf. Have other sorts of man made disasters also been increasing? Have you considered Wars, Cherynoble, A Bombs on Japan?

The oil spill could have been prevented and should have been prevented. Few man made disasters are unavoidable. We tend to cut corners in order to save money banking that nothing harmful is going to go wrong however in doing so we increase the likelihood that something bad may go wrong. Inspections and oversight were inadequate, procedures were neglected.

Quite a few have said that 9/11 could hardly have been prevented at the time but that actually isn’t accurate. Everyone is so used to relying upon what is, that most of us don’t think appropriately in regards to what could be with regards to preventing man made disasters. What happens if a huge gang of Taliban or Al-Qaeda cross the border from Mexico, obtain semi-automatic or fully automatic guns and enter into 25 large shopping malls and at the exact same moment open up fire on the shoppers? Do you find it so outlandish that we would dismiss it summarily? That is exactly what the “thinkers” did preceding 9/11. The scenario seemed simply too inconceivable. “They couldn’t fly a commercial plane even if they took over one.” “We would certainly stop them at the airport terminal.” “They wouldn't be in a position to threaten the flight crew since they would possess no weapon to accomplish this.” Hmm, that certainly didn’t deter the terrorists - they plan for months and months.

So, what exactly are we to do to be better prepared? For starters, we need to stop much of our one dimensional thinking which can be defined generally as one solution will correct the problem. If “this” takes place, then we do “that” and it will surely be stopped, thwarted, etc. But, in actuality, that is not an effective path to follow. I've seen it in my disaster travels so frequently. Katrina can be described as a perfect example of this - the city had a disaster plan, the state had a disaster plan however they just weren't adhered to all of the way. A levy break altered the predicament from severe winds into a horrible and destructive flood. Who would have thought? Well, had you been a disaster preparedness planner in New Orleans, you are aware that water is all around you and you really need to be geared up for the worst case scenario - which unfortunately occurred. In appropriate planning, any time a Hurricane approaches, you expect that the levy can and will break. So, a complete mandatory evacuation has to be ordered and all property owners, hospitals, rest homes, businesses etc. will need to evacuate. The buses run for individuals that are not able to evac on their own - this had been an element of the plan. The entire plan could have and really should have been adhered to for the health and safety of all involved. Making a presumption that we are going to be fine because the wind speed will not likely cause a catastrophic disaster is definitely a inaccurate and hazardous assumption. Emergency Managers have guidelines to adhere to in identifying the time and type of an evacuation. Virtually all members of the evacuation and response team are required to follow the plan which also enables them to get their own families evacuated.

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Recommended Items For Premium Emergency Kit

Disaster Survival KitAll too often, people find themselves unprepared for disasters or serious events. Sometimes they don’t have the materials, often they don’t have the knowledge of what to get and even if they do, they procrastinate the purchase of the items that would make a disaster more tolerable. Anyone can put together an extensive kit if they do it on a monthly basis. Put it in a back pack, a small garbage can on wheels. The Key is: It can be grabbed and moved on the run.

Basic Food Items

• Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) – simple, complete including their own heating source
• Power Bars – great items – small but powerful – but they get old fast
• Dehydrated Dry Packs – soup, drinks etc. – you just need water
• Hard Tack Candy – everyone needs something sweet – can be sugar free

