Two Weeks

Photo Credit: Marco Dormino (United Nations via Reuters)
A child awaits for the distribution of meals by the United Nations World Food Programme in a make-shift camp in Jacmel, Thursday, Jan. 28.

It's now been more than two weeks since the earthquake in Haiti. One thing I've noticed is that finally some of the water and supplies are getting through to help many (but still not all) of the displaced and injured people. You might assume that it took additional time to get supplies into Haiti because of a more rudimentary distribution situation. However, it is interesting to me that it also took up to two weeks (or more) for aid to get to many Katrina and Rita victims. In all three cases after two weeks there were still many who were not getting any help.

There is a lesson in this for our own preparation. It's a good idea to have at least two weeks of supplies including water, medical supplies, shelter, money, food and fuel (more would be even better). It takes time after emergencies, disasters, or economic crises for help to arrive.

In an emergency, I've always assumed that our family could just leave our area and stay with family if things were bad enough. Recently, though, I've realized that floods, earthquake scarps, pandemics, winter storms and panic all block roads. It is likely in many different scenarios that you will have to shelter-in-place and be ready to take care of yourself. Many emergency kits provide three or four days worth of supplies which just isn't enough to make it through those first two weeks during which you'll likely be without any help.

If you are just starting out, make gathering two-weeks worth of supplies your first priority. If you've been working on your home storage supply for a while, take time to inventory and make sure you have the supplies on hand to help you navigate through the first few weeks of any type of emergency. It would be even better to be prepared for a long haul with a three-month supply, a water supply, a financial reserve and some longer-term storage so that you can take care of your own family without relying on outside aid. Being well prepared will also put you in a position to better help others and allow those who are less prepared to utilize any aid available.

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