Lessons from Irma: Time for Disaster Preparedness!

by Deborah Thornton on Sep 14, 2017 5:30:00 AM

The unprecedented hurricanes in Texas and Florida and the earthquake in Mexico are heart wrenching. The Workspot team has many friends - some of whom are also Workspot customers - and family in these areas where Mother Nature wreaked havoc and people lost their lives. It’s a somber time as we reflect on so much loss, and our hearts are with those who are trying to recover.

Because Workspot is in the VDI business you may think this blog is about business continuity and enterprise disaster recovery measures. It's not. Workspot offers BC/DR capabilities with our insanely simple VDI solutions, but we can talk with you about that another time when it makes sense.  

What's on my mind right now is way more important - the well-being of family and friends. These events are a stark reminder for me of the things I have not done to prepare for a disaster, and I know others are thinking about this too. Stop the procrastination! In Silicon Valley we’re surrounded by dozens of faults. Thanks to Hollywood and earthquake disaster films, most have heard of the San Andreas fault, but it’s actually the Hayward fault that causes most concern among scientists; unlike San Andreas, it’s the most populated fault in the world, running right through Oakland, Fremont and Berkeley, with San Francisco and San Jose in close proximity. A large earthquake is predicted within the next 30 years. My parents and my sister live right on top of the Cascadia subduction zone in the Pacific Northwest - a fault that some experts say could produce the worst earthquake in North America. Yikes!

So you would think we’d all be better prepared. I am not – are you? All these nagging little questions, such as “How long can I store water?”, “Do I need to add bleach to water for long term storage?”, “Where should I place water/food/medicine/first aid supplies?” keep me from taking action – oh and I’m so busy with super important things I just can’t get to it. Really?

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A Simple Plan

So I decided to write down a plan (which is not particularly sophisticated, but it has the basics), share it with you for inspiration, and then take one step at a time. Here’s my plan: Each weekend, I’ll add to my disaster preparedness kit.  Here’s my list, and I’ve also included some answers to some of those nagging little questions.  Maybe it will help you too, or maybe you have better ideas - bring 'em on! 

Right now  

Top priority: Donate any amount of money you can spare to help with Harvey, Irma and Mexico recovery. It doesn’t matter how much. Here’s some suggestions, just in case it makes it easier for you:

  1. Harvey: Charity Navigator List via USA Today
  2. Irma: Global Giving is a crowdfunding site that promises to use all donations specifically for Irma, and they have a 4 star Charity Navigator rating.
  3. Mexico earthquake: Global Giving fund for Mexico relief.

By all means give to your favorite organizations.  Just give. 

Weekend 1

You know all those backpacks you’ve collected from various industry events over the years? You probably have a favorite. Set that one aside for everyday use and go gather the rest of them. These are your new emergency first aid and prescription medicine kits. You decide how many you need based on how big your house/apartment/property is.

  1. Meds: Throw some of your essential medications in each backpack; throw in some vitamins for good measure; oh and a roll of TP.
  2. First Aid +: Go buy a basic first aid kit for each backpack (or place your orders online). Buy bar soap and toothpaste to throw in also. Order those little mini flashlights and put one in each backpack, and place one flashlight by your bed.
  3. Placement: Place each backpack around your house/property (and put one in your car too!)

Weekend 2 

Get your water supply in order. 1 gallon per person per day for at least 3 days. That’s the standard, but I will store more than that.  I’m going to put some in a closet, in the garage, and in my goat shed (store in a dark cool place ideally). And keep one of those 3 gallon containers in your car! Wash the containers with water and 1 teaspoon non-scented chlorine bleach. Then fill it up and store it. In 6 months if it’s unused, water your plants and repeat. I was trying to figure out how I would move a huge container of water, so I looked for a container with wheels - cool! Something like this would be good to store larger amounts. I’d love to know if others have suggestions for a water container that has wheels. When you refill your water containers, check expiration dates on your first aid kits and medications at the same time. Just set a reminder on your calendar for a weekend day every 6 months to get this handled.

Weekend 3

 You need a 3 day supply of non-perishable food – minimum.  Right now I have maybe 3 cans of diced tomatoes and a can of cannellini beans.  That’s just not going to cut it. Here’s a very basic list of what you need:

  • Pet food!
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • More cannellini beans (canned veggies, canned meats (ugh) or whatever)
  • Salt
  • Powdered or condensed milk
  • Cereal
  • Grains (in whole grain form they have a reeeally long shelf life)
  • Beef jerky (I try to be a vegetarian but in a pinch I’m going to eat this)
  • Honey (doesn’t spoil!)

I could live on this just fine (well maybe not the pet food?)! Don’t forget a can opener and matches.

Weekend 4

Now that you’ve got the basics handled for survival, you can add a few things: 

  • Cast iron skillet in case you need to cook over a fire (I know how that sounds, but seriously, what if the power is out for a long time?)
  • Waterproof matches
  • Hand-cranked radio
  • Bleach

Procrastinators unite!

I'm a master procrastinator about things like this. No more. We can do this! I’ve already gathered my old tradeshow backpacks and bags and sent my donations. Since I’ll be gone this weekend I can use the time to order supplies online, and they’ll be waiting for me when I get home – thanks Jet and Amazon Prime!

Lastly, keep those thoughts, prayers and cash donations going for all those affected by these terrible disasters.

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This post was written by Deborah Thornton