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Emergency Preparedness

Floods, snowstorms, power failures, earthquakes... disasters happen, and when they do, many of us expect the government to swoop in and save us. And generally, they do - eventually. But it's up to us as individuals to prepare ourselves, and be able to take care of ourselves, too.

For those of us in urban and suburban areas, "someone else" usually solves the big problems. If it snows, the city sends out plows and salters. If they don't do it quickly enough, we get angry. If the power goes out, the electric company sends out crews. If we're stuck without lights and TV for more than an hour or two, we get angry.

We've gotten so used to things being taken care of, that many of us have nearly no idea what we'd do if the power went out for several days, or if we couldn't take the car to the grocery store. It's easy to say that authorities should work quickly to help people affected by disasters - and yes, they should - but the fact is that sometimes "as fast as possible" isn't fast enough. So, every household should have emergency preparedness supplies on hand, and know what to do in an emergency.

How many of us have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio or floodlight on hand? Probably not that many, so how do we expect to hear emergency broadcasts, or attract help in the dark? How many of us have a 3-day emergency evacuation kit packed and ready to go? According to a 2012 survey by the Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation, more than half of us don't. The survey also revealed that most people have a false sense of security, and believe they could survive an average of sixteen days in their homes if there was a disaster, despite having less than a 3-day supply of water and non-perishable food on hand.

In short, people aren't prepared. What exactly should you have? The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers great resources for just about every kind of disaster, at Read it, bookmark it, and act on it. Be prepared. Because we can't expect the authorities to work instant miracles.

Now, we want to know what you think. Are you prepared for a disaster, or have you experienced an emergency yourself?