Gaye Levy, Contributor
“Oh no! Now what? A calamity has just occurred in my area and what do I do? I know that I have prepared an emergency kit and can survive for a week or two but what do I do now? I am confused and can’t think. Help me!”
Although this is a fictional scenario, those might likely be the thoughts that run through your mind following an earthquake, a hurricane, a flood, a wildfire or other calamity. And while you may think that the likelihood of such a disaster landing on your doorstep is low, it could happen.
So what do you do? Today I would like to share some tips and possible solutions to the “Oh No – What Now?” dilemma.
Take Stock of the Situation
• Are you and your family safe? Can you keep yourselves warm, fed, and out of harm’s way? Remember, being prepared for a disaster is part of your basic responsibility. If you’ve been caught unprepared, this will be more of a challenge than if you’re able to be completely self-sufficient.
• If you are OK inside your home, determine what the conditions are outdoors. Is it safe to go outside or should you shelter in place?
• Do you have a way to let family and loved ones outside of your home know that you’re safe? What communication systems are functional (telephone, cell phone, texting, internet, shortwave radio)?
• Are you are facing a true emergency or do you need help immediately? If you are OK, place a sign in your window or on your door that say’s “OK”. If you need help, put up a sign that says “HELP” or “INJURED”.
Prepare Your Mindset
• Assume that you are going to be on your own for a while. Local public services will be overwhelmed and you should only look to them for help in true life or death emergencies. Don’t call 911 to ask for information, report power outages, or to pass on info that isn’t life or death in nature.
• Plan to subsist on your stored food and supplies. If the situation is dire, transportation systems and power will systems will be only marginally functional. The shelves of the stores – if the stores are open, that is – will be empty within hours.
• Disasters bring out the best and the worst in people. Be patient with those who don’t respond well, and work hard to ensure that your own response is positive and constructive.
• After a disaster, there’s a natural tendency to blame someone for the event. Remember, usually disasters are no one’s fault, and are an unavoidable part of simply living in our world. Focus on the things you can control such as helping your community heal, staying positive, and moving forward.
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• Roll with the punches and make the best of a bad situation. Stay secure in the knowledge that things can only get better.
Help Others in Your Community
• If you belong to a church or service organization, volunteer to help with any efforts they coordinate. Staying involved with like minded people will insure that your time and energy is put to the best use.
• There’s a lot of adrenaline flowing after a disaster. If you feel overwhelmed, do not be afraid to take a deep breath or two, and reassess the situation. Keep in mind that in the rush to help, well intentioned people in can end up causing more confusion than they intended.
• Respect others for their efforts and understand that it may take a while for a community to make use of all of the help offered. Don’t get frustrated if your assistance isn’t immediately accepted. And also do not get frustrated if other volunteers seem less skilled than you are.
The Final Word
The recent cluster of earthquakes in southern California has me a bit worried that the Pacific Northwest is next. Geologists say we are overdue – that is a fact. As prepared as I am, I still worry that in the panic of a crisis event, I will be impotent to act. The purpose of today’s article is as much for me as it is for you. It is a reminder that I need to have a level head so that I can act responsibly after a disaster.
Take stock, jump in to the mindset and help others. Those are words that will translate into action with the big one occurs.
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Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye Levy, the SurvivalWoman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable, self-reliant and stylish lifestyle through emergency preparation and disaster planning through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. SurvivalWoman speaks her mind and delivers her message with optimism and grace, regardless of mayhem swirling around us.