In emergency medicine, the first 60 minutes directly following a traumatic injury is known as the Golden Hour. This is the time period in which a patient’s chances for survival are greatest when proper care is administered. Surviving both the critical event of a natural disaster and the chaos thereafter is not dissimilar. How you prepare for a natural disaster and what you do in the critical minutes, hours and days following it, may mean the difference between living, and to put it bluntly, becoming a statistic. Immediately following a natural disaster, what should you do in your Golden Hour?
One of the first things you need to do after a disaster is make sure everyone in your group is safe. Are there medical needs to take care of? Obviously, that is top priority. You should have a first aid kit easily accessible.
Evaluate your resources
Gather together all the things you have available to use. You need to know what you’ve got to work with in order to make it until things are more stable again. What foods do you have available or can you get?
What about water? Do you have at least a gallon per person per day that you expect to be without your regular water supply? In general, the water you’ve stockpiled is for drinking, cooking and oral hygiene. If you can get water from other sources (taps, rainwater, etc.) you should purify it, probably by boiling. Be conservative in your water usage because after a few days, you will want to have some sort of bath.
Soon after the disaster, you’ll need to cook and eat any food that is perishable in the refrigerator. The freezer food will last longer, as long as you keep the freezer door closed most of the time. Hopefully, you’ve got a source for heating food and water. After you’ve used up the perishable food from your refrigerator and freezer, you can start using your eFoods Direct meals.
Assess the damage
Another important early step is to assess the damage to the structure you’re in and the surrounding area. You might need to make repairs if you can. But if it isn’t safe, get out! Grab your bug-out bags and go! If you can drive away, drive. If the roads are blocked (in a major emergency, they probably will be), walking may be your only alternative. Having bug-out bags that are backpacks is the best way to be able to carry what you need. Check the personal backpacks that eFoods Direct sells — they are very good. I have one for each member of my family.
If there are trees down or other major damage, you might not be able to remove them until your insurance company has sent out an adjuster to inspect. Usually, the insurance company will allow emergency repairs to avoid further damage, but check your homeowner’s policy to be sure of what it allows. Of course, you’ll want to take photographs to document the damage as soon as possible.
Beware of insects, vermin and wildlife
In a natural disaster, local wildlife will be disrupted and may be found where it normally wouldn’t be. Be on the lookout for snakes and rodents in particular. You will want to choose a spot away from your shelter to put any spoiled food.
Be careful of any standing water because they are breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which can carry disease. Hopefully, you have insect repellent in your supplies, because you will want it.
These steps will get you through the first rough days. Next, we’ll take a look at what to expect when local help starts to arrive.