On this day 16 years ago, you likely remember exactly where you were when a new magnitude of terrorism, and significant loss of life and property caused absolute chaos in the USA. Myself and another AllConnected engineer were at an all night network upgrade at a client in Los Angeles, grabbing a donut in the breakroom at around 5am PST when we saw the first of many videos and images of the destruction in Manhattan.
During the second week of National Preparedness Month, each of us are encouraged to Develop a Plan. Last week, the focus was on Week 1 of 4 – Knowing the Risks. Once we become aware of risks, we can start to develop plans to mitigate those risks. Since 9.11, we became aware of serious risks and many plans were developed. Today, we don’t have an airline, large vessel, shipping port, critical infrastructure or large public venue that doesn’t staff an increase in personnel, mandate security screening, and include significant preventative measures to mitigate the risk of violence or terrorism.
Does Your Family Have a Plan?
If you’ve been to an airport the past few years, you’ve heard the announcement ‘if you see any unattended bags, please notify airport personnel
immediately’. We are called on to be part of the solution. It is true that much is going on within your local Police Department, Fire Department,
Water District, Utility companies, Corporate Businesses, Hospitals, Schools, and other organizations to take active measures to plan for Disasters. But it’s clear that in the event of a significant attack or disaster, no agency can protect us from the risk of natural or cyber disasters 100%.
Earlier this year, my oldest son and I completed an 7 week CERT (Community Emergency Response Training) class with the City of Simi Valley. I had heard many times that if we want to ensure our families are prepared for the Big One, we’d better be able to survive on our own for at least 3 days, if not a week. Why? We learned how First responders must prioritize their efforts. Hospitals, Schools, and Critical Infrastructure must come first. To the extent possible, we need to be self sufficient for these first few days.
How to Start Your Plan:
There are awesome resources included in the links on this page for Ready.Gov, FEMA, and CERT can really help you plan for the unexpected. FEMA has designed a great resource at ready.gov. Among the planning resources:
- Wallet sized Emergency Communication Plan
- Plan for Kids and Parents
- Financial First Aid Kits
- Four important questions to discuss with your family
CERT is another great resource, and it helps you to think about how to be ready to take care of yourself and your family while First Responders are caring for the most immediate and urgent needs. It helps you to think about these types of questions:
- Do you have a gallon of water per day, per person for 3 days?
- Do you have a 3 day supply of nonperishable food for each person in your family?
- Is your first aid kit complete, and is one in your home and each car?
- What is your emergency communication plan if no phones work in the area?
- How do you turn the gas off to your house? Did you know that a good number of gas valves have actually rusted completely shut and can’t be shut off?
If you’re in the Oxnard area, check out the Disaster Preparedness event they are having on Saturday the 16th.
Planning Now Helps you to Help Others
So, if you haven’t made the time to put together a plan for your family, Week 2 of National Preparedness Month is a great time to do so. Oh, and another important tip that worked for me: if you’re married, definitely get your spouse involved. Once we started talking about how to care for our family, she became pretty eager to jump in and help pull together everything that we needed for our food and safety kits.
Neighborhoods appreciate the effort you make too. At our last block party, some of my neighbors asked me to share what I’d learned about planning from the recent CERT class I was engaged in. We brought a dolly out and shared what we have in our kits, and why. People asked a lot of questions and I feel it raised awareness on how our local neighborhood could be better prepared. So, if you’re making plans in your own home and family, share what you’re doing with others. Here are some of the questions that came up in our neighborhood:
- For those of us who have 2 story homes, How do your kids get out of the house in a 3am fire?
- How will you eat tomorrow if the stores are empty?
- What’s the level in your gas tank?
- How much unperfumed bleach is needed to sanitize a gallon of unsuitable drinking water? (8 drops)
If you haven’t thought through some of these scenarios, September is a great month start planning! Here’s a link to a simple family plan to get you started.