You are Your Own First Responder – 4 Tips Toward Overcoming Disaster Denial

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More than 2 million families experience some sort of disaster or major emergency every year.  These incidences range from major events that simultaneously affect hundreds of thousands of businesses, employees and workers such as the current flooding in Louisiana or wild fires in California, to individual, more personal catastrophes. Yet, less than half of the families in America have taken even a single step to prepare themselves for such misfortunes.


Catastrophic Floods In Louisiana Have Caused Massive Housing Damages

Devastating floods in Louisiana have left an estimated 40,000 houses damaged; some 86,000 people have applied for federal disaster aid in …

As businesses and employers, we play an important part in encouraging our employees, vendors, supply chain partners, students, parents and community to act with a spirit of personal preparedness and resiliency.

We all know disasters can and do hit and that one could strike your employees and their families, including your own.

How is it then, that we don’t prepare for emergencies? Those who ignore the need to prepare give several reasons, including:

  1. “I don’t know what to do.”
  2. “It will take too much time.”
  3. “It’s too expensive!”
  4. “What’s the point?”

Individuals control their own disaster preparedness. No one is more interested in protecting themselves and family than the individual and only they understand their particular situation.

According to Persuadable Research, preparing for a disaster is probably fairly low on most peoples’ list. It’s not much fun to do or think about for many of us. Still, there are quite a few people who consider themselves ready for anything, from a natural disaster to a man-made one. Persuadable Research’s recent study has shown that 49% claim they are ready for a disaster.
disaster chart
What items do people appear to have on hand? Items gathered included everything from candles to garbage bags, bleach, batteries, food, water and cash. In fact, some appear to have enough of these items to last more than a month.

Most, however, believe that it is important to have enough to last for at least more than a week. This matches the amount of time that most people think it would take for the .

Previous experience with a disaster appeared to be a strong motivator for many. Other motivating factors include wanting to protect and care for family members such as a spouse or children. Nearly one out of five were afraid of what would happen if a disaster occurred, which encouraged them to prepare.

Why are nearly half unprepared? Most pointed toward a lack of time and money. Yet, others just seemed disinterested; about 20% intended to just “wing it” if something goes wrong. Others said they just hadn’t given disaster preparedness much thought.

When asked whether the government would be able to provide assistance in the event of an emergency 28 % were uncertain about the government’s response and 30 % were convinced the government was incapable of assisting.

These survey results confirm not only a lack of preparedness, but also reflect a cavalier attitude and flat out denial of both unforeseen and predictable disturbances… what we refer to as the “What, me worry?” syndrome. This attitude pervades, even though many of us already understand that the government would be unable to provide assistance immediately in the event of an emergency.

Isn’t it time for some ‘attitude adjustment’?

Let’s take a quick look at each of these excuses, one by one. If you subscribe to any of them, we hope to change your mind.Download the Disaster Planning Book for Free

1: “What’s the Point?”

While we all admit we should be prepared for a disaster, to some degree at least, we also acknowledge there is no way to be ready for every eventuality. This discouraging thought tends to get generalized into thinking there’s no point in doing any preparation at all. Switch gears now. In a more positive light, we can prepare for many emergencies.

Here’s how:

Water – Supply can be cut off without warning. So, fill several plastic gallon containers with water and store them under the sink. While you’re at it, put additional containers in the trunk of each car.
Time to Prepare: Low Cost: Low Potential Benefit: High

Food – Granted, food will do you no good if your home is destroyed, but it will help in most other disasters.
Time to Prepare: Low Cost: Low Potential Benefit: High

Evacuation Plan – Often you don’t know what kind of disaster to expect, so you can’t predict if you will stay put or evacuate. Having a plan will facilitate making logical and calm decisions.
Time to Prepare: Low Cost: Low Potential Benefit: High

In summary, you really can do many things to make a significant and positive difference for you and your family before a disaster is upon you. As with many of the suggestions, they involve minimal effort, time and money. It’s a matter of changing your attitude and outlook…from leaving matters to chance to taking control.

2: “It’s Too Expensive!”

