Walkie-talkie on a table - Photo by Athena from Pexels.com

Emergency Communication Plan

     “I can’t get a signal out,” Jackson complains. He lifts his phone above his head and starts turning slowly in a circle.

     “In a disaster its not uncommon for the network to be tied up due to congestion. Try sending a text message instead of making a phone call. It will probably get out easier. Besides we should leave phone lines free for those who are in need of assistance. Here!” Skye says as she opens her backpack and pulls out walkie talkies. “Keep these with you at all times. Stay on channel 2. If we get separated, we can use these to communicate with each other.”

     “Perfect! If we do get separated and something does happen, let’s all meet back here at the jeep. If for some reason we can’t reunite here, let’s meet at the local store just down from our lodgings. Everyone agree?” Gage asks.

     Everyone nods their agreement.

     “Ok! First thing we need to do is get information. We need to find out how bad things are.”

Learn more about creating an emergency communication plan below.

 

 

 

Map on a tree - Image by Nicholas Demetriades from Pixabay

Evacuation

     You find the mayor and village council members in the village square providing updates and information to several members of the village who had gathered. Many of them wanted to know what they could do to help.

     “Government authorities won’t be able to get supplies out to us for a few days. We are on our own,” You here the mayor’s voice ring above the murmur of the crowd. “There have been several injuries reported, but thankfully no casualty reports. Search and rescue operations are still underway. We have opened a temporary medical area outside of the hospital to accommodate all the injured coming in. As of yet, we do not have an estimate as to when the power will be back on. Additionally, we are placing the village under a boil water notice.

     “Waters from the dam that broke up north have flooded homes near the riverbank. Those families have had to evacuate from their homes. Several other families have lost their homes due to the earthquake. Some of these families have been able to find temporary lodgings with family or friends. Others have not been so lucky. We need volunteers to help set up a temporary shelter for these families. We also need volunteers to gather food, water, and supplies for those in need.”

Learn more about evacuation precedures below.

 

 

 

Water drop surrounded by plants - Photo by Artem Beliaikin

Water Storage

     “What is a boil water notice?” Jackson asks.

     “It means water from the tap may not be safe. We should use bottled water or water from the tap only if it has been boiled for at least 1 minute,” Gage explains. “After an earthquake, utility services can become disrupted. We don’t know if the ground shaking has broken water lines causing contamination. Until we are given an all clear from local authorities the boil notice will stay in effect.”

      Skye points to a house nearby, “Luckily it looks like many homes in the village have those large blue 55-gallon drums for long term water storage. Those wouldn’t be contaminated. Can we see if there are any spare drums we can have for those in the shelter?”

     “True, they wouldn’t be contaminated,” Gage says, “but when full those drums weigh almost 500 pounds. They cannot be transported easily so the water in them needs to be siphoned into a container more transferrable instead. We should still look for water bottles as well as water safe containers that people can use to easily carry and store water in.”

      “Ok! Let’s help to find some water,” Jackson exclaims enthusiastically.

Learn more about storing and purifying water below.

 

 

 

Water under wooden bridge

Hygiene and Sanitation

     “Stay out of the flooded areas”, Gage warns as you watch a villager usher two boys playing out of the water. “Anything that has been touched by flood water could be contaminated. After a disaster it’s important to keep items and oneself clean as the possibility of disease rises.”

     “If the village has gone into a boil water notice, how will we stay clean?” Jackson asks inquisitively.

     “It depends on the extent of the boil water notice, but in most cases regular tap water is ok to use for some things such as washing your hands, washing clothes, and sometimes even bathing. But for other things like drinking, brushing your teeth, or food prep water needs to be bottled, boiled or treated before it can be used. We will need to learn more about the extent of the boil water notice from local authorities to know what is and is not recommended” Gage answers.

     “Sometimes areas use a ‘Do Not Drink Water’ advisory or a ‘Do Not Use Water’ advisory to help residents know what they can and cannot use water for. Its important to know the difference,” Ava added.

     “But a temporary hand washing and hygiene station can also be set up if needed.”

Learn more about hygiene and sanitation during a disaster below.

 

 

 

Cacao bean hanging from tree - Photo by Kyle Hinkson on Unsplash

Food Storage

     You, Ava, and Skye volunteered to help gather food. Many of the village markets had opened their doors to allow volunteers to gather a few food snacks for those staying in the emergency shelter. Some restaurants were preparing meals from the perishables in their fridges. The power was still out and restaurants wanted to use what food they could before it spoiled.

     “What type of food are we looking for again,” Skye asks as the three of you weave your way through the cluttered shelves.

     “We are looking for food items that are ready to eat and will provide a decent source of nutrition,” Ava replies as she grabs a package of dried fruit. “Stay away from salty or spicey foods as that may cause people to become thirsty. In addition, since there are limited supplies, snacks need to be easy to eat without utensils. It won’t be perfect, but meals and supplies will hopefully be coming later.”

     “How about canned fruits and vegetables?” Sky asks holding up a can of corn.

