Friday, May 20, 2011

Zombie Apocalypse!

Get A Kit,    Make A Plan, Be Prepared.
Regardless of whether you think the world is coming to an end on 5-21-2011, you have to admit that  floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters happen all too frequently. Just this week, we heard heartstring-tugging stories from individuals who lost everything when a bloated Mississippi river swallowed their homes and towns. A few weeks ago, the earthquake and the resulting tsunami in Japan brought home how quickly nature can destroy civilization - some of the videos I saw showed the progression from dry streets to entire blocks of buildings being washed off their foundations in about 6 minutes.

That's not a lot of time to grab important documents or mementos and to flee the area, or to communicate with loved ones how or where to meet up if you are displaced from your home. That's why organizations, such as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),* encourage people to think about what they would do if faced with a flood, hurricane, or other natural or man-made disaster in advance of any event actually happening.

Currently, the CDC is running a sort of corny, sort of weird, but ultimately extremely useful campaign for disaster preparedness. By getting our attention with, of all things, warnings of a zombie apocalypse, the government then proceeds to offer very practical advice on  how to prepare for events that could dramatically affect your life.

The site contains useful tips, such as what to put into an emergency kit that everyone should have in their house. Rations of water, food, and other necessary supplies (such as medicines) can get you and your family through the first few days after a disaster when there may be no power or if the roads are impassible. Did you know the recommended amount of water to stockpile is 1 gallon per person per day?

Emergency kits are not just for use in the house - CDC also recommends stocking the kit with copies of important documents in case you have to leave your house quickly. Having copies of your drivers license, insurance information, birth certificate, and so on located in one place makes it much easier to quickly leave a dangerous situation, and also to replace originals or to get appropriate help if, for example, someone is injured and urgently needs medical care.

The site also counsels on a family emergency plan - where you would go in an emergency and how you would get there. Every family should consider this practical issue and select a place to meet if you get separated, whether it is in the front yard by the mailbox, or a location outside of your neighborhood if you are unable to return home.

No one wants to think about the worst that could happen. But CDC's message is a good one - by preparing in advance for the unthinkable, you have a better chance of surviving a disaster and an easier time rebuilding your life after one. Go here to learn more about how you can prepare for and stay safe during an emergency.

CDC knows what it is talking about. This boots-on-the-ground organization sends public health professionals around the world to help countries deal with emergencies. Go here to learn more about CDC's emergency activities and how it responds to disasters around the world. Did you know that part of CDC is actually a branch of the military? The US Public Health Commissioned Corps is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States and consists of 6,500 health professionals that deliver the Nation's public health promotion and disease prevention programs.

Ben Franklin was right: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So invest a little time in thinking through scenarios and preparing for the worst. And then you can hope for the best, secure in the knowledge that you will be as ready as possible.


* Disclosure: CDC, but not this particular center (it's a big place!), is one of my clients. 

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