In light of the recent snow-related events, several things were made clear. First, as bad as we often joke about Atlanta traffic, it could be much worse. Second, it only takes a little to create a catastrophe. We often forget about the human element in stressful events. Sure, only two inches of snow fell last week. But that, combined with the entire metro area taking to the roads all at once, creates problems no one foresaw.
I covered a story a few years ago about disaster preparedness. A group of people hosted a conference on ways to stay safe in case of emergency. Sure, there were those who were arming themselves – figuratively and literally – against politicians taking their rights, but for most people, they wanted to know more basic skills. What food do you need? How much water? Where are the best places to find shelter?
If this past week taught us anything, it’s to be prepared. Whether you are stuck in your car for five, 10 or more hours, out of fuel in a bitterly cold environment or stuck at home without food (as I was), you need a plan.
I’m sure all those people who ended up walking miles home through the snow at night wished they had kept a thick coat or boots in their trunk, or an extra supply of gas. Those stuck at home with the local supermarkets closed wished they had stored up some extra food. Thankfully, I haven’t heard of anyone losing electricity or water; otherwise those add whole new problems to deal with.
There are plenty of bogus and otherwise laughable shows and websites out there of people preparing for nuclear winter, or zombie hordes, but what we should not laugh about is the very-real and all-too-likely emergencies that may face us any season. Be it hurricanes, flooding, loss of power or snow (even in the Deep South), an emergency is just that; no one expects it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare.
The Red Cross suggests these basic items as a minimum to be prepared for an emergency.
Water – one gallon per person, per day (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
Food – non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA weather radio, if possible)
First aid kit
Medications (seven-day supply) and medical items
Sanitation and personal hygiene items
Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
Cellphone with chargers
Family and emergency contact information
Maps of the area