It's About Time
Small tasks get you ready for a disaster
What do Louisiana and Hawaii have in common? The answer: vulnerability to hurricanes.
September is National Preparedness Month, and with the succession of hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, I have a renewed sense of urgency to take preparedness seriously.
On the plus side:
» I have a hurricane kit, albeit incomplete, with masking tape, flashlights and batteries (kept separately so the acid won't leak).
» I have the Handbook for Emergency Preparedness published by Hawaiian Electric Co., which includes checklists for home survival, evacuation and first-aid kits. On Oahu the handbook is available at most City Mill stores and at Hawaiian Electric offices on Richards Street or Ward Avenue.
» I have a good supply of bottled water and food on hand.
» I know where my important papers are (insurance, identification, bank account and mortgage records, etc.).
» I have a battery-operated charger for my cell phone.
» I have identified a protected area in my yard where I can move my outdoor potted plants.
But I realize that there's much more I need to do, including:
» Buy new masking tape to replace the old.
» Buy more tarps and some duct tape.
» Assemble a mess kit (paper plates, cups, utensils) from my existing stock.
» Make copies of important documents and them put in a waterproof plastic bag.
» Gather some candles and matches.
» Pack some changes of clothes and sturdy shoes.
» Add other items such as work gloves (to clean debris), basic tools such as pliers or a wrench (to turn off utilities) and a hammer (to pull nails), scissors, dust mask and plastic ponchos.
» Build up a cash reserve, enough for a long weekend.
» Ask Santa for a hand-crank radio.
Taking care of most of the needs above are minitasks involving things I already have. I know from experience that it's better to prepare now rather than later.
I remember when Hurricane Iniki hit Hawaii. It was 6:45 a.m. when I heard that Iniki was imminent.
I thought I'd beat the crowd and run to the supermarket for additional supplies. To my surprise, the store parking lot was already full, and the line extended into the street!
By the time I was able to enter the store, basic supplies were gone.
I remember thinking, "If only I had picked up the items earlier, at my convenience!"
A friend in San Francisco keeps a sports bag in her car in case she's on the road during an earthquake. In it are extra clothes with flat shoes (should she be wearing heels at the time), windbreaker jacket, blanket, flashlight, first-aid kit and candy.
I encourage you to review preparedness checklists and evaluate your disaster readiness. An ounce of preparation is better than a pound of panic!
See you in two weeks!
Ruth Wong owns Organization Plus. Contact her care of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813, call 488-0288 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org