When writing for this blog, it helps me to do a little editorial planning ahead of time and way back in November I had planned this week to write about emergencies. You see, despite having lived in QLD for over four years and despite having been evacuated because of bush fires down south, we are still not prepared at all for emergencies. Writing helps me research, learn and act. If you had asked me a month ago how to prepare for a cyclone or a flood, I would have given you a blank stare.
Since then, the country has seen weather that makes this topic all the more relevant. There has been flooding all the way down the east coast, bush fires over in WA and three cyclones have already hit the coast this summer. Cyclone Yasi will probably have hit northern QLD by the time you read this. With constant warnings in our local paper that my neck of the woods has a high chance of experiencing a cyclone this season, emergency preparation isn’t just something we should do ‘sometime’, it is something we need to do now.
Even if you don’t live in a high risk area, it is good to be prepared for emergencies. There is always the threat of bush fires. Or severe storms. Or widespread blackouts. What will you do if an emergency strikes? Will you be prepared?
Of course, we can’t be prepared for everything. We’ve seen some devastating flash flooding with little or no warning and where all the preparation in the world wouldn’t have helped. But for the most part, it pays to be prepared.
12 things that you can do today to be more prepared
- Collect some recycled water or soft drink bottles and clean well. Store these somewhere safe so that you can fill them with water if necessary. Keep at least one with water in it.
- Put together in a safe an accessible spot (with your emergency kit) important documents, memorabilia and some emergency cash. Store these in a plastic bag.
- Make regular back-ups of photos and important documents on your hard drive and store your back up with your other important documents.
- Prepare an emergency evacuation plan with your family. Write down out of town emergency contact numbers, evacuation meeting points and other important information like medication doses and emergencies. Keep this information with your emergency evacuation kit. For more information see resources below.
- Put together an emergency evacuation kit with clean clothing, bedding, food, first aide supplies, your important documents. Del, a F&T reader, emailed me with some great ideas for emergency kits. She suggests having a backpack with emergency supplies for every person in the house and to include non-perishable food like muesli bars and activities for kids to do if you’re in an evacuation situation. The idea is that each person can grab their kit quickly under emergency evacuation circumstances. For more information see resources below.
- For you kit, buy a small battery powered radio, a torch, spare batteries, duct tape, a utility knife, plastic garbage bags and any other things you might need that are specific to your circumstances. If you don’t want to pack everything now, keep a list and write down where you can find each item when you’re in a hurry.
- Check your home and contents insurance policies are up-to-date and that you are adequately insured.
- Clear gutters and yards of unnecessary clutter and debris.
- Ensure that you keep plenty of fuel in your car.
- Stockpile a variety of foods. Even though we weren’t affected by the floods directly, we were still cut off and supermarkets had difficulty restocking shelves. A UK report found that most of us are just nine meals from anarchy. How long could you survive, if you had to, without shopping for food?
- Enrol in a first aid course.
- Check in with local news every so often to stay on top of local events.
There are many emergency preparation resources on the internet that are much more detailed and comprehensive than what I could write, so rather than reinvent the wheel, I encourage you to check them out for yourself. There are resources specific for cyclones, but many of the steps are relevant for preparing for other emergencies also.
- The SES get ready guide
- Emergency Management QLD (this is a very comprehensive guide for storms, cyclones and flooding with links to other emergency guides such as a comprehensive guide to preparing for bush fires.)
- QLD Government Preparing for Cyclones doc
- Cleaning up after a flood (Red Cross)
- Coping with personal crises (red cross)
- The Greening of Gavin also has a Be Prepared Challenge with steps on stocking food.