Non-Food Items

• Roll of Duct Tape
• Garbage Bags – Large and Small
• Leather Gloves
• 20’ of rope 3/8” and lashing rope
• Ground Tarps – 8×10 (2)
• Lock Back Knife
• Non Latex Exam Gloves – box
• Sterile Abdominal Pads – 8”x10”
• N95 Respirator Masks – Box
• Thermal Space Blankets – 84”x52” – for each person
• Drinking Water Pouches 4oz  Case
• Whistle – emergency – loud
• Aluminum Flashlight – Solar and or hand charge
• Glow Sticks
• Cooking Source – canned heat, propane stove
• Cooking Pans/Utensils – compact travel type
• Professional First Aid Kit – 52 piece in durable case
• Rain Gear – Poncho, Boots, Pants
• Radio – solar or hand charge
• Toiletries – portable (5 Gal Plastic with seat)
• Sanitary conversion formula
• Hand Sanitizer
• Toothbrush and Toothpaste
• Kleenex
• Toilet Paper
• Cloths soap – 5 Gal Bucket
• Towels
• Army Shovel
• Compass
• Folding Saw
• Water Proof Matches
• Small Tent
• 2 Pair of Clothing for each person
• Safety Goggles
• Magnesium Fire Starter Kit (tinder pack)
• Lantern
• Bug Spray – Liquid
• Signaling Mirror
• Dunk Bag/Duffle
• Memo Pad and Pencil
• Two Step Water Treatment Purifier
• Utility Tool
• GPS Tracker – Rescue
• Siphon Pump
• Gas Can
• Tie Down Straps
• Hammer
• Wire Cutters
• Disposable Camera
• Baby Wipes
• Eye Wash
• Prescription Drugs and supply of over the counter
• CPR Mask
• CASH – at least $2-300 in smaller denominations
• Gas/Water Shut Off Tool
• Can Opener
• Candles

*** All Kits must be assembled, put in a transport container such as a backpack or 5 Gal Plastic Bucket, and placed where it can be easily grabbed and carried away. If you shelter at home, you still have it.

Disaster Preparedness NOTE: Millions of People have been evacuated at a single time away from their homes or in some disasters they are stuck in their home or a nearby shelter following a large event. I have been there for the last 25 years helping victims – they are unprepared by far – most without anything. We spend so much money on semi-useful items and little on what would be life saving items that it is almost a crime. Billions of dollar loss can happen on large events – most people do not have the right insurance coverage for “Acts of God” – Earthquakes, Tornados, Hurricanes, Floods etc.

The Reason – normal home owner’s policies exclude them as a rule – a pipe may bust and flood your house – you are covered, but if the creek overflows you are not. You must put a rider and coverage in your policy for a type of extended risk for your area – Earthquake, Flood, High Winds, Tornado, Tree falling on house etc.

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Without a Business Continuity Plan Are Businesses really prepared?

Hurricane Ivan Destroyed Business

We often think that the big boys have all of the answers because they have a lot of money and full time employees devoted to getting a business continuity plan prepared. Although some of that is true, there is a difference in just putting things on paper to satisfy auditors and management and actually thinking critically about it. Developing a strategy with key tatical procedures that actually work is more important than all of the ink money can buy.

I just talked with a couple of large consulting companies wanting me to use them to put together a BCP (business continuity plan) for my company. The first one put on a SME (subject matter expert) who took the next 45 minutes to explain how they help companies build a proper business continuity plan. It was boring to say the least. It was filled with all of the basic elements of BCP, i.e., conduct a BIA, build strategies, do a risk assessment, get management on board, and get everyone everywhere to buy into your plan. I was summarily disappointed in the fact that not once did he try to find out what I had already accomplished as a BCP Planner. Does he really think we sit on our hands and hope for someone to come along and tell us what to do?

Are large businesses that far behind that they have to be told what a BCP program is? Unfortunately the answer is yes for about 50% of them. These guys make a living off of talking about the basics and then getting companines to do the basics – for a sizeable fee! Unfortunately, not all planning is the same even at large companies. I have seen the plans of others and they are text book in nature – if they didn’t pay for them, then they took a template off of the internet and filled it out. THIS WILL NOT DO!

We can’t be that dumb – to think that one type of shoe fits all and will work for all is crazy. Try jogging in you best formal shoes! They are a shoe and you can run in them but not very far. The same is true for a company business continuity plan. If it doesn’t fit, you will fail somewhere when you really can’t afford to. So the moral to the story is that a planner must first learn to think properly in order to plan properly. If you think like a normal person does, you will write a plan that has only one solution to every scenario. When that solution doesn’t work – you fail. The World Trade Tower failure points out that no one planned properly because they didn’t think properly. They stopped at the point where they said to themselves, “this scenario could never happen, we would stop them at the airport.” Yup, that worked really well.

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