By Sid Danczak

The damages of Hurricane Katrina were publicized more than previous natural disasters. The American public had a close-up view of real modern suffering. This hurricane was the third wor

A disaster doesn't have to be gigantic to require survival mentality. And in some cases, mentality may be your only gear.

Survival mentality requires teamwork with one singular goal - to live. Your family is the team. An example is a basic household fire. The National Fire Protection Agency states: "More than two of every five (43%) people injured (but not killed) in home fires were trying to fight the fire or rescue someone when they were injured."

In other words, good intentions became harmful because of no plan and/or lack of accurate survival skills. Therefore the most logical move is to get the family together to formulate an evacuation plan of the home. This will take some time to create and then practice. Later enlarge the plan to include the separation of the family across town.

Do not expect everyone to get excited about getting ready for emergencies. More likely you will run into time excuses, groans, and complacency. Remember only 38% of the American public believe there even is cause to prepare. So these same statistics probably exist within your family - maybe worse - you might be the only one leading this show. You will be have to be the coordinator.

Very often, people consider preparation in terms of drastic events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or various forms of warfare. Try to counteract this complacency with logic and facts. Point out that even a simple event, natural or man-made, can cause power to go out, stores to close, roads to block up, etc.

However, the best way to prove the necessity of preparedness is to have your family members come to that conclusion themselves.

Pose the question: "So what disasters could happen in our town or city that may require a plan and preparation supplies? " The kids will have fun with this. Alien attacks may even come up. That's fine - all you want is to spark true interest in planning ahead in case of such an occurrence.

Remember that the family can witness terrible things, such as injury or even death to family, pets, and neighbors. There can be looting and criminal behavior. You and your family may become the only ones you can trust.

How will you identify misdirected thinking and emotional triggers? Open up discussions up during standard family gatherings, like dinner or car rides. Try these conversation starters.

· What disasters could occur in our area?

· What do you think is going to happen when the disaster strikes?

· How could disasters in the news been handled differently?

· What if you're in your pajamas? Or, are in the shower?

· How do you think the neighbors will react?

· How might you have to help the neighbors?

· Should you help the neighbors?

· What will you do if you can't get to the pets?

· What about the goldfish? Do we take him?

· What will you do if one of the family members is missing, hurt, or killed?

· What possessions do you plan to take if we evacuate?

· If we are stuck in the house with no power, what activities can we do?

· What should we do if we cannot share our supplies? How would you say no?

One warning: don't freak yourself or your family by covering these topics all at once. Part of the survival mentality you are after is simple family bonding and brainstorming. This group thinking can bring up things that otherwise would not be thought of.

For instance, a little one who wants to save the fish or hamster at the last minute could waste precious moments at a critical moment. And a person of any age can take too long to grab a precious photo or memento. Many people die or are injured by going back for a pet or item. By talking, solutions for these scenarios can be planned, if possible. If not, like the fish, the reality of loss has been addressed.

Good Samaritans often cause the death of themselves, along with whomever they were trying to save because of a lack of correct information. For instance did you know that fast moving water that is only 5-6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet? Without this knowledge both persons can be swept away and drown.

Take the lead and go to the American Red Cross and FEMA websites for real facts of what to do in different scenarios. If you show interest and effort, most likely your family will follow along. Encourage everyone to take part in an escape plan. Find out everyone's present idea of a path out. Then identify correct and incorrect thinking and adjust what needs to be adjusted.

Once a plan is made, practice it. Plan a couple of unannounced drills. Rehearsing will overcome the panic and fear that no one can predict.

Unifying the family is crucial to surviving a disaster. And it will strengthen your family unit. So have some fun with this serious topic, and enjoy the family bonding.

I was surprised to find out that almost two-thirds of the population are not prepared for an emergency, let alone a disaster. And I was among this two-thirds. This struck a nervous chord. I am not just passionate on changing this for myself but others as well. The human population is at risk if these statistics remain the same.



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