Over the years, I’ve watched major disasters unfold in the news. While I was glued to the TV, radio, and internet waiting for updates and trying to figure out what I could do to help those who lived so far away; in the back of my mind I was always grateful. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I was grateful that I didn’t live in a place that has regular incidents of hurricanes, tornado’s, or earthquakes. Part of me just couldn’t fathom why people would live in a place that was so dangerous.
At a recent disaster preparedness training put on by the Red Cross at an AmeriCorps event, I was reminded how wrong my thinking really was. Flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, earthquakes, volcanoes, drought, avalanches, severe storms, tsunamis, flu outbreaks, dam failures, nuclear plant failures- as for disasters, Washington is one of the few states that is pretty much susceptible to them all.
Once the reality that we actually live in a very dangerous place sunk in, the training reminded me that there are some very simple (and inexpensive) steps we can take to prepare ourselves. While there was a lot of really useful information at the training (and I highly encourage you to visit Red Cross Washington<http://www.redcrosswashington.org/index.htm> for more information), here are the top 10 CHEAP things I learned that you can do to prepare yourself for a disaster.
1. Disasters can, will, and do happen in Washington. Obviously some areas of Washington are more susceptible to certain disasters than others. Take some time to learn what disasters could potentially happen in your area.
2. Meet your neighbors. Such an easy thing to do and yet for many people such an easy thing not to do. Like many of my friends, I rely on Metro to get around- which means none of us have cars. In an emergency, is their a neighbor that has a car that would be willing to let you ride along? Is there someone to knock on your door if you live alone? Is there someone in your neighborhood that might need some extra assistance in the event of an emergency? Get out and meet the people, now.