As our nation and our Caribbean neighbors recover from Superstorm and Hurricane Sandy, we’d like to reflect on a few lessons learned from this disaster. May we all not just discuss the storm’s aftermath, but take these lessons seriously enough to take action toward protecting our homes and our families against similar events in the future. While there’s nothing any of us can do to prevent things like earthquakes, hurricanes and superstorms, the following are a few of the things we should all be prepared to do in order to minimize the loss of property and lives in the future:
1 Expect the Unexpected
Sandy first presented as a hurricane, which is common for the Caribbean, but highly unusual for the eastern coast of America at this time of year. As they often do, many expected the hurricane to break up before it hit America’s mainland. While Sandy did downgrade from a hurricane to a storm, no one could be prepared for the surges that would follow. Despite early evacuations and pre-storm states of emergency being declared in some cities, a lot of people assumed that they’d get hard rain, perhaps even a little flooding, but that Sandy would be a lot more bark than bite. Even those who took warnings more seriously were caught off guard by the storm’s intensity and the damage that ensued. The lesson here is to expect (and prepare) for the worst…even when the worst seems highly unlikely. Which would you choose to be: over prepared or under prepared?
2 Protect Your Family
At all costs. This means, if you can afford extra supplies, security devices, environmental controls and anything else that will help protect your family or aid in your survival, don’t skimp. There are plenty of other areas where you can cut costs in order to save money, but survival and security shouldn’t one of them. Also, when asked to evacuate or prepare for a disaster in some other way, it is important to do so and not choose to take unnecessary chances that you may later regret. While leaving one’s home, even temporarily, can be a major inconvenience, it’s the kind of inconvenience that saves lives.
3 Protect Your Valuables
Right now, think about all of the valuable items in your home that you’d hate to lose in a disaster. Also, think about the precautions that you currently have in place in order to possibly protect these items. Do you have flood, temperature and freeze sensors? What about surge protectors or an uninterruptible power supply? While smart homeowners who heeded warnings about Sandy had several days in which to move furnishings and valuables to higher ground, not every environmental threat will offer that much preparation time. Even having a few hours warning, however, can help you either prevent a catastrophe or at least offer enough time for you to rescue as many of your valuables as possible. Environmental controls offer these kinds of alerts and should be installed in every home.
4 Be Self-Reliant
During a large-scale natural disaster, police, fire and other emergency workers have their hands full. As we witnessed during Sandy’s rampage, hospitals can also lose power and medical staff are often overwhelmed and cannot possibly attend to every single person needing help. It is, therefore, important for every member of your family to have a separate survival kit like the Guardian 1 Person Deluxe Hunter’s Survival Kit. Remember to also be prepared by doing things like keeping your gas tank full at all times (or as full as you can afford in this economic climate) and keeping a backup generator at home.
5 Can You Unplug?
We live in a digital age where not only are we reliant on electricity for our survival, but, increasingly, we have also come to rely on computers and smartphones for everyday things that we didn’t even have to think about a decade ago. For instance, while glued to my television set watching Sandy’s devastation, I heard stories about people needing medications, but not knowing the exact names of drugs that had previously been prescribed because the names were stored on a database that couldn’t be accessed without power. There were also people who found it difficult to access phone numbers and other data that was stored in mobile phones that weren’t charged, were lost or that didn’t have service. The lesson here is to plan for an emergency by unplugging for several hours at a time, assessing and devising ways of surviving without electricity, phone or Internet connections.
United We Stand
One giant lesson that we continue to learn in times of disaster, like Superstorm Sandy, is that we are at our best when we stand together. Stories abound of neighbors helping others and people pulling together to survive one of the worst storms in the nation’s history.
If you live in an area affected by Sandy, know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. If you are not in an area impacted by Sandy, we encourage you to contact the various agencies that are assisting with the cleanup and restoration efforts and consider making a donation or volunteering your time in order to help our fellow Americans inch closer to normalcy in their everyday lives again.
Where you directly impacted by Sandy? If you could turn back the hands of time, what, if anything, would you do differently to brace yourself for a storm of that magnitude? As always, we look forward to your comments below.