This week I presented a seminar on emergency preparedness and 72 hour emergency kits to an inner city hispanic church congregation. Their women's auxiliary had asked me to help their group learn how to prepare for potential disasters. As we started, several people in the audience shared their secure survivor stories. Given that most of the participants had grown up in Latin America, all but one person in the audience had experienced some type of man-made or natural disaster at some point in their lives.
One story that stood out for me was told by a 40-something year old mother of three who had grown up in a Central American country but has been living here in the United States and raising her family for the last several years. When she was a teenage girl, her family had been warned that they needed to prepare for an emergency by having food, water and other basics on hand to last for several days. As a teenager, she had paid little attention to the warnings and found them annoying. Luckily her parents heeded the warnings and did prepare by storing some basic emergency supplies for survival.
Without warning, her family awoke one day to serious political violence in their city. They were forced to stay in their home for over a week as people were being shot in the streets by one faction or another. She knew people who had not prepared for an emergency and had thus quickly run out of food. When the violence extended beyond just a few days, these families were forced to send family members out to try and find food. Some of those who went to get food never came back because they were caught in the streets, shot, and killed.
She and her family remained safe inside their home until the violence had subsided. They were able to safely shelter-in-place because they were prepared in advance of any indication that there was about to be a life-threatening emergency Their was no need to convince this mother of three to be prepared with basic emergency supplies in case of a disaster. She was there at my class to learn how to improve upon the supplies she already had rather than to be persuaded to prepare for an emergency.
I find that those who have been through some kind severe emergency or disaster have the need to be prepared pressed into their minds for the rest of their lives. This is true whether they were well prepared at the time or they had to suffer in some manner because of lack of preparation. I also find that sharing such stories can help to motivate those who have yet to experience a disaster or severe emergency to become prepared.
These stories can also share key insight into how to best prepare for certain kinds of disasters. In this case, having basic supplies (such as extra food) to shelter-in-place for several days was key to the survival of this lady's family.
Do you have a secure survivor story? If so, please share it with us by commenting or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. How did you survive a disaster or emergency and what did you learn from the experience that might help others?
Every Life Secure
An Emergency Preparedness Blog helping to make "Every Life Secure" in any emergency or disaster... at home, work, school, or on-the-go