Disaster Preparedness

FEMA defines a disaster as, “An event that requires resources beyond the capability of a community and requires a multiple agency response.” The keywords in this definition is, “requires resources beyond the capability.” Disasters come in all sizes and types. Personal disasters may be a home fire where a single family looses almost everything they own and a large scale disaster may be a tornado touching down within a community affecting thousands of people and businesses.   A critical first step to preparedness is to understand the hazards in our communities and to learn about local alerts and warning systems, evacuation routes, and sheltering plans  FEMA categorizes hazards three ways: natural, technological, and intentional (or man-made).  Weather related disaster are mostly likely in our region; however weather related risks aren’t the only risks.

In FEMA Region 5, severe storms account for 49% of the regions presidential disaster Declaration between Dec 1964 to Dec 2013. Severe Storms were followed by flooding (32%) and tornado (29%).  Some technological to consider are Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station,  Marthon’s Detroit Refinery,  a hazardous material spill on I75  (or any surface street), Gas pipelines, etc.  While intentional and technological risks have common risk sources,  intentional risks include all terrorist targets such as schools, government buildings,  water processing plants, etc.  

In the event of a disaster, emergency crews may be overwhelmed with calls and it may take days to reach you.  Having a properly stocked 72-hour emergency kit is important.  A 72-hour kit should (at minimum) include: 

  • Water, one gallon of water per person, per day, for at least three days. (for drinking and sanitation)
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
  • Clothing for 3 days
  • $20 dollars in small bills and change