Book Preface: The 7 Steps to Emergency Preparedness for Families
This practical guide provides an all-hazards approach to help you prepare for any type of disaster. It consolidates research, experience, and practice into one comprehensive and straightforward plan to give you the tools you need to prepare for emergencies. Although the idea of getting yourself prepared for any emergency may seem daunting at first, the process is actually quite simple—and I’m here to escort you through that process step by step.
Why is this so important? The fact is, in this day and age, emergency preparedness is no longer just an option, it’s a necessity. We must be prepared to overcome the challenges created by climate change and extreme weather events. Disasters are increasing in frequency and magnitude, with significant short- and long-term consequences for our health, our society, our economy, and the environment. On every continent, we have seen an array of increasingly frequent disasters, such as wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, heat waves, drought, flooding, disease outbreaks, and rising sea levels. An emergency can even be as simple as the power grid going down for a few days due to a storm and you needing some candles—or food and water!
In an emergency, essential services such as gas stations, roads, pharmacies, telephone and electricity service, water supplies, and grocery and hardware stores may be unavailable for days, or even weeks. While some events are relatively minor, others can be complex, with concurrent disasters creating catastrophic damage and social disruption. Disasters like this not only affect our infrastructure but can also increase poverty, and lead to food insecurity and homelessness—the list of potential consequences is staggering. The loss of lives and livelihoods due to disasters across the world is devastating and sobering, and it would be unwise to entertain the notion that it won’t happen to us, or that if it does, it won’t be so bad. Our safety and well-being are not things that can be left to chance.
Disasters have become an important part of our reality, but we are not entirely at the mercy of their effects. We can prepare for disasters, and the fruits of such planning and efforts can pay off exponentially. And there is more good news—as I’ll demonstrate in this book, this preparation is not complicated. With the step-by-step instructions in this book, getting prepared for emergencies is simple and manageable, and can include the whole family!
Effective preparedness decreases the negative impacts of disasters on our families and livelihoods, protecting our children today and giving them tools to manage the potential disasters they may experience in their lifetimes. The environment and climate have undergone tremendous changes in the last fifty years. We can only imagine what the next fifty years might look like. Only we can determine the legacy we leave our future generations—a legacy of preparedness, self-sufficiency, resilience, and survival.
We cannot leave a better legacy than a family that is prepared for its future.
Throughout my career in disaster management and public health, I’ve witnessed the many effects of disasters, and it has become clear to me that we are universally ill-prepared for disasters. This lack of preparation impacts our ability to manage and provide for our needs and the needs of those for whom we are responsible. With just a little effort, much can be done to help ensure the safety and livelihood of those we love. The majority of the actions necessary to ensure this safety are simple. However, practical and reliable tools to motivate and help us prepare have been limited, which has led me to develop this book.
Together, we can build a culture of preparedness and self-sufficiency.
The first step in reaching preparedness and self-sufficiency is to adjust our mindset and know that the process of preparation is doable—anyone can do it. Following my 7 Steps, you can make preparedness part of your routine and simultaneously teach your children these essential skills. This guide makes the process easy by providing one plan that helps you prepare for all types of hazards. You won’t have to flip through thirty websites and fifty brochures to determine what you need for every type of disaster or extreme weather. It is all here, made simple with easy-to-follow checklists.
The information in this book combines the latest research, science-based evidence, and practical lessons learned from past disasters, as well as my thirty-plus years of experience in disaster management, public health, and survival techniques. I’ve done the work and the research, and I’ve brought it all together so that you have everything you need in one resource to get prepared. Once you have completed the 7 Steps, you’ll be ready for any disaster!
Step 1: Safeguard Important Documents
Step 2: Create a Communication and Reunion Plan
Step 3: Create a Shelter and Evacuation Plan
Step 4: Assemble Emergency Supplies
Step 5: Prepare the House
Step 6: Respond to a Disaster
Step 7: Return Home Safely
The book is laid out in several parts. In Part I: Get Ready, I outline the first five steps of the preparation process. Each step gives key information at the beginning of the chapter, followed by additional material for interested readers. In Part II: Respond, I show you how best to respond should a disaster strike. Part III: Return Home explores what happens once the disaster has passed. Finally, an Additional Information section acquaints you with the disaster management process, describes common hazards, and provides advice on everything from practicing proper sanitation to disinfecting water, accommodating special needs, and choosing insurance.
As you develop your emergency plan and go through the 7 Steps, make it fun and informative. Include your children, nieces or nephews, or grandchildren in the process; this could be the most important lesson you teach them. Engage them! Discuss the plan with your family and practice it so that everyone is aware of and comfortable with their role. Encourage or challenge your neighbors, relatives, friends, and co-workers to join you in your efforts. Most of all, luxuriate in the confidence and peace of mind that comes with being prepared!
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.