San Diego,CA.,October 25, 2007--Helicopters drop water and retardent on the Harris fire, near the Mexican border, to stop the wildfire from advancing. Currently the fires in Southern California have burned nearly 350,000 acres. Andrea Booher/FEMA

Think large. Act small. When shifting our focus to preparing for a disaster, we unnecessarily pressure ourselves right away. This all-or-nothing approach backfires because we end up doing nothing! However, if we approach preparation more constructively and think in terms of manageable pieces, anyone can afford to prepare, regardless of budget. Don’t feel ineffective if you don’t have enough money to buy a generator right now or have a place for one. Feel empowered by having a couple of flashlights (and fresh batteries) on hand and some long-burning candles. Remember- if you own a car it can be used as a generator, as long as it has gas in the tank and you have an inverter (converts your car’s DC current to AC) that plugs in. Other easily affordable items:

  • Plastic soda, water and similar containers for water storage. Bottles acquired in your normal shopping should be thoroughly rinsed out, filled with tap water and stashed away.
  • Extra rations of peanut butter, protein bars, canned vegetables or dry cereal. These non-perishables can be a part of your emergency kit for a long time before they must be replaced. Remember to have a manual can opener handy!

Sure, you can spend a lot of money preparing for a disaster, but it’s not necessary. Many of the most basic critical supplies can be at the ready very economically, often for as little as $30 to $50.

3: “It Takes Too Much Time”

This is another misconception, but don’t get wrapped up in the big picture. Rather, break down the problem into reasonable chunks of time and energy. No, you won’t get completely prepared today or even next week. Focus instead on the issue at hand; on what you can make happen…on those small individual motions that are part of the larger process. You will be there soon enough.

Decide where you’re going to keep your emergency flashlights and candles. It can be in any cool, dark place, just so you and your family know where to look when the lights go out.
Time required: seconds

Add candles, waterproof matches, a flashlight or two and extra batteries to your next shopping trip.
Time required: less than 5 minutes

Schedule a time with your family to have a conversation about preparing for an emergency. An hour or so over dinner can mean the difference between chaos and calm during a disaster.
Time required: 60–90 minutes

4: “I Don’t Know What to Do”

While you undoubtedly don’t know everything about preparing for a disaster, give yourself a little credit! Reading this article and downloading our companion book Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America is a wonderful start for you and your employees.

You probably already possess the following basic knowledge:

  • Food and water are critical. Okay: learn how much you actually need and the details of the long-term storage of each.
  • Roads become parking lots in large-scale emergencies. So: learn to protect yourself and ride out the disaster at home (outside of a mandatory evacuation, of course).
  • Banks are closed or cash reserves are unavailable. Plan ahead.
  • Social media can help or hurt in disaster: do not overshare!
  • At times, evacuation is mandatory. No problem: learn the basics of an orderly exodus to safety (and don’t post your address on social media).

Preparing for disaster doesn’t require a lot of study or survival expertise. It is hands-on and pre-active. In fact, most disaster preparedness is common sense.

Preparing for Disaster Reduces Anxiety

louisiana_flooding_FemaDisasters are a natural part of living. Hardly a day goes by that you don’t hear about some sort of calamity befalling fellow citizens. The media invites and encourages worry and stress. In fact, because you are so bombarded with “fear messaging,” you just shut out any threat that could apply to you. You consciously avoid thinking about any potential harm that could come to you or your loved ones, despite the nonstop stream of gloom and doom. But the uneasiness is there.

With some structured preparation you can start reversing course today and turn your energy and misguided helplessness into confidence. Imagine how you would feel right now if you were fully prepared for a disaster; your plans are in place, they’ve been updated during the last six months, critical supplies are within easy reach and you know what to do. You’d be feeling confident, right?

It’s Up To You

There’s simply no way around it, preparing for a disaster is your responsibility. Although the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, your state government and your local government all plan to help in a disaster, the truth is you can’t count on them being where you need them when you need them. The same is true for your power company, land line, cell phone company, internet provider, water company, or even private agencies like the Red Cross.

Each of the above entities works hard to solve problems when disaster strikes, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to address your particular problems in a timely fashion. By default, you are your own first responder…so you need to take charge now! The sooner you start the better, and we’ve made it easy for you – Download our ebook for free and get started!


LA-Area Blue Cut Wildfire Now 22% Contained, Still 36000 Acres…ABC News

Firefighters attack huge California wildfire by air, ground…Fox News

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