Friday, January 7, 2011

Responding to an Emerging Crisis

A crisis or survival situation may manifest either without any previous warning or after a series of warnings. If a warning is given before a crisis the warnings are often mixed with conflicting information making it very hard to estimate how serious a threat really is.

After a disaster the information that goes out to the public can contain contradicting information about how serious the incident or situation really is. This is often even more serious if the threat or situation is something that is unfamiliar. Unknown threats present large problems for first responders but also for politicians and other leaders of a community that lack the experience, routines and possibly equipment to handle the situation. Researching different kinds of potential threats can make it easier for you to understand what is going on during a crisis situation and what you can expect. It’s important that you continually try to keep yourself updated and review the situation as its changing.

Responding to an emerging crisis situation
• Try to stay updated by following the news in the media and through the radio. Write down information as it comes in, make a timeline.
• Make a check with family and friends and get an update of their situation.
• If the situation might call for an evacuation check Bug Out Bags and Vehicles. Check potential escape routes; is there any information that suggests that these routes may be blocked or inaccessible?
• Is there any other specific tools or equipment that the situation may call for in addition to the supplies that you’re Bug Out Bag contains?
• Make an inventory/check of the status for water, food, light, storage of gasoline and medical supplies. What specific needs may this threat call for? Is there anything you can do to improve these needs or minimize the consequences?
• Fill up water bottles, water containers and additional water storage if possible.
• Make some additional research about the threat, previous events and lessons learned.
• What is the weather forecast for the coming days?

A crisis or survival situation will be both stressful and frustrating. Sometimes help from outside sources may come very fast from first responders but in other situation the scale of a disaster may overwhelm a society and you may have to make do with what you have. If external help is not available you will have to manage the situation yourself. Information that goes out during a crisis is affected by the ongoing situation. Even if government agencies are planning to send help to a region damaged infrastructure or lack of resource may delay or prevent the help from arriving. Traveling with airline, bus or train may also be problematic and delays should be expected.

The importance of being Prepared
If you can can’t keep warm or get access to water a bad situation may get lethal in case of a long lasting emergency or natural disaster quite fast. If you do not have access to food, light, medical supplies and a way of receiving information like a battery powered radio your situation will be much more uncomfortable and the sense of insecurity larger than it would otherwise be. The equipment and preparations that you have made before a crisis can mean the difference between life and death. It can also prove to be the difference between having to endure a crisis under extreme hardship or with ease.

[ ] Sleeping bags, blankets, clothing and some kind of heater?
[ ] Equipment to start a fire?
[ ] Water and equipment to collect and purify water?
[ ] Food that does not have to be stored in a refrigerator?
[ ] Some kind of stove that can be used to prepare food in case of black out?
[ ] Sources of light? Spare batteries and extra fuel?
[ ] First aid kit and basic medical supplies?
[ ] Some kind of radio that can be used in case of a black out?
[ ] An emergency toilet?

Keeping a log
It’s important that you keep a log of the information that you are receiving. When did you receive the information and from what source? Can any other source confirm this information? If you make contact with friends or family members make sure to write down the time when you made contact with them, what their situation was, what their plans are and how you can make contact with them again.

If you are in a larger group or with your family I suggest that you have a briefing every night and morning about what has taken place during the day, what new information that has become available and what the plans are for the next day.

No matter the situation it is very important that you
• Try to stay positive, alert and calm
• Don’t second guess yourself or think about what you could have done differently to avoid or divert the situation, keep the focus on the situation at hand.
• Keep planning and taking steps to reduce the consequences of the disaster. The situation will most likely continue to change and it’s important that you stay updated.
• Keep a regular update on water and supplies – what should your priority be right now?
• Make sure that everyone has a task to do and get organized. Just sitting around and waiting will not improve a bad situation. Make sure that water gets collected and purified, that food get prepared on regular times if possible, take care of hygiene and try to keep the location you’re in as clean and organized as possible.
• How one should handle a situation if there is children present can be difficult. But I would recommend that you explain the situation as best you can and explain what you are doing to make it better. If you don’t know answers don’t be afraid to say so.
• Look after your friends and family.

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