My brother peered out of his New York City apartment last week and gazed upon the East River 15 feet away from his doorstep. Unfortunately, the East River is usually more than a half mile away.
He and his family live on the first floor and at one point, were preparing to relocate to neighbors on the second floor as Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York. The water never came closer and eventually receded, but not before leaving devastation in its wake. People are still without power, the cost of repairing the damage could reach more than $50 billion and more than a 100 people are confirmed dead.
Despite an early warning of the impending storm, my brother was unprepared. He shrugged off the city’s warnings, saying that New Yorkers were becoming wimps, derided forecasters’ weather models and sounded blas? about the fact that there was a mandatory evacuation for property a block away from where he lived.
Lucky for him, the lack of preparedness didn’t cost him. Next time he might not be so lucky.
But my brother is not so unusual when it comes to ignoring pleas by emergency disaster officials who urge people to stock basic emergency supplies or have an emergency plan – any emergency plan just in case.
According to an Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation poll, 44 percent of those polled don’t have first-aid kits, 48 percent lack emergency supplies and 53 percent do not have a minimum three-day supply of nonperishable food and water at home.
Americans seem to have an overly optimistic view of government’s ability to help them and do it quickly, with 53 percent believing that local authorities will come to their rescue if disaster strikes. As New Orleans and the situation on the northeast coast should indicate, help might arrive, but it will rarely be quickly and the resources will usually not be what it is required.
My little brother (I have three brothers, by the way.) views things differently. He and his family lives in South Pasadena and were there in the windstorms of last year. His area lost power for a while. But he was prepared. One neighbor had a generator, another had an inverter, which can connect to car battery and allows someone to use it to keep basic electrical needs running. He had backup food and water supplies, small solar panels to juice up phones and computer, a bag with extra clothing and personal items, and a safe place for important documents.
He also knew where the outside lines for water and gas were just in case he had to shut them off. (He’s also an electrician and his wife’s a nurse, so you know I’ll be walking quickly over there if things happen, since I recently moved to South Pasadena myself.)
It really doesn’t take much or much time to have a basic emergency survival plan, not just for your house, but if you’re driving or at work. You can view your city’s site to see if they have more information or go to the Los Angeles County website, at http://www.lacounty.gov, and search for the “Emergency Survival Guide” booklet. It has the basic checklists.
It won’t save you from the zombie invasion. But if a disaster strikes and cuts you and your neighborhood off from quick help, you won’t be worrying if that bathtub of water and that half a box of cereal is going to last you long enough for help to arrive.