When a natural disaster strikes, the effects are often devastating. The speed at which the disaster unfolds, together with the lack of warning, often means that many people are caught up in the dramatic events that follow.
The good news is that science and technology is advancing at a pace and while many natural disasters still cannot be accurately predicted a great deal in advance, we are getting far better at reading the warning signs. Our technology is at least giving people some chance to escape from the threat of flooding, tsunami, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes and many more natural disasters, before they occur.
However, as events such as the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake cruelly showed, often surviving a disaster is not simply enough. In both cases, the extraordinary loss of life during the disaster (put at over 300,000 for the 2004 Tsunami and over 100,000 for the 2010 earthquake) was often exacerbated in the aftermath as people died simply because they didn’t know how to cope or survive when disaster struck.
Compare this with the equally devastating 2011 Japanese Tsunami, which hit a vastly more populous region of the globe, but which saw considerably fewer deaths (under 16,000 confirmed deaths, though 2609 people remain officially missing) in comparison to the events in Haiti and the Indian Ocean.
While this considerably lower number can be partly attributed to Japan’s more stringent building codes, the fact that the Japanese people are well aware of the threat posed by earthquakes and Tsunami means that they are not just prepared to deal with an event as it unfolds, but also how to survive in the aftermath.
So in this article, we’ll examine some practical steps you can take to help you not only survive the immediate effects of a natural disaster, but how you can take three practical steps to help you recover in the critical phase afterwards when medical attention, clean water, food and other basic necessities may not be readily available.
Step 1: Realise and understand the dangers you face
While it is impossible to predict when a disaster may strike, it is relatively easy to understand the type of disaster that you are likely to face. If you live in an Alpine village at the foot of a valley, then you’ll know that you are more likely to be at risk of an avalanche.
By the same token, if you live in Tornado Alley in the United States, in areas of high seismic activity due to the meeting of tectonic plates, or on a volcanic hotspot such as Hawaii or Montserrat then you can easily identify what dangers you are likely to face.
Understanding this is the key first step to preparing correctly to survive a natural disaster. You need to understand what disaster it is likely you will face and then you need to expand on that knowledge by learning what to do in the event that disaster strikes.
The good news for you is that depending on where you live, many national governments and local authorities will have plenty of literature for you about surviving a natural disaster. You need to gather all this information together and thoroughly digest it before you take the next step.
Step 2: Formulate your disaster action plan
When you know the likely nature of the disaster you are likeliest to face you can then go about formulating a plan to ensure your immediate survival should disaster strike. So, for example, if you live in an area prone to sudden and dramatic flooding, you can locate the nearest piece of safe high ground and work out the fastest route to get there. If you live in an area prone to tornadoes you can think about installing a shelter, or at least finding out where the local safe storm shelters are.
For disasters that can allow you even just a few minutes warning, having a plan of action which all your family know and can follow will save precious seconds and can be the difference between surviving a disaster or not.
Step 3: Pack and maintain your disaster survival kit
In the event of a disaster striking, you are unlikely to have a huge amount of time to run about the home packing things you are going to need in the case of essential utilities and services or basic medical assistance being unavailable in the hours or days following a major disaster. In some disaster scenarios, you may be trapped in your home without food, water, electricity, gas or other items for many days. In others, you may be forced to evacuate your home and seek an alternative place to shelter until you can receive assistance.
In both cases a disaster survival kit is an essential piece of kit. Similar to what soldiers would carry, these essential kits can be put together relatively cheaply but the kit contained within can allow you to survive relatively comfortably for many days after a disaster. One important aspect of these kits is that they must be portable and that there should be one for each member of the family and that your family members should become familiar with using the items in the kit.
What is contained within these kits tends to vary depending on which disaster expert you wish to listen to but some basic items would include food items, bottled water, a compass, a torch (the new range of LED headlamps are ideal), spare batteries, fishing hooks and line, a sewing needle and thread, a first aid kit, a portable shelter, matches (or a similar source of flame) plus an axe or other form of sharp blade.
What is in a kit depends very much on the particular threat you face and each kit is easily adapted to meet the particular needs a survivor of a specific type of natural disaster. For example, if you are most at risk of avalanche, then you would need different items in your kit, than a person living in Japan near the cost preparing for an earthquake or tsunami.
For extra security, you can also invest in waterproof bags to keep your kits in to ensure, especially in the case of flooding or avalanche. These not only waterproof the bag and its contents, but can also be used as a flotation device too.
If you are more likely to face a scenario where a disaster cuts you and your home off from the outside world and all its services, then you’ll need to prepare slightly differently. A generator is always a wise investment and if you are likely to be cut off for a while, water is a commodity you need to save. Fill your bathtubs, sinks and as many other containers as possible with safe drinking water in the time before the disaster (if you have that option) and remember there are other sources of water in your home (such as in the hot water system or the toilet cistern, provided you do not place any cleaning products in the cistern).
By taking these three simple and relatively inexpensive steps, you can give you and your loved ones the best chance of surviving even the most horrific natural disasters. Yet that is not all you can do. There are of course plenty of other steps you can take to help you and your family survive in the face of a cataclysm and of course food is a vital component of that.
Fortunately, there is a book available which details the 37 food items which are not only vital to help you survive, but which can be particularly scarce when a crisis hits. “Sold Out After Crisis” will give you information on these vital food items, where you can get them, how you can store them and most importantly, how they can help you and your loved ones survive until help is forthcoming.
Click on this link to take you to this important and potentially life-saving ebook.