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Be Prepared — The Life You Save May Be Your Own

View of Hurricane Florence from Space Station — September 10, 2018

Over the last couple of days, writing has taken a back seat because Hurricane Florence is breathing fire out in the Atlantic and making a beeline for the North Carolina coast. While none of the forecasters can tell us whether the storm will make landfall at Charleston, South Carolina or Wilmington, North Carolina or Norfolk, Virginia, what all the prognosticators are saying is, “be prepared.” In the event of natural disasters, what does “Be Prepared” mean? It means you are prepared for any given situation that presents itself.

The Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared,” is apropos in all situations involving Mother Nature because of her unpredictability when it comes to her full quiver of natural disaster arrows. Whether you are in California facing earthquakes or wildfires or in Kansas facing tornadoes or along the Atlantic shore facing a hurricane, the biggest thing you must be ready to do is either evacuate or shelter-in-place depending upon the situation. Too many times, people wait until the last minute and then without a plan end up in what could be a catastrophic situation. So, what should you do?

Link to current image from National Hurricane Center

With earthquakes, tornadoes, and in some instances, wildfires, there are a few things you can do in advance because of how quickly those disasters present themselves. But, with hurricanes, you have time to prepare, and take that time to gather everything you might need to sustain you for five to seven days.

First, in the event of fires or hurricanes where evacuation may come at a moment’s notice, make sure you have a go-bag with all your essential medicines, important papers, a change of clothes, water, food, flashlight and other items that you require for daily life.

Second, make sure you have at least three routes out of your area and a set location to unite friends and loved ones because in the event of a disaster, having a spot to meet is critical to help first responders account for everyone from a given neighborhood, subdivision, or locale.

Third, and most important, make sure you and your family are safe once the disaster is upon you.

Your home and belongings can be replaced, but your life is the most important thing you have; if they order an evacuation, heed the warning and evacuate. Once an evacuation order is in place, first responders will assume after careful canvassing that no one is in the mandatory evacuation area; thus, not have to worry about rescues in that area. And, if you stay after such an order to show how macho you are and end up needing help; you may find that none is available. Again, prepare for the worst and hope for the best, but don’t gamble with your life.

So, for the next several days, while my friends and neighbors hold their collective breath waiting on Hurricane Florence to make landfall, I am going to be preparing for the worst. In preparation, contingency plans to work from home have been implemented with my workplace management, safe drinking water has been put in containers and frozen, food for a week has been purchased, and if necessary, preparations have been made to evacuate even though we are 225 miles inland from the expected landfall. Why is all this preparation essential?

It is essential because, in the event of a problem, lack of planning can be catastrophic to yourself and loved ones. As stated earlier, ‘things’ can be replaced, but ‘lives’ cannot. So, if you do your best to be prepared for anything Mother Nature can throw at you; when disaster hits, you will most likely handle it without any problem.

Emergency Evacuation Checklist — Courtesy of Kathryn Holt — Emergency Preparedness Specialist