Thursday, June 13, 2013

Family preparedness for disasters or other emergencies

Book review by Wade Breur

Harrison, Kathy. (2008). Just in Case. North Adams: Story Publishing. 236 pages. Available at book stores for $10.36

Have you ever wondered how you would handle emergencies that can occur to anyone? What would you do if you did not have power at your home for twenty-four hours? What about 2 weeks?

In the book Just in Case, the author explores emergency situations that a common family may find themselves in. This book provides easy to practice ways to prepare yourself and your family for many if not all of the common emergencies that people may be faced with. The author takes two fictional families and follows how these families would do in the event that power was out for nearly a month as what occurred with Hurricane Katrina.

 The author has applied lessons from events like these in her own life and for nearly twenty years now, she has taken seriously her ability to be able to provide for her family in the event of emergency. She feels like she is able to be self sufficient in the event that power and water are no longer provided by local city and county entities. Rationale The reason why this book meets the requirements for this assignment is that it provides realistic information on how individuals and families can prepare for emergencies from the power outage to fire safety and response.

 The preparation for many of these scenarios is covered in two parts. The first part describes how to organize, acquire and rotate food and emergency systems. The next part specifically covers personal preparedness and preparedness with children. Finally, the question of how to effectively become prepared is answered in an easy to understand way in how to prepare your home and family to handle a crisis.

 The OAR Method 

 Have you ever wondered where to start when it comes to doing your own emergency planning? I believe the author has come up with a fairly basic principle that is titled O.A.R. which stands for Organize, Acquire, and Rotate (Harrison, 2008).

 Organize means that you simply organize what you have by taking an inventory of your supplies from food storage and those things that will provide you with some sort of use in an emergency situation. During this step of the process, the author stresses the need to organize your storage areas such as closets so that you are able to maximize the most space you can to store the things you may need to keep you and your family alive when the time arises. Notice that I use the word “when” instead of “if” when describing the possibility of an emergency to occur. The author did not go into great detail regarding the difference between “if” versus “when”, however when reading this book, it caused me to ponder the difference between these words. As a person uses the term “if” this happens to me, then I will be able to do this or react a certain way. The problem with using this term is that “if” keeps in the back of my mind that there is possibility that something could happen, but it is not as likely to occur. By using the term “when” this happens to me, it creates a resolve in my mind that it is going to occur and I am going to be prepared to handle whatever the situation produces. “When then” thinking provides me a way not only be physically prepared with the resources to survive and an emergency, but also to have the mental status needed to survive as well.

 The “A” in the OAR system means to acquire what you determine is necessary for that part of personal preparation you are working on. During the organizing phase of your preparedness, the author says for you to take note of what you need by beginning a preparedness notebook. Notice the author said notebook and not electronic spreadsheet for this step of preparation. One thing that is certain is that technology can and will fail during a crisis, but your preparedness notebook as long as it is stored with your emergency supplies that will be grabbed will be there for you to reference. The author enters into great detail about how to properly acquire the necessary items for your specific situation. What I got out of this section that will be most useful to me and my situation is that I need to be acquiring what I use on a daily basis when it comes to food storage. Too often, people will go out and buy wheat and certain grains that are not used on a daily or even a monthly basis. They expect they will be able to do something with them in the event of an emergency or crisis where they now need to use these items such as grain and the person has now history or know how on how to do this. This is a big mistake that I will be sure not to fall victim to.

 The “R” in the OAR system stands for rotate. Rotation applies to not only the food stores that you are building up, but also your emergency items. How often do you think to check out the supplies you stored last year or two years ago in your 48 hour grab bags? Are the batteries still good and what kind of shape are those granola bars you placed in them? Once again, this is another plug for that preparedness notebook. The notebook is a great way to track the dates and rotation schedule for your own food and emergency supplies and helps you feel like you are in control and manage this preparedness idea.

The last section of the book contains recopies and how to on preparing your food storage which does make for dry reading, it does though provide some good reference information that can be used in your time of need. Parts 2-4 of this book go into detail on how to handle and prepare for specific types of emergencies and some of the best ways to prepare for them.

 To give you an idea regarding each of these areas covered it is best to refer to the following topics covered: 

  • Personal preparedness 
  •  Home systems 
  •  Communications 
  •  Preparedness with children 
  •  Pets 
  •  Preparing your car 
  •  Evacuation 
  •  Loss of power 
  •  Fire in a home 
  •  Natural disasters 
  •  Toxic hazards 
  •  Pandemic 
  •  Terrorism 
  •  Food ideas and preparation 


 I truly felt it was the author’s intention to provide not only very detailed information regarding what to do in specific emergency situations, but how to become prepared for them. This was done in a way that I felt that even in my situation, I can accomplish a preparedness level that is not only attainable in small bites, but it also makes sense. I am not by any means a person who obsesses over being prepared for every emergency situation. However, I do believe that by obtaining a level of preparedness that I know I have resources for at this time helps me to feel better about my family situation as well as rest better at night. Finally, I do recommend this book to anyone who is serious about increasing their personal level of preparedness.

 Harrison, K. (2008). Just in Case. North Adams, MA: Story Publishing

No comments: