National Preparedness Month Couldn’t Come Soon Enough

What have Americans learned in 2020? Plenty. But I would have to say the No. 1 lesson U.S. citizens have learned this year is to be prepared.

A global pandemic that has hit Americans hard. Powerful hurricanes with forecasts for more to come. Vicious tornadoes. Civil unrest that keeps getting worse.

This perfect storm of natural and manmade disasters has led to one glaring conclusion. We need to be prepared for the worst.

And what better time to start than during National Preparedness Month where this year’s theme is: "Disasters Don't Wait. Make Your Plan Today."

First Up, Hurricane Laura

We’ve been hearing about how this could be a worse-than-normal hurricane season. Louisiana and Texas residents got a stark reminder of that forecast recently.

The strongest hurricane to strike Louisiana since 1856, Category 4 Laura arrived with 150 mph winds. It ripped houses apart and demolished parts of the electric grid.

The storm surge of nine to 12 feet led to some of the 24 deaths in the two states. Approximately 600,000 people lost power. Property damage is estimated at $8-9 billion.

Entergy Louisiana CEO Phillip May said this. “Folks should expect extended power outages lasting weeks.”

Pandemic Complicates Responses, Evacuations

Making response times slower and evacuations more complicated was the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents just can’t pour into shelters like they used to. There’s too much risk of spreading the virus.

About 9,200 evacuees in New Orleans were housed in 33 different hotels. Which presents a huge logistical problem for those trying to care for them.

Colin Arnold is the New Orleans emergency preparedness director. Here’s what he said.

“We would be congregate sheltering in any other hurricane season without COVID-19 hanging over our heads. We would be in large stadiums, arenas.”

Firefighters Worry About Their Health

This is also true when dealing with other natural disasters. Including wildfires. Firefighters always inhale some smoke. When they start coughing, some wonder if they’ve been infected with the coronavirus.

“Smoke affects your respiratory system and affects the immune system.” So says wildland fire expert Jim Whittington.

“It’s natural for firefighters as they work during the pandemic to wonder if they caught the virus.”

And when firefighters see their comrades get tested, they start worrying about their own health.

Evacuees at Increased Risk

The virus also makes it very difficult for those who have to evacuate due to fires, hurricanes and tornadoes. Especially for those without cars.

When getting away by bus or train, it’s very difficult to keep six feet apart from others.

Kristy Dahl says disaster evacuations are almost certain  to increase COVID-19 cases. She’s a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“You can minimize that risk by encouraging people to go to counties where there’s a low transmission rate.”

Preparedness Checklist

If it wasn't obvious before, it certainly is now. Between the pandemic, hurricanes, wildfires, and everything in between, emergency preparedness should be everyone’s top of mind. 

You can't depend on the government to help you in a crisis. And the next disaster could be right around the corner. Luckily, it’s not too late to start. 

The first thing you’ll want to do is gather supplies to be able to ride out any emergency at home. Most importantly, this includes food, water, and a source of backup power for critical devices. 

But if a disaster requires you to evacuate, you need a fully stocked bug-out bag near the front door.

Here are some of the most important items you should have ready at home, in bug-out bags or in your vehicle: 

  • At least a 72-Hour supply of non-perishable foods (with little to no cooking required)
  • Water (a minimum of 1-gallon per person per day for drinking and additional uses)
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Cell phone and charger
  • First-aid kit, including prescription medications
  • Important family documents
  • Pet food and extra water for your animal

Regaining Control Through Preparedness

The simple best thing you can to prepare is to be ready BEFORE strikes. Especially when it comes to food. 

Both FEMA and the Red Cross suggest that every American have at least 72 hours of non-perishable food on hand.

But with COVID-19 continuing to disrupt the food chain and rumors of food shortages on the horizon, gaining “food security” is much easier said than done. 

That’s why we here at 4Patriots want to get food into the hands of as many deserving Americans as possible. We have options to fit every household size and budget. To see our full line of nutritious food, designed to last 25 years, go here.

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