Preparedness Disaster can strike at any moment, at home or abroad. While preparation is vital, relief responses are integral in the aftermath.
When Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, aid agencies sprang into action. But what many people don’t realize is how much work was done long before Haiyan made landfall. From preparing communities for evacuation, to running disaster simulations, to pre-positioning relief supplies around the world, aid agencies are always planning ahead for the worst.
The power of preparedness
Earlier this year, we saw hundreds of thousands of lives saved when authorities evacuated coastal areas as Cyclone Phailin hit India. What we call “disaster risk reduction” really works.
With sudden-onset natural disasters, however, no amount of preparation can save every house or farm. Communities will always need help getting back on their feet. That’s where assistance like food, shelter, and livelihood support come in.
Then, there are the slow-burn disasters, which can be at least, if not sometimes, more devastating. Since 2011, over 2 million people have fled bombs and bullets in war-torn Syria. In some ways, it can be harder to provide relief in an ongoing disaster like Syria’s civil war. Even so, we cannot afford to forget the people affected by this conflict.
Effective relief requires collaboration between aid agencies, and needs to begin long before disaster strikes and continue well after the media spotlight fades. With a 360-degree approach—from building resilience and risk reduction, to response, to rebuilding—we can make sure a disaster is a setback, instead of an end.
"Effective relief requires collaboration between aid agencies, and needs to begin long before disaster strikes and continue well after the media spotlight fades."
Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, fires, earthquakes and floods can happen at any time. Sadly, the effects can be devastating. All we have worked to build could instantly be destroyed. Since we cannot prevent natural disasters, we should prepare for the unexpected.
Supply kits should include drinking water, non-perishable food, a radio, a flashlight, extra batteries, a first aid kit, scissors, hand sanitizer, plastic sheeting, duct tape and a whistle.
Sit down and decide how you will get in touch with each other, where you will go and what you will do in case of an emergency. Keep a copy of the plan in the emergency supply kit or another safe place, such as a safe deposit box.
Communities will often warn residents if a disaster is imminent. Understand how officials will communicate this information to you. It is possible that you will hear a siren or receive a telephone call, or an emergency worker may come to your door.
Remember, these disasters can happen with little to no warning. Conduct regular drills for the most common hazards such as a fire, tornado or earthquake.