By Landra Muhammad
Think back to the Japanese tsunami in 2011. I don’t know if you were like me or not, but I was watching an elderly woman on CNN trying to outrun the enormous wave that was chasing her. I found myself yelling at the television for her to run faster, and then seeing her disappear as she was captured by the waves awesome power. Now, take a trip even further back to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I remember I had been weeping in my sleep due to dreams that I felt powerless to help people that were homeless, hungry and hot.
Unfortunately, it sometimes takes the example of these devastating tragedies to act as a catalyst to change the behavior of others.
Coming from a household that always had ‘extra’ this and that, I never realized that there was such a thing as Disaster Preparedness. If the lights ever went out, which they did during storms, there were flashlights in the kitchen windowsill and a stack of batteries and candles in the drawer just right of the bread basket. There was a battery operated pocket radio in my parent’s room and also a portable TV in the basement. It wasn’t until I came into the Nation of Islam that I saw what was called a Survival Kit List. I remember being full of excitement as I showed it to my mother, and watching her reaction as she skimmed through it. I was a tad bit disappointed with her as she, unimpressed, shrugged her shoulders and told me that we already had all these items. Looking back, I now realize that my family was in the minority of people that both understood, and acted upon the importance of preparedness.
The Bible is full of stories of preparedness; from famine preparations in the 41st chapter of Genesis to the five wise and five foolish virgins spoken of in the book of Matthew. Not surprisingly, the Holy Quran, also speaks of preparedness in Surah 3:49 where it advises its readers of “what you should eat and what to store in our houses.” What does surprise me however, is even with the witnessing of these books of scripture being unveiled right before our very eyes, why we aren’t stepping up our pace of preparedness?
I have been given many reasons as to why people don’t have go-bags or ‘extra’ household supplies lined up in the event that they are needed, and I am most often told that Disaster Preparedness is just too overwhelming. Well, depending on your outlook, I can understand how it can be viewed this way, but doesn’t have to be! Just start out by thinking of your daily needs. What do you normally do or use during the course of a day? Do you eat? Well then, that means that you have to store some extra water and food in your home along with a method to cook or warm it. Your cooking method can be something as basic as Sterno or even a more elaborate item like a Butane stove. If the electricity goes out, that can cause a trickle-down effect, especially if the power outage is widespread. So to maintain light in your home, prep with a few inexpensive flashlights and or candles. And don’t forget some extra batteries. Also remember that no electricity in your community essentially means no working gas pumps or ATM’s. So, try to always keep your gas tank at least ¾ full and a few extra dollars on hand.
Something that you might not have thought of is how to stay warm or cool, depending on the season. Everyone is not comfortable with having a kerosene heater their home, so secure some heavy blankets for warmth, and believe it or not, if you place aluminum foil on your windows, it will reflect the Sun away and keep you home cooler. You can do this for one room in your home and use it as your cool room. Because heat rises, stay on a higher floor if you are trying to warm up, and a lower lever floor, like the basement in you are trying to cool down.
Nowadays, you can pick up a little pocket radio at you local dollar store, and it will keep you informed of any breaking news, weather and instructions related to the situation in which you are involved. Lastly, to maintain good communications with your friends and family, always keep a battery-free landline phone that plugs directly into the phone outlet. As well as an extra charged cell phone battery or even an emergency phone on hand. These phones along with an old school hand written phone book will keep the lines of communication open, pending the phones lines are still working. In the event that the phones lines are signaling busy, try to send a text message, they are more likely to get through than a phone call. And remember to check up on the seniors and disabled in your family and neighborhood, perhaps if they have one of these easiest cell phones for seniors, you’ll also want to make sure you frequently call them to ensure their safety daily. Disasters can be quite frightening, and you being prepared can make the situation much less stressful for you and those around you. Being prepared is as simple as remembering these tips and preparing a survival kit, or purchasing an emergency kit from 72hours. You may never use it, but it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.
Oh yeah … Don’t forget the story of the Grasshopper and the Ant. Which one are YOU?
Contact Landra Muhammad for more information or to receive a monthly newsletter on Disaster Preparedness and Survival at AuntieLandra@aol.com, also visit her online at www.shelfreliance.com/Landra