All disasters (whether a wildfire, a missing button, or a surprise dinner guest) have a cycle. Knowing this cycle will help you understand some of the steps and advice that you read here at Everyday Providence. There are literally hundreds of forms to this cycle, some specific to certain disasters or settings. Many details and subdivisions can be added, as well. I have tried to break this down into the simplest form to get you started.
The impact, emergency, disaster, or event may be a predicted or unexpected event.
Response is what is done immediately to address the effects of the emergency.
Recovery represents steps to return life to an everyday (normal) status.
Mitigation is taking steps to reduce your risk or losses during an emergency.
Preparedness is planning, collecting, and training that may benefit during an emergency.
Here are some examples:
Event - Unexpected dinner guest(s)
Response - Everyone gets a smaller piece of lasagna
Recovery - Make coffee and raid you secret stash of chocolate
Mitigation - Establish a rule that you must call ahead if you are bringing a dinner guest
Preparedness - Add some dinner stretchers to your pantry and freezer
Event - Burned out light bulb
Response - Use a flashlight to see
Recovery - Go to store to purchase new bulb, install new bulb
Mitigation - Use longer life bulbs, turn of lights when not in the room
Preparedness - Keep a flashlight in the kitchen drawer, keep a box of extra bulbs in the pantry
Event - Dog has cut his foot in the yard
Response - Inspect wound and wrap foot with a towel
Recovery - Proceed to the veterinarian to have cut treated
Mitigation - Remove sharp items from yard, hammer "popped" nails back into deck
Preparedness - Pet first aid training
Event - Need to take dessert to kids' meeting tonight
Response - Panic!
Recovery - Stop at bakery on the way to the meeting
Mitigation - Inform kids that more notice is needed for snacks
Preparedness - Keep a box of double fudge brownies in the pantry
Event - Thunderstorm rolls through your area damaging cars and homes
Response - Everyone at home heads for basement and avoids windows
Recovery - Those not at home call to say they are safe, then someone calls out of town contact
Mitigation - Trees around house are trimmed regularly to avoid a downed limb
Preparedness - Emergency provisions kept in the basement include flashlights and snacks
Understand that emergencies are inevitable, but as you continue around the cycle each step can become weaker. You certainly will respond to an emergency. But how will you respond? Will your response be well thought out? Will it cause further problems later? (Think of housing the hurricane refugees in the Superdome with no food or bathrooms.) You will likely recover completely from all but the most dramatic disasters. But what disruptions will you face in the mean time? How can family harmony be restored? Did the power outage spoil all your food? Mitigation is optional. Many people take no steps to avoid future losses after an emergency. Rebuilding in a flood plain? Not talking about future plans in emergencies? And preparedness often takes a backseat to the everyday concerns of life. Not enough money for extra food stores. Not enough time to take a class or attend a meeting. Not enough discipline to leave emergency supplies in their place.
You are already reading this blog. That's a great first step. We will strive to provide proven and relevant information on a variety of topics. But it's not enough to keep you, your family, and your community safe. Don't just sit there, do something to prepare for the best.