Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us

by Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson

Make A Plan
Originally published March 20, 2012

The theme for disaster preparedness nationwide is, “Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed.” We have discussed the “Get A Kit” part, now lets “Make A Plan”. We all remember fire drills from our school days. Everybody knew exactly where to go and how to get there. There was no standing around discussing what to do. We didn’t vote on our options nor did we argue, we had been trained and if there ever had been a fire, we had a plan. For that reason deaths from school structure fires are extremely rare in the U.S. Likewise we should plan for our personal emergencies as well.

When planning what to do in the event of a disaster, we need to identify the types of hazards we may face in our region. Here on the Oregon coast, it is unlikely (although not entirely out of the question) that we will be hit by a tornado. Likewise hurricanes and winter blizzards are for the folks in other parts of the country. We could have severe winter wind and rain storms, some flooding, or the big concern, earthquake followed by a tsunami. While it is impossible to plan for every contingency, it is possible to make general plans.

The military knows that when the shooting starts, soldiers don’t necessarily panic, but they don’t think as clearly as usual. When the pressure is on, soldiers rely on their training. Same thing happens with the rest of us in an emergency. If we have a plan we can move decisively and save precious seconds, possibly saving lives.

Discuss with your family what to do if the house is on fire. What steps would you take to re-unite your family if you are shopping in another city while the kids are at school and a disaster happens. If it is impossible to get back home do the kids know what to do? Is there a friend who can step up and take care of your little ones until you can get home?

How about if the roads are flooded unexpectedly and the buses can’t get your students home? Do you know the School District’s policy regarding natural disasters? If not, take a look at your child’s student handbook and familiarize yourself with the policy.

Not only do you need to plan for various contingencies, but plan for various locations. You will plan differently for your workplace than if you’re at home. When the twin towers were hit on 9/11 many stood around discussing what to do. Consequently lives were lost because of wasted time. Have a plan and if you need to use it, act quickly, as in RIGHT NOW!

While we’re planning, don’t forget to plan for your pets. One of the lessons learned in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was that pets are often neglected in the chaos of a disaster. It doesn’t hurt to have some extra dog food on hand. Extra meds if needed.

So do some “what if” thinking about various scenarios and see what you come up with. Remember a failure to plan is a plan to fail. As always you may contact me with questions or comments at disasterprep.dave@gmail.com

Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives.

additional columns by Dave Robinson