How To Be Prepared for A Natural Disaster

Keys To Remember:

  1. Have a "bug out" bag ready
  2. Two is one. One is none
  3. Have a Detailed security plan
  4. Know how you're going to find food and water
  5. Know whether to shelter-in-place or "bug out"

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Cleanup continues in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in Southeast Asia, and the body count continues to climb.

Would you know what to do when disaster strikes?

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall, and in the days that followed, America's military responded to the Gulf Coast's cry for help. Among the responders there were Bryan Hupman and Jason Bibeau.

"The first thing I saw was a lot of people that were homeless, a lot of people that were stranded," Hupman said. "We were climbing through nasty water. People didn't have food. They were starving. They were hungry."

"It was like a scenario out of a Third World War movie you might have seen. It was not what we think of as America," Bibeau said.

As devastating natural disasters increasingly become the norm and predictions of the apocalypse are a nearly annual activity, are you and your family ready for a crisis?

"'Si vis pacem para bellum.' If you want peace, prepare for war," said Bibeau.

Hupman and Bibeau teach an emergency preparedness course, telling people they do not have to build an underground bunker to be ready when disaster strikes. Their first tip is to keep a "bug out" bag in case you have to leave home, packed and ready with things such as flashlights, batteries, clothes, an emergency radio and a first-aid kit. It should have enough supplies to last for three days.

"When you need to rely on other people, it's too late," said Hupman.

They also say "two is one and one is none" when it comes to having with you need, so have a backup and a backup for the backup. One example of that is to have more than just matches to start a fire. Bibeau said it is also a good idea to bring a fire starter system or flint rock, even dryer lint, to help spark flames.

"Pretty much anything you use can and will fail eventually," he said. "If you have a backup, that failure doesn't become as critical because you have a backup. And in a true emergency scenario, things are likely to go as south as they can possibly go."

Additionally, have a detailed security plan that will answer important questions. Will you carry a gun? What will you do if people ask for some of your food? Hupman said these are questions you need to ask yourself and answer now, before an emergency arises.

"You might not have the ability to use a gun; you're not going to want to," he said. "So if you're not going to have that option, to be able to use the firearm, you can use less lethal options like the stun gun or the spray."

Next, know how you will find food and water, which becomes even more critical in an emergency. Hupman and Bibeau said it is good to keep food ready, things you can eat without having to add anything or even cook, including canned food; meals-ready-to-eat, or MREs; and emergency bars. A reusable water bottle or container and water purification tablets are also important.

"Is it a filet mignon? No, not even close, but it will provide you necessary nutrients in an emergency situation," Bibeau said.

However, being ready only takes you so far. When crisis hits, putting your plan into action can mean having to make some tough choices.

Lastly, know whether to shelter-in-place or "bug out." Hupman said it is never an easy call to make, whether to stay home or to leave. It is a decision that depends on the crisis and your family's circumstances.

"To pick up your family and move them and to remove you from your home, it's one of those things, you've got to make that call. It's your call to make," Hupman said.

However, if you have prepared yourself, it is a decision Hupman and Bibeau hope you are ready to make.

"The prepared mind will prevail," Bibeau said.

Bibeau and Hupman said these tips can apply to emergencies such as natural disasters or civil unrest or any other shortage of food and water. They also said it is a good idea to have a "40-day plan," the number that will get you past almost any type of emergency so you can get back to a normal lifestyle.


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