Editor’s note: Zak Willis co-wrote the below article with Eric Herchenhahn, ENA’s Lead Customer Support Engineer.
Saying that teachers have a very important responsibility is an understatement on par with noting that rain is wet. Being a history nut myself, I find that history teachers in particular play a special role in the lives of children. They show kids that people who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Learning that lesson when it comes to weather awareness and storm protection is something ENA has taken to heart. We at ENA have witnessed our customers fall victim to various natural disasters over the last few years, which range from the flood that affected so many schools in Middle Tennessee in 2010, the decimation by Hurricane Irene on the East Coast in 2011 and the tornado that destroyed Henryville High School in Indiana earlier this year. Since our history as a company is made up of the lives of our customers, we can tell you from first hand experience the tragic stories these storms can cause with hopes that we all learn from the past so we can be aware and better prepared for the future.
With Hurricane Isaac already on the Gulf Coast, I thought this would be a good time to discuss some things we all should know about being prepared for the worst. A lack of preparedness is the primary culprit that turns a natural disaster into a catastrophe. By being aware of your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can prepare to reduce the effects of a natural disaster.
If you have ever watched the Weather Channel, listened to the news or taken a step outside into the real world, you already know that severe storms and disasters come in many different sizes and flavors. These include rainfall, flooding, hail, tornados, snow, lightning, hurricanes, wind, earthquake and zombie apocalypse (hey, it could happen!). Each of these can cause not only cause catastrophic destruction to property, but also bodily injury or death. This is why it is of utmost importance to understand Emergency Preparedness and have a plan in case one of these natural (or supernatural, re: zombies) events shamble into your neighborhood. I encourage you to do a little research online to find out what dangers each of these types of disasters represent. You may be blown away (no pun intended) by what you find! That’s just part of being aware and prepared.
Being prepared isn’t just something other people should be concerned about. You might say something like, “Sure, people in California are prepared for Earthquakes. That’s what they get for living over a giant hole in the ground! But how does that affect me?” Believe me, I say the same thing. However, just because you and I might not worry about earthquakes, doesn’t mean we can ignore the potential for our own respective regions’ disasters. People who live in Tornado Alley have to worry about those big twisters, Gulf Coast areas have to worry about hurricanes, some communities may face multiple threats like flash flooding and severe lightning, and let’s face it, zombies could strike anywhere at any time! Keeping in mind that Americans travel now more than ever, it’s wise to know what natural conditions exist in an area that you’re visiting and have an understanding how they may differ from the ones you’re accustomed to facing in your home territory. Before a disaster, learn how you will know there is an impending hazardous event. Familiarize yourself with the signs of events that come without warning and know the local advance alerts and warnings and how you will receive them. Knowing about the local emergency plans for shelter and evacuation and local emergency contacts will help you develop your household plan and will also aid you during a crisis. Everyone be aware! Everyone be prepared!
Thinking ahead is NOT the same thing as being paranoid. Knowing what to do before, during and after an emergency is a critical part of being prepared and may make the difference when seconds count. The benefits of taking the time to consider what dangers are out there and plan for them are many and proven. Planning ahead reduces the need for decision making when disasters happen. It gives you confidence that you and your family will be safe during and after the event. It ensures that you will have back up supplies that are critical for sustaining life and health in place. Having a previously thought out, regularly practiced plan reduces the risk of human error during a crisis. Planning of this nature makes you aware of those things that can be insured against disaster and gives you a chance to take appropriate action before the worst happens. Lastly, being prepared for one type of disaster will allow you to manage better even when other unexpected emergencies occur. After all, nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition. Even though they weren’t aware, I bet if they were prepared, it wouldn’t have been quite as bad.
Many of the same proactive actions you can take to be prepared for one type of emergency are important for facing a number of hazards. Safety is always your primary concern so it should be your focus when thinking through your reaction strategy. Communication is right behind safety when considering your plan. Develop a reliable way to check in with your family that will also allow them to get in touch with you. Sending smoke signals isn’t reliable, and sometimes neither is a higher form of technology like a cell phone. It may be a good idea to have multiple plans for being in touch. People are often hurt worse trying to contact their loved ones after a disaster than when the disaster initially strikes. Keep in mind that communication with the world is important as well, as you will certainly want to make sure you have a way to receive news updates and possibly some way to call for help. A predetermined escape route or place to hide is a great practice no matter the threat. “Plan and practice, practice, practice” should be your motto here. Making a supply kit is a universally understood necessity, but take care in planning what should go into yours. Ask yourself if anyone in your family will need access to special medicines or if there are hazards particular to your environment that may require special types of supplies. If you don’t have snakes in your area, a snake bite kit may not be needed, but maybe you live in an area where Velociraptors are a threat. If that’s the case, you’ll want to make sure your survival kit can deal with those in some way. The point is this: a logical planning strategy will help you put your kit together as long as it’s done before a disaster. Be aware of your needs and be prepared to provide for them.
While it’s impossible to have a contingency plan for everything nature can throw at us, by making calculated preparations, we can reduce the devastation that huge natural events can cause. While writing this blog, I realized that there is no way I could even mention all the details that would be good to know, but there is a lot of information out there on the web. Hit up Google, do some searches and read through some of the suggestions that rescue professionals have made. You’ll find a lot of good tips that could potentially save your life if you follow them in advance. While ENA is a technology company, we understand that infrastructures, buildings and machines can be rebuilt, but your safety cannot be discounted, taken for granted or replaced. Please be aware. Please be prepared.
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