Natural Disaster Emergencies: Getting Your House in Order

In light of the recent natural disaster in Japan, no doubt many of us are prompted to reflect on our own readiness to withstand an emergency. We do not want to be fearful or in panic mode, but we do want to consider our own state of preparedness. Emergencies come without warning. There is wisdom in having a plan in place if an earthquake or other hazardous emergency comes about. For some, just having a medical kit or knowing what to do in an earthquake may be enough information to save a life. This article is intended to invite you to become aware of what your core needs are in the event assistance is not available, and to develop a plan to meet those needs.

Practical Preparedness
Take inventory of the types of things you need in order to maintain life. Food, water, and prescriptions come to mind.

A good first step to emergency preparedness is having a first aid kit or grab bag that contains essential supplies, enough to sustain each person in your home for at least three days. Include personal hygiene items, and medical supplies like bandages, Bactine or any first aid antiseptic or pain reliever, and an antibiotic ointment. Add prescription medications. For these, you might consider a seven-day supply. Include items you might need should you be stranded for a few days, or need to evacuate. Some provisions that are easy to overlook are: health and insurance documents, emergency contact information, and help aids, such as an extra pair of glasses or a cane, or other equipment that may be useful to people with mobility disabilities. The Red Cross has an extensive list of supplies to keep on hand in case an emergency comes. Pre–made kits with basic resources are also available online. To find out more information about services offered by the American Red Cross, including how to obtain assistance and how to notify you family that you are safe after a disaster, visit The American Red Cross website.

Health Care Preparedness
Do you know what your medical coverage policy says about medical services that arise due to a natural disaster? Here is a representative sample of the emergency clause on an Individual Kaiser Permanente plan, “We will make a good faith effort to provide or arrange for covered services within the remaining availability of facilities or personnel in the event of unusual circumstances that delay or render impractical the provisions of Services, such as a major disaster epidemic, war, riot, civil insurrection, disability of a large share of personnel at a Plan Facility, complete or partial destruction of facilities, and labor disputes. Under these circumstances, if you have an Emergency Medical Condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital…” In other words, Kaiser Permanente and other health care providers could also be affected by the disaster, so as much as they will do their best to service the community, their services could be impaired. As such, it would be prudent to know how to do basic first aid, especially, if you or a family member has a medical condition. If you do not already have health coverage, click affordable medical insurance for information.

In addition, take a few minutes to review the emergency health insurance provision on your plan. If you do not have health insurance, call at 1-800-514-0958 for assistance.

Shoring Up Relationships
When I heard of the catastrophe in Japan, my first thought was of my family. There is always time to say one more kind word. I’ve heard it said that it is best to do your loving while you are living. Are there relationships that need to be repaired, “Thank you’s” that need to be said, and apologies that need to be exchanged?

No one can’t predict the “when’s” and “where’s” of a natural disaster, but we can take inventory of the things and people that we need and care about most. So that when all is said and done, we would know we’ve done our best to have our house in order.

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