     “Yes, those will work fine. Just make sure the can is not dented or bulging. Also, its better to choose canned foods that are canned in water or juice versus syrup as that will provide another good source of water. We will need to find a can opener…,” Ava trails off thinking.

     “Did you know in ancient times many civilizations stored food in times of disaster?” you say picking through the shelves. “In South America the Incas used Qullqas filled with clay pots in which they stored corn, maize and other grains and legend has it in Kathmandu the method of fermenting food as a preservation method was invented due to a rival king burning crops in an attempt to conquer the Newari people. Storing food sounds like a good idea right now. I think I will work on my food storage when I get back home.

Learn more about building food storage below.

 

 

 

Raging river in jungle - Image by Gary Lewis from Pixabay

Psychological Stress

     By the time the three of you got back from gathering food supplies the temporary shelter had been organized. The local school was the designated site of the shelter. Some families were already milling around inside arranging the meager supplies they were able to grab in the rush of the evacuation around their allotted cots. Other families were still coming through the doors and signing in. It was disheartening to see the number of people in need.

     Jackson was huddled with a group of children in one corner of the shelter. He was telling them a story. His voice and actions very animated. The group of children suddenly erupted into a fit of giggles. It was nice to hear laughter.

Gage walked in carrying an armful of games, books, paper and crayons he had managed to find and put them on a table. Several of the parents were helping to organize the supplies that had come in and volunteering in any other capacity around the shelter they could. That was good you thought. It will give them something to focus on and helps garner feelings of responsibility for the shelter.

You look over at Skye. She is watching a small family come into the shelter with little children. There are tears streaming down her face. You walk over to her and give her a hug.

Learn more about coping during a disaster below. 

 

 

 

Passport with mountains in background - Photo by Agus Dietrich on Unsplash

Financial Planning and Documentation

     It was a long day and you have never felt so exhausted in your life. In all the activity of helping the village respond to the earthquake you didn’t have time to check your own accommodations. Now in the fading light the five of you stand in front of the collapsed hut that used to be your lodgings. There is nothing else to do but bunk down at the shelter.

     “Gage, do you still have the photocopy of my passport?” Ava asks her brother as you enter the doors of the shelter.

     “It’s right here,” Gage pulls it out of his pocket. “What about mine?”

     “Yep, got it!”

     “Wait, you guys exchanged passports?” Jackson asked incredulously.

     “No, we exchanged photocopies of our passports. In case our passports are accidentally lost or stolen while abroad, a photocopy makes it easier to get another one,” Gage explains.

     “You should always keep photocopies of important documents in case they are lost or stolen or,” Ava points around her, “in case there is a disaster and you have to evacuate. Your driver’s license, birth certificate, health and dental cards, and other important documents should be copied and stored in a safe place.”

     “I photocopy all my important documents as well as keep a scanned copy on a flash drive,” Skye said nonchalantly.

     “Huh, I should probably do that,” Jackson mused.

Learn more about financial planning and documentation below.

 

 

 

Spider in the Jungle

Hazard Hunt

     Night finally settled over the village and there was a quiet hum as families in the shelter settled down for sleep. To see a village shrouded in total darkness was a little eerie; however, the stars were shining so bright, and the jungle seemed to come alive with all sorts of sounds. Unfortunately, with the calm came the emotions that had a chance to creep. You can hear a few of the villagers crying quietly as you turn around on your cot trying to push back your own overwhelming feelings.

     Jackson heaves a big sigh as he stows his backpack on the shelf above his bed before plopping down on his cot in exhaustion.

     “It kind of feels like we are camping,” he says optimistically, playing the dim light of his flashlight around the ceiling.

     “You should remove your bag from the shelf and put it under your cot,” Gage says as he places his own bag under his temporary bed.

     “Why?” Jackson asks getting up from his cot and removing the bag.

     “We need expect aftershocks. If there is an aftershock you don’t want that bag falling on your head in the middle of the night. Most injuries and deaths in earthquakes come from things flying at and falling on people,” Gage explains. “You should also keep your shoes and flashlight close by so you can quickly grab them.

Learn more about conducting a home hazard hunt below. 

 

 

 

Old Coins - Photo by udit saptarshi on Unsplash

Preparing On A Budget

     Thankfully the night went by without incident. The sun dawned bright and beautiful. 

     “Oh man! My phone ran out of power,” Jackson exclaims in alarm. “Is the power still out?” he asks Skye, grabbing her arm in desperation.

     “Yes,” Skye simply states giving him an amused look.

     “What am I going to do now?” Jackson slumps on his cot in defeat.

     “Here, use my charger,” Ava says extending it out to him.

     “Thanks, Ava, but with the power still out how am I supposed to use it?” Jackson sighs.

     “It’s a solar charger, you don’t need to plug it in,” Ava giggles.

     Jackson shoots up excitedly and inspects it eagerly. “Wow, this is awesome! Where did you get it?”

     “Gage gave it to me for my birthday,” Ava shrugs and smiles. “It has come in handy more times than you know!”

Learn more about how to prepare on a limited budget below.