From a pandemic to natural disasters, now more than ever we need to be ready for whatever tomorrow brings. While the idea of emergency preparedness seems daunting, it really can be made easy. The first thing you need to do is make sure you are rested.
“Step one is not something an emergency manager would usually be talking about, but the first step is really making sure that you’re doing what you need to rest, recover, and refill your energy storage to prepare for the next emergency. The next emergency isn’t going to be another pandemic. That’s never the way it is. We need to be able to restore whatever we have already drained from ourselves and get to a place where we can prepare for the next thing,” says Katie Belfi, founder of Belfi Consulting.
Belfi knows emergency management firsthand. Before consulting, Belfi was an attorney for FEMA during Sandy and worked as an emergency manager. Through her career, she has seen how a lack of preparation leads to even more problems during a disaster.
“I would say the biggest mistake I see people making in preparing is not preparing enough because they get overwhelmed by the idea that prepare means something enormous. Really what it comes down to is tiny steps that we take today that can make a huge difference for tomorrow.”
She has an acronym to help you plan right now, and it’s quite SIMPLE.
S stands for safety and shelter. Know where you are going to go and how you will get there.
I is for information. Belfi says to know what documents you need and have a way to get information (besides your phone).
M is for medical. Make sure you have all the necessary medications for you and your loved ones, as well as a basic first aid kit.
P stands for provisions. Have enough food and water for all in the house (including pets) for at least 48 to 72 hours. That means a gallon of water per person for day. Belfi also says to remember to have food that stores easy and doesn’t need to be cooked or in the fridge.
L is for loved ones. Who are you taking care of and who would you need to talk with in case of an emergency?
E is energy. That includes flashlights, batteries, generator, etc. Anything you would need to get the energy restored and life back to normal.
You do not have to make a separate kit for each potential disaster. Belfi says agility equals ability. A versatile kit means you will be ready for whatever the world throws your way.
Preparedness is not just a benefit to your own household; you are directly helping those around you.
“When one individual, one family starts to work on their readiness and resilience, that frees up resources for another family that might not be able to do the same thing.”
Belfi stresses that FEMA is an amazing resource, but it should not be the first option for your family after disaster strikes.
“The fact of the matter is, with the unprecedented number and severity of the natural disasters that we’re seeing, those resources are being strapped in a way that we’ve never seen them strained before. And so, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’re waiting for and depending on a resource that you know is being strained and diminished by the day.”
Just like a ripple in the water, our individual preparations can ripple into a wave of resilience.
“And this is what I like to think about with the ripple effect of resilience. What you do for yourself and your family extends well beyond the walls of your home, outside the bounds of your community, and actually ripples out to affect the entire country if you really zoom out and look at how those resources are shared.”
Another important task is becoming familiar with your risk and understanding the main threats that could impact your neighborhood. By taking these small steps today, you will be ready for tomorrow.
To learn more about being ready and resilient, head to Belfi’s website, www.katiebelfi.com.