This is part of a series from the health coaches at Cambia’s Lifelong Well-being team who share how to move beyond wellness to well-being. It starts with empowering people toward life balance—focusing on health status and risk factors, personal circumstances in life and career, and their unique needs—through the lens of the following pillars: optimal health, resilience, physical wellness and emotional health.
Previously taken for granted, the fragility of many institutions within society have become obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s the overwhelming of health care systems, shortages of food and supplies at grocery stores or not having ready access to other resources, the pinch of the “new normal” has been felt. The silver lining to this situation is the reminder that there are plenty of steps to prepare for emergencies in the future. Whether it takes the form of a natural disaster or a future tightening of shelter-in-place orders, now is a perfect time to revisit emergency preparedness.
1. Build an Emergency Kit
Most experts agree that everyone should have food, water and supplies to last for a MINIMUM of three days in the case of an emergency, while encouraging people to build a more robust kit that can last up to 1-2 weeks for extra caution. In addition to having the recommended emergency kit supplies, consider including personal items like prescription drugs, pet food, extra contact lenses or baby supplies. While the possibility of major disasters like an earthquake are relatively low, consider what you might need in case you become quarantined in your home for two weeks due to a COVID-19 spike or resurgence in your area.
2. Make a Plan
This is often the overlooked step of emergency prep, and one that can make a major difference in the health and safety of yourself and others. Emergency plans consist of everything from escape routes from your home, rendezvous points after a disaster, a communication plan for friends or family, or where to go if you need to evacuate. Discuss plans with your family and close relatives to keep everyone on the same page. Keep in mind that electricity and internet services may be disrupted after a disaster, and emergency response times may also be delayed. For more information on creating an emergency plan, click here for information from the Red Cross.
- Pro Tip: Create hard copies of your disaster plans and store them at home, in your car, at work and with relatives. This plan will outline the step-by-step instructions for different kinds of emergencies (fire, earthquake, etc.) Oftentimes we are in shock and not thinking clearly during and immediately after an emergency, so having a written copy of your plan will help to ensure your safety
3. Build Your Kit and Plans Over Time
Putting together emergency kits and plans can seem overwhelming, so try breaking it into weekly steps. Once you have compiled your list of supplies, start by picking up a few extra food items each week during your normal grocery shopping. Work slowly to build up your stock of food and other supplies, so after a month or two you should have everything you need. Additionally, schedule 15-30 minutes a week to create disaster plans as well. By building your emergency kit and plans slowly over time, you will reduce the strain on your budget, avoid hoarding and give yourself the opportunity to create the best plans possible.
4. Don’t Hoard
At the outset of the pandemic toilet paper, hand sanitizer, masks and other disinfectants disappeared overnight as panicked buyers stockpiled excessive numbers of products leaving others without these needed resources. As you begin to shop for your emergency kit, be realistic about the amount of supplies you’ll need for a period of a few weeks. Be mindful of the needs of other members of your community. If you will need large quantities of a single item, consider buying them in installments over a period of a few weeks.
5. Emergency Management and Education
Creating an emergency kit and plan is an ongoing habit of vigilance and growth. In addition to periodically needing to cycle through then restock perishable items in your kit, you also need to continue to modify your emergency plans (as your circumstances change) and keep contact information and other important notes up to date. Additionally you can work to better prepare for an emergency by taking a First Aid or CPR class, educating yourself on the most common emergencies in your area, and working with neighbors to create a community response plan.
Emergencies and natural disasters can strike at any time. By spending a little time and energy planning now, you can help to mitigate the toll these events may take on yourself and your loved ones.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” -Benjamin Franklin