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Why Plan?

This article was written and submitted to us by David Hooper from Vancouver, BC.

David says: "I am a Canadian Civil Servant, with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, in the British Columbia Region. Part of my job responsibilities involve Emergency Preparedness for First Nations Communities".

Why Plan to Have an Emergency?

If you knew that it would rain today, and that you would have to walk a block or two in the rain, would you bring an umbrella or overshoes? If you knew that it would be very cold outside, would you dress accordingly before going out? Of course you would. In every one of the above situations you would be prepared.

Have you made a will, and is it current? Have you given any thought to your own funeral? For most of us, we haven't. Is it because we just don't want to think of that? There is a 100% chance that sooner or later we will all need a will. But these things are not nice to think about, so we put them off. Even the one thing that is a complete certainty is not planned for. No wonder so many of us don't have a family (or personal) emergency survival plan. Emergencies are also not nice to think about. Who wants to think about all the things that could go wrong?

Your lawyer, stockbroker, banker, and everyone else seems to be on your case to get your will updated. They want you to make sure your medical insurance is paid up, and a whole host of other things done, just in case. Your mother used to say, "make sure you always wear clean underwear because you never know..."

So, lets fool 'em all. Lets plan to survive.

Honest, it's not bad luck to think about an emergency before it happens. Planning what to do in case of emergency does not mean that one will happen. The title of this T.O.W. was chosen with that in mind. However, you have to have an emergency in mind to make you plan for it. There will probably be one anyway, so plan ahead.

What will you need?

First question: What are the basics of life? Water, food, shelter, warmth, etc.

Second question: What are some of the things that could happen to deprive you of one or more or these necessities? To answer that, observe your geographical location. In Idaho, hurricanes are not a huge menace. And earthquakes don't often hit Saskatchewan. But if you are in Florida, and you don't plan for a hurricane, you are ignoring significant odds. And as for earthquakes in California, well... (How current did you say that will was?)

Hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, severe winter storms (prolonged blizzards), tornadoes, tsunamis, extended severe heat waves, floods, landslides and avalanches, volcanic eruptions, forest fires (or wildfires), a factory fire involving dangerous substances, a wreck involving a chemical or toxic material spill on a nearby roadway (or railway or seaport) are distinct possibilities for many of you. (This list is nowhere near exhaustive.) How about an "ordinary" house fire? Depending on where you live, you are likely at risk from several of these hazards.

So why aren't you planning?

Failing to plan is planning to fail.
But then you already knew that. (After all, you're reading this!)

  • What will you do when (not if) an emergency occurs?
  • Have you planned for your survival, and your family's survival?
    • Have you practiced the plan?
    • Does your plan cover the contingencies?
  • Does your plan cover emergencies that occur when you are away from home as well as when you are at home?
    • Does it cover all the basics?
    • Are the supplies you need on hand?
      • Are they fresh enough?
      • Are there kits in your car, your spouse's car, your kids' car(s).
      • Do they know how to use them?
  • What shelter provisions have you made?
Silly Question: Do you have any money?

If all the power blacked out, and phone/communications lines went down, Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) and credit card machines would be kaput. Yet you will need some money to acquire something you may have overlooked in your planning. Here's the dilemma: If you keep a large stash of cash around, you're just looking to get robbed. So what're ya gonna do?

In Summary

The solutions to potential problems arising from disaster are complex and particular to your situation. No single web page can provide the answers. You should integrate many sources of information into your planning. Contact your local emergency office for pointers on what to plan for.

If you live in the United States, contact your state government or FEMA. Try their website for info on emergency planning and their FEMA home study courses. (I just wish the home study courses were available outside the U.S.!) Here in B.C. (Canada), the Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) has a new website with good stuff including Emergency Prep checklists. The Emergency Preparedness Canada people are also a good source of information.

No matter where you live, there is a local office of one emergency agency or another who can help. Believe me, they would rather spend time helping you fully prepare than be faced with having to look after you after a catastrophe.

Do something. Get started, now! Today, not tomorrow or next week, but now! It really isn't all that unpleasant to think about. Just think of it as a game. Beat the odds. (See the article on Murphy's Law.)

Now, about that will.....

-- Dave Hooper

Need some supplies to ensure your plan's success? Check out the rest of's web site.

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