Testing Your Emergency Plan

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An emergency plan is an integral component of your overall urban survival skills. Yes, it’s great if you keep a first aid kit, MRE and water on-hand, but unless you’ve mapped out how you plan to use your supplies, you’ll be a lot less effective in helping yourself, your family or your neighbors to get through a natural disaster or civil emergency. An emergency plan is vital, and testing that plan is equally critical.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast last week, we were within the projected path, giving us a chance to really test our emergency plan. We went through all the details that I’ve mentioned to you in previous blogs, and guess what? We found holes in our own emergency plan! Thankfully, we didn’t get hit by the storm directly, and this valuable experience has helped us identify the changes that needed to be made.

How concerned should you be about an emergency plan run-through? I’ll give you some examples of situations that people have found themselves in, and let you be the judge:

  • During a power outage, the homeowner retrieves a flashlights, only to discover that the batteries, which were stored inside the flashlight, have gone dead. (Tip: To keep batteries from discharging, don’t insert them into your flashlight until you need them.)
  • Emergency supplies were stored in different areas of the house, making it difficult to find them during a power outage, slowing evacuation.
  • The backup generator has been stored for years without being used, causing the fuel inside to spoil and making it impossible to start.
  • Critical emergency supplies were storied in the basement and were flooded before they could be used.

Testing your emergency plan doesn’t require you to wait for a massive storm. Simply set up scenarios that you could likely face in a real emergency. I’ll give you three possible drills you could test against your emergency plan, and think about others that match situations you could

  • High winds snap a tree branches, plunging your town into darkness. You need to be able to find your generator in the dark, get it started and run the appropriate extension cords to critical appliances.
  • A tanker truck crashes on a nearby road, emitting a toxic cloud. You need to have your go-bag (including food water, spare clothes, insurance papers, ID, prescriptions and any other items) and your family in the car within five minutes, ready to evacuate.
  • You’re alerted to a surprise snowstorm while at work. You need to plan out an effective route home, both by your normal route and by a secondary route in case the roads are clogged. You also need to contact all family members, arrange transportation home, and ensure that there’s enough food in the house to endure multiple days stuck inside.

If you have kids, you certainly don’t want to scare them with doomsday scenarios, but teaching them age-appropriate preparedness skills will make them better equipped to face the realities of life. Many stories have been told of children who saved the family from harm by knowing what to do in an emergency. And instilling your family members with the idea that you’re all a responsible for each others well being is never a bad thing.

This post was written by Tom Sciacca with http://www.campingsurvival.com/.  More of his articles can be found at http://campingsurvivalblog.com/category/toms-blogs/

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4 thoughts on “Testing Your Emergency Plan

  1. Well it happened, it really happened; we got hit by “Sandy” head on.

    We’re normally not phased by the Weathermen, they go into a frenzy for every storm good or bad. But my gut told me this wasn’t going to be one that would just pass us by, this was going to some damage.I went over my bug out bags, charged everything up in my house, got out my local maps and went over for the 100th time my household stock. I got all of the cars gassed up and parked in the driveway the day before the storm. I secured the stuff outside. I already had a house full of food and my emergency supplies so I was feeling OK.

    My Husband is in health care so he got mandated for THREE DAYS. Now I was alone with the baby, the dog and the parents who think nothing ever is going to happen. But I have my gear so I’m still OK. Well the hurricane hit, the house held up, the flood waters didn’t reach my house but we lost all power and heat. We couldn’t put on the generator till the storm was over so on went the lanterns and portable heaters.
    The next day we went to inspect the damage. Our trees were down, neighbors cars were moved, houses were flooded (some blown off their foundations) and a few boats from the marina made their way up to our main road. We picked up the friends who had to evacuate to the shelter, donated supplies, went home, got the gas grill going BBQ’ed what was in the fridge and freezer and started to feed ourselves and the neighbors. It wasn’t until then that people were starting to report the horrendous damage done to their homes, the loss of lives, the stores, the gas stations etc.
    We only went 5 days without power, I had two friends and their families (and dogs) who lost everything stay with us till they could get to alternate housing. Then on top of the Sandy we got hit with a Nor’Easter , no Federal help for the ppl with damage and a “gas shortage”.
    I went through a lot of what I had; I see what needs to be updated and what needs to be replaced. I’m shocked at the amount of ppl who didn’t even have powdered milk or batteries in their house for ONE day let alone a week. Things are getting back to normal here but this was some wake up call for the totally unprepared.

    • Hey Staten Island Strong, That is quite the remarkable story you shared. Glad you did ok through the storm and subsequent Nor’Easter. This illustrates those who were prepared did a lot better than those who did not. You not only protected your family who were also able to help out others. This is really preparedness in action. I only hope more people get prepared as well. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. I would add this:
    Perpetual and long runtime lighting:
    65 hour run time flashlight. I turn it in to a 360 hour flashlight. It’s easy:
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-Flashlight-Mod-Increases-Run-Time-36X/?allstep
    Or go DYI micro solar
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Uses-For-Dead-Car-Batteries-And-Sealed-Lead-Acid-B/?allstep
    Emergency Led Lighting Made Ridiculously Simple:
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Emergency-Led-Lighting-Made-Ridiculously-Simple/?allstep
    No batteries & no shaking or cranking:
    http://www.instructables.com/id/400-Farad-Super-Capacitor-Flashlight-Build-This-/?allstep

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