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Post Disasters - First 72 hours are critical. Are you ready?

The introduction to my classes includes a discussion on "mindset" and not being a part of the "90%" who are not prepared. We discuss the importance in understanding when the clock starts towards the first 72 hours. For the individual(s) who are prepared, the first 72 hours will be critical to make final adjustments to personal preparedness plans and go to your Bug In location or break out your Bug Out plan and move fast. I lean more towards the first 24 to 48 hours to make the move to relocate out of the populated areas. Remember, you do not want to be around when supplies start drying up. When the 18 wheelers can't deliver, you will have three days maximum supplies. Game on.

Will the utilities be working or not?

The answer to this question will depend on your location, the degree of the event that took out your utilities, the number of downed utility poles and transformers, condition of the road to get utility crews to your location, and how you rack and stack as a priority to other areas needing electricity to be restored. Critical infrastructure will be a higher priority.

So my question to you is this, how will you survive with no utilities? Is it winter time? How will you stay warm? How will you prepare food? Does your water rely on utilities to pump the water to your home? Are you in an apartment and depend on the elevator to get to the ground floor? Toilets? Have you considered a secondary method for sanitation if you can't flush your toilet? If you have to boil your water to sanitize it, what will be your heat source?

If you aren't prepared and you run to the store at the last minute, can you even get cash to make the purchase? Remember, if utilities are down your ATM and Credit Card will not work? Now what? Personally, you shouldn't be in the place to begin with. You DO NOT want to be in the crowd with the last minute shoppers because I can tell you from past experience, it is crazy, not safe and you do not want to be part of it. Think about it.

Speaking of crazy, there will be no more supplies:

Did you get that? Sometimes when I attempt to get this across to others I get this "yea right" look attitude. My smiling response is "go for it" but don't call me when you find out the truth. In many regions of the world I witnessed this first hand. And one can recently witness this in Venezuela. It is ugly. Kindness is gone out the windows. When you have five families and one can of beans, may the best man win. I won't know who wins because I am prepared and will not be around to witness the craziness.

In addition to the craziness, you have to consider the extent of the disaster and impact on the ability to restore supply and demand needs. Do not become a part of the craziness. Your goal is to separate from the unprepared and be at your safe location while the nuts are cracking each others shells.

So what do you need? You can look at other recent blog posts on emergency kits and tornado preparedness and see items recommended. Personally, I went beyond the simple emergency kit and stretched our preparedness past the basic set up. Personal choice. When you do your list, think of the things you need. Not just food. Fuel, cash, batteries, lights, protection... What if the event is a flood and you have to leave your home. Can you move some of your prepared items with you and protect from the water? Have you considered using rubber/plastic totes using rope or paracord to tie around and pull the tote(s)? Be creative and don't wait on someone else to do it for you. Remember, become self-dependent. Your life may depend on it.

No one is coming for you:

I am a firm believer that individuals should build their plans on the assumption they are on their own. If someone can come, great. If not, don't die because you failed to prepare your own plan. Every time you take a drink of water each day tell yourself "self-sufficiency" is my new way.

The federal government has a three-tiered system for dealing with disasters

First tier - Residents and loal governments

Second tier - State government

Third tier - Federal government

In order to understand the comment you often hear, "there is no one coming for you" one needs understand the structure and magnitude of how disasters work. All disasters are managed at the local level. FEMA is not local government. If called upon, FEMA responds from regions after a disaster declaration is requested and approved. It is the responsibility of the local mayor and state governor to identify the needs of the people and then pass this information to FEMA. So, think about this, when the local news is lining up and broadcasting every poor soul who is thirsty and hungry and then chastising the government, do you want to be part of this? Would you not prefer to prepare before the event and smile because you took care of you and your family? You need to decide; if you will evacuate or stay in place, if you evacuate how will you do it. and how will you stay safe if you shelter-in-place? The degree of the disaster may help determine what you should or should not do.

Injuries in the first 72 hours:

The first 72 hours post disaster is critical. For example in an earthquake, finding survivors is critical. Or, maybe in a flood from a tornado or hurricane, finding trapped individuals holding on to rooftops and downed trees submerged in water. You get the point. There could be so many injuries sustained as a result of the event. How will you handle it and can you handle it on your own?

When would you evacuate?

Determining when you should evacuate is dependent on the severity of the storm or threat, How much time will you have between gaining knowledge of the threat and any mandatory evacuation orders or final decisions to leave. But, do not wait until the last minute to evacuate because you now are thrown in with the 90% gang trying to leave. Not the place you want to be. Your mind is the greatest tool you have. You can train it to help keep you alive or not train it and be like the remaining unprepared. Your decision.

What happens after 72 hours?

Do you remember Hurricane Katrina? How about that. Citizens stealing from citizens. Robbing, raping, murdering each other. Peaceful today and total craziness tomorrow. One of the biggest things I deal with when training the untrainable is listening to the minds that refuse to accept they are not invincible. It is a reminder to me to take note that this is possibly another person will likely end up a statistic or standing on someones front door beggging for food and water.

Okay, that was pretty harsh huh? If you think so, you may wish to not attend any of my training classes in person. Ha. Ha. Do you know that:

- Most Americans do not have copies of critical documents of their personal property, finances and personal life?

- About 50% have zero readiness supplies in their home. The reasoning is not important. The result is what concerns me.

- About 50% have not established a designated Rally Point to meet with their children in the event of a disaster taking place while separated. I cover this in my Family Communication Plan Course. Critical to a family staying together.

- About 42% of cell phone users do not know phone numb.ers to their immediate family

Here is a simple plan for readiness. Let's call it the Common Sense Plan:

Make a Disaster Preparedness Plan

Does my face look blue? Well if you could see it, you may say yes. Ha Ha. I have talked on this topic until I'm blue in the face. What is so hard about understanding this? You need to do some research and understand all the different possibilities. Ice, snow, earthquake, EMP, CME, fire, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding... It would be easy to say no big deal until you research statistics and ask why humans make some of the choices they make. We take risks. We accept vulnerabilities and think it will never happen. It does happen.

Stay informed about disasters:

How will you become informed when a disaster is near? Sign up for alerts on your mobile devices. Understand how sirens work and what they are telling you. Own a emergency radio such as the NOAA emergency radio.

Know how to prepare your home:

When preparing your home, you need to gain knowledge of the 5-5-5 plan which means you can evacuate your home in 5 seconds, 5 minutes, or 5 hours based on the threat. Just as you prepare your home to remain in the home you must always consider having to leave or bugging out. What you prepare to have in your home is very much dependent upon you and what you need to survive. Just a few basics would be:

- Switch off the utilities in your home (gas, electric, water) if instructed to do so. Remember, you may not be home when the order is directed. Prepare your plan to allow others to follow it.

- Close storm shutters

- Board up windows

- Secure objects in the yard or bring them indoors

- Unplug applianece

What if you have to leave your home?

What if a state governor gives an emergency evacuation declaration, will you be capable of leaving? What is your plan? These are the times when you must have an emergency family communication plan. Do you know the evacuation policies for your area? Do you know at least three safe areas to evacuate your family? Do you have a list of your emergency phone numbers? Consider establishing a cache of supplies away from your home in the event you have to leave quickly with nothing. Do you keep a Get Home Bag or Ready Bag available by your front door or in your vehicle? Do you run disaster drills?