What to Do When Disaster Strikes
The first few moments immediately following a disaster are critical. In order to ensure long-term survival, you obviously need to ensure your short-term survival first. You do this by taking stock of your situation, reacting appropriately, and executing your retreat plan.
Taking Stock of the Situation
As soon as you realize something is wrong, you need to determine exactly what is happening. Turn on the radio, turn on the television, and check the Internet. Believe it or not, Twitter.com can be very useful for gathering real-time information. In 2011, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck near Washington D.C. Residents living in New York City read about the earthquake seconds before they felt the tremors for themselves. Social media can be a great way to understand what is happening before an official warning can be issued by the government.
Now that you’ve identified the problem, you need to react to it in the correct manner. If the government has issued recommendations for citizens to follow, you should pay attention to them. If you can, you should shelter in-place in your home for a week (or however long you are able) before setting out for your retreat site. Do not join the mass exodus unless your home is in immediate danger of destruction. Keep a low profile. Lock your home and board up windows — remember that people get desperate during an emergency. Electricity and other utilities will not last long, so fill your bathtub and sinks with water. Use a propane or charcoal grill to cook any food that will spoil once your refrigerator stops working. When your toilet stops working, remove the water from the bowl and line the bowl with a heavy trash bag. Removing waste is simple: spray the bag with disinfectant, tie it up, and put the bag in a trash can lined with another heavy bag and fitted with a tight lid.
Executing Your Retreat Plan
Once things have started to calm down outside, you’ll want to make your way to your retreat site. If you have a vehicle, load your emergency kit and head out using your preplanned alternative routes. If you’re evacuating on foot, be careful — keep away from downed power lines and dangerous situations. Don’t talk to strangers and maintain your low profile. If your retreat site belongs to a friend or relative, alert them to your arrival ahead of time if possible.