Having the Disaster Conversation

| 7/23/2019 12:22:00 PM

Kyle FerlemannThe devastating wildfires of 2018 and 2019 got me thinking about the harsh realities of when Mother Nature shows her wrath. Most people understand that disasters can and will happen but either do not want to think about it or just don’t know how to plan for a disaster. It is a fact that people get caught in disasters. It is also true that simply relying on your wits during a disaster will not save you. Disaster planning is just that; planning. Being ready and able to act before the disaster happens is the key to successful survival and rapid recovery. Even a simple plan with a few resources can make the difference between knowing what to do and having options, or being trapped by circumstances with no time, no resources, and no choices. 

As an emergency response planner, I work with people and communities in building resiliency; resiliency being the ability to survive and quickly recover from natural or man-made disasters. If you are thinking about what you should do to prepare for a disaster here are a few things to consider.

The 20% plan is the 80% solution.


I have conducted hundreds of interviews with survivors of disasters and wars. Within these conversations a pattern emerged. Those who took the time to make simple plans and basic preparations had greater success in both surviving and recovering. Simple things like having an extra set of clothing and some food set back, knowing the location of important documents like vehicle registrations, house/land titles and some extra cash, and having had discussions with family members about where to meet if they can’t get home right away. The difference that a little thought and preparation made in the stories of these families was significant.

Almost universally, these plans had similar attributes. They were very simple, easy to understand and remember. Basics like what to take and where to go were decided well in advance of trouble arriving. The plans relied on few resources. Having large stockpiles was rarely the case, as resources consisted of useful tools they often carried with them or had stored nearby and readily accessible. Most importantly, plans were discussed within the family on a fairly regular basis (maybe a few times a year) and reinforced in a positive light.  

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