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Managing Your Utilities During a Disaster

According to the United Nations, disasters are events that cause serious disruptions to the functioning of a community or a society.

  1. Types of Disasters

Though often caused by nature, disasters can have human origins. Such disruptions involve human, material, economic or environmental impacts that exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources.

Natural disasters

The International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies defines Natural Disasters as naturally occurring physical phenomena caused either by rapid or slow onset events that have immediate impacts on human health and secondary impacts causing further death and suffering. They can be geophysical such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, hydro-logical such as floods, climatological such as extreme temperatures, meteorological such as cyclones and storms and biological such as disease epidemics and animal plagues.

Man-made disasters

These events include environmental degradation, pollution and accidents that usually involve hazardous materials such as Chernobyl.

Complex emergencies

Some disasters can result from complex combination of both natural and man-made causes such as armed conflicts and food insecurity. Such emergencies are characterized by extensive violence, displacement of populations, loss of life and widespread damage to societies.

Pandemic

Although 2020 has explained it too well, it is characterized by an infectious disease that spreading across a large region, just like COVID-19 marched across the globe, taking and threatening lives while putting the global economy on pause. 

2. Importance of Being Prepared for Disasters

Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters. Moreover, good preparation can help you reduce the impact of disasters such as flood proofing, elevating a home or moving a home out of harm’s way, and securing items that could shake loose in an earthquake. Sometimes, preparation can help avoid the danger completely.

3. Disaster Prep Tips

You need to have an escape route. Draw a floor plan of your home. Use a blank sheet of paper for each floor. Mark two escape routes from each room. You should also establish a place to meet in the case of a fire for example, such as the nearest parking lot.

Prepare an emergency kit

Prepare to be self-sufficient for at least three days by including non-perishable food, water, a flashlight, a portable, medicines, anti-bacterial hand gel, first aid kit, money, clothing, and sanitation supplies.  Change stored food and water supplies every six months and be sure to write the date you store it on all containers. You should re-assess your needs every year and update your kit accordingly.

Learn first aid

Learn first aid and CPR from your local Red Cross.

If you need to be evacuated

Call your Georgia Natural Gas provider, turn off electricity, gas, and main water valve.  If time permits, elevate or move furniture to upper floors.

If you are staying home

Stay calm and listen constantly to a battery-powered radio or television. Stay away from windows and glass doors. If power is lost, turn off all appliances and keep the refrigerator as well as freezer closed. Basic utilities such as electricity, gas, water and telephones may be cut off for days or longer so your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.

After a disaster

Turn on your portable radio or television for instructions and news reports. Use a flashlight to cautiously check for gas and water leaks, broken electrical wiring or sewage lines. Check for downed power lines. Check your home for cracks and damage, including the roof, chimneys and foundation. Take pictures of the damage for insurance claims.

Takeaway

Disasters disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Each disaster has lasting effects to societies, property and economies. You need to know how to respond to severe weather or any disaster that could occur in your area and also be ready to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours by providing a shelter, first aid, food, water, and sanitation.