Watching Superstorm Sandy unleash her fury on the North East in the safety of our Jefferson County, Colo. home during a particularly warm October day. The comforts of electricity, adequate shelter, a fridge full of food, cell-phones and car with a tank full of gas made me feel a tinge of guilt and a lot of relief.
I had the ability to turn the television off and the images of the devastation Sandy left behind turned black. However, the reality is that the people affected by the storm can’t ignore it and can’t just turn it off; they’ve got to face it head on. According to the New York Daily News’ online live coverage of Sandy’s aftermath, as of Nov. 2, “More than 90 people have died…[and] More than 3.8 million homes are still without power…”
Phew, I thought, I’m so thankful Colorado is not by an ocean. And yet, as I lay in bed the night following the storm, it hit me like a…err…hurricane: We’re never that far from a natural disaster and the only thing to do is to be prepared. (Which, by the way, my family is not, thus the need for this article.)
The likelihood of Colorado being hit by a hurricane is slim to none, but we’ve seen our fair share of disaster this summer as many were forced from their homes by rampant wildfires, and there is this thing called “snow” that we haven’t seen much of lately that has potential to turn our state into a big white mess. Which got me thinking: Are we, as a state, really prepared for natural disasters? READY Colorado says, ‘No.’
In 2009, READY Colorado of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security interviewed Colorado residents of the North Central All Hazard Region (Boulder, Gilpin, Clear Creek, Broomfield, Denver, Adams, Jefferson, Douglas, Elbert and Arapahoe counties) “to determine the level of emergency preparedness of Coloradans at both the state and regional level…” The survey concluded that, “Much work needs to be done in order to increase the level of emergency preparedness among the population of the North Central Region and throughout Colorado.”
Here is a break down in the percentage of those interviewed that answered yes to the questions asked. While reading, answer the questions for you and your family:
- Does your local government have an emergency or disaster plan for your community: 44%
- Do you know how to find the emergency broadcasting channel on the radio: 40%
- In the past 30 days, have you seen or heard any messages that encourage people to take steps to be prepared for emergency situations in your community: 66%
- Have you actually prepared a disaster supply kit with emergency supplies like water, food and medicine that is kept in a designated place in your home: 39%
- Have you actually prepared a small kit with emergency supplies that you keep at home, in your car or where you work to take with you if you had to leave quickly: 42%
- Have you actually made a specific plan for how you and your family would communicate in an emergency situation if you were separated: 41%
- Have you actually established a specific meeting place to reunite in the event you and your family cannot return home or are evacuated: 22%
- Have you actually practiced or drilled on what to do in an emergency at home: 26%
- Have you actually volunteered to help prepare for or respond to a major emergency: 16%
- Have you actually taken first aid training such as CPR in the past 5 years: 44%
(Read the full report HERE)
Looking back on our country’s most notable natural disasters, I’ve gotten a huge wake up call to the fact that most people don’t really think it’ll happen to them…and then it does. I don’t want my family to be in that category.
Look, I am not proposing for everyone to build a bomb shelter and while away the days in fear—that’s no way to live—but it is OK to use a little common sense when it comes to protecting your family.
Starting your Emergency Kit:
As a frugal family, we’re stingy on most things, but —in our recent realization—not when it comes to health and safety. Our logic is, spend the extra money and time now so in the event of a true emergency it will pay off to be prepared.
There are lots of emergency kits that can be purchased online, but you can also build your own all at once or a little at a time as your budget allows. For example, each trip to the store, grab gallons of water, canned and non-perishable goods that are on sale—including medicine and first-aid supplies. On a side note, as a firm believer in the power of plants, I plan on stocking up on essential oils, herbal tonics and tinctures as our budget allows (i.e. Milk Thistle is good to have on hand in case of accidental poisoning or toxicity.)
I’ve started a list of supplies for my family, and as soon as I publish this article, we’re getting to work building our emergency kit. Many of these items are found online or at the local JeffCo Army Surplus Store:
- Meals Ready to Eat (MRE): MyFoodStorage.com has a calculator that can help you determine your family’s needs depending on the number of adults and children in your household
- Water Storage: Water preserving drops, Water safe testing kit, bottled water, water purification filters, etc.
- Buy in Bulk: canned fruits, veggies and meats, crackers, batteries, matches, propane, grains/yeast, rice
- Supplies on hand: cardboard, blankets, matches, candles, camping gear i.e. portable grill and accessories, oil lamp with oil, flash lights, duct tape
- First Aid: bandages, anti-infection cream, anti-fungal cream, medicine
- Battery powered and solar powered communication gear like radios, transmitters, etc.
- A portable kit complete with the above items for your car as well as flares, maps, extra blankets, clothing and shoes (can find at the thrift store to keep in care at all times for emergency, not for fashion!)
- Books: Manuals on survival tips, edible plants, first aid and trauma treatment would be great to have on hand.
- I found TheReadyStore.com that offers pretty much all of the above including a group discount if you wanted to go in with friends and family
I’m no expert, but I am a mom, so summon your inner boy scout/ girl scout and join in the discussion. Please feel free to add to the list if you see something missing as my list is far from complete. Together we can help spread the awareness of emergency preparedness for our family, friends and neighbors.
Additional information on Emergency/Disaster Preparedness in Colorado:
- American Red Cross Disaster Information
- Colorado Division of Emergency Management
- University of Colorado at Boulder’s Natural Hazards Center
**Please note that the author does not get paid to promote any company mentioned in this article.