You read our post on storing three days of food and water. You checked out our readers’ suggestions. You then stocked up on non-perishable food and delicious, bleach-infused water. Well done; you’re on your way to being what Civil Defence and Statistics New Zealand call “basically prepared” for a disaster.
But you can’t complete the puzzle with only two thirds of the puzzle. The All Blacks, for example, need their water and halftime oranges for energy – but without a game plan they would resemble, well, the All Blacks under John Mitchell.
No, you and your housemates need to work together. As a team.
To ensure your team is adequately prepared, you need a comprehensive emergency plan. To this end, we would recommend two resources.
The back of your Yellow Pages has plenty of tips and reminders on what should be done before disaster strikes. Read this before disaster strikes. Some of the advice is common sense: going to higher ground in response to a tsumani warning is of course the sensible thing to do. Some people, however, need a serious dose of reminding (warning: link contains suicidal nudists.)
The second resource is more important still. Whereas helping people be prepared is something we do when not taking gorgeous real estate photos, Get Thru is a government-run initiative that exists solely to equip people for the big one.
On their site you will find a very important and comprehensive document entitled ‘Household Emergency Plan’. Please open it and print it off. You’re now going to go through it and, in conjunction with everyone living under your roof – be they family or flatmates – fill out every relevant box, including:
– Names and number of those in your household (heck everyone has a cell phone these days)
– A meeting point if you’re not all at home or can’t reach each other (because cell phones are hopeless when the network’s overloaded)
– Details of friends and neighbours who can help you, or may need help themselves
– Who’s in charge of picking kids up from school, maintaining the emergency kit etc
– Important numbers (water supplier, council emergency line, insurance company and more)
And on the back, there’s a big list of stuff you need, much of which we have covered in our last two posts.
Does it sound dull and like hard work? Yeah, perhaps. But think about this: most mistakes tend to be made when under immense pressure. A disaster that endangers you and your loved ones is such a time. If you’re unprepared, and have no idea what to do, the odds of making a critical error become that much bigger.
Here’s another way of looking at it. Businesses write plans to ensure they survive and grow. Sports teams make game plans to help them win. In each case, formulating and following through on these helps them gel as a team and achieve their goals. Why wouldn’t you, Mr or Ms Householder, want the same for your team?
Having a great product/star player/essential supplies is important, but it’s ultimately useless if you’re operating without any direction.
A plan has to cover all sorts of contingencies. What if you’re not at home when things go pear-shaped? What if someone in your household has a disability? If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who ya gonna call?
Our advice is to sit everyone down and nut it out together. Delegate areas of responsibility so it’s not all left to one person. Be sure everyone knows what to do – this, if it were me, would involve having everyone fill out a copy of the Plan. It’s all well and good to photocopy it, but people often remember things better by writing them down. At the minimum ensure everyone has a copy, and they know what they have to do.
And of course, explain carefully to young ones and other vulnerable members of the household what is going on, what they will need to do, and most of all not to panic.
Just 29 percent of New Zealanders have an emergency plan filled out. Do this, and get three days supply of food and water, and you qualify in the eyes of Statistics New Zealand as “basically prepared” – a category only one in five Kiwis currently sit in.
If we can point a few people in the right direction, and get those numbers higher, then mission accomplished.
What do you think – have we covered all the basics? Is there anything important we’ve forgotten about? Let us know below or over on Facebook!