How Prepared Are You for an Emergency?

Emergencies happen when we least expect them. That’s why it’s called an emergency. My fellow East Coasters experienced this firsthand this past month after Hurricane Sandy hit our shores.  I know many of us would have done things differently, taken extra precautions. Recovery will be a long process, but the lessons on preparedness were learned immediately. So, are you ready for the next one, whatever it may be?

Ready.gov’s “Today Is the Day Before” public service announcement campaign urges America to make a plan to prepare for natural disasters. Many of them are unexpected, like San Francisco’s 1989 earthquake that killed 63 people. Watch their thought-provoking and action-inspiring video below:

Today’s show discusses how one can prepare for emergencies like these: Natural disasters, home fires, blackouts, medical emergencies, etc. As a physician, I can’t emphasize the importance of hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. As part of my training, I had to learn first aid and CPR, which I have since used many times at the hospital to save lives.

It’s easy for anyone of us to stick our head in the sand and ignore or downplay the worst. However, by doing this, you put yourself and your family at risk of severe injury or even death. Right before Hurricane Sandy, many people, including myself, downplayed the dangers of this superstorm. Despite warnings from public officials, many thought it would be just a rainstorm, especially since 2011’s Hurricane Irene wasn’t as dangerous. No one knew that it would turn out to be one of the worst storms the East Coast has seen in recorded history, killing at least 253 people and causing over $60 billion in damage.

A sample hurricane kit, which would include canned food, flashlights, batteries, a radio, and at least 1 gallon of water per person per day.

It’s much easier to prepare yourself than suffer the consequences. Here are some easy ways how:

  • Plan Ahead: Talk with your family about planning for a possible emergency. Your plan should include a communication plan, an emergency preparedness kit, and a few possible options for evacuating to a safer place. Let the resources available at ready.gov guide you.
  • Learn CPR and First Aid: You will never know when these lifesaving practices will come in handy. In a CPR class, you will also learn how to care for basic injuries, cuts, and burns. Register for a class in your area.
  • Keep important documents and records handy: These include your passport, birth certificate, social security cards, and a list of your medications. Keep them in waterproof bags, so they stay safe. You may also want to consider buying a fire-safe security chest to house your important documents and valuables. If a fire-safe box is too expensive, you can try the freezer, which can provide some protection against a fire.
  • Take our emergency preparedness quiz. It’s surprising what you can learn.
  • Learn about the warning signs of an aneurysm, a heart attack, and stroke, the best ways to prepare for them, and what to do.