So…the ground just stopped shaking. You thought it would never stop–it seemed like an hour, but it was only a few minutes. Some of your windows are broken and the power is out The floor is sloped at an odd angle, and it’s hard to stand up. Pictures and wall hangings lie shattered on the floor. One look outside tells you the neighbor’s house has collapsed and falling trees have brought powerlines down. After the roaring earthquake, the silence is stunning…
…Now people are coming out of their houses. Some are crying or hysterical; others just look dazed. All are stunned by what happened, and no one seems to know what to do.
Where do you start?
During stressful times, you can respond most appropriately if you know your priorities:
- Take care of your family and your home
- Take care of emergencies in the neighborhood
- Render emergency first aid as necessary.
- THEN — Call in to the ARES group or authorities, report your status and follow instructions.
Have a Family Response/Communications Plan
Your response during a disaster is largely dictated by your planning and preparation BEFORE the disaster. The result of your work should be a written emergency plan that you have discussed and written with the help of your spouse or family. Within this plan should be a communications plan so your family knows how to get in touch with each other when phones and internet may not be working.
There are hundreds of pages on the Internet with resources to help you with your plan–the following resources are from the American Red Cross and FEMA:
- Preparing for Disaster
- Your Family Disaster Plan
- Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit
- Food and Water in an Emergency – FEMA
- Food and Water in an Emergency – Red Cross
- Emergency Preparedness Checklist
- Helping Children Cope With a Disaster
- Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors
- Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and other Special Needs
- Emergency Prep for People and their Pets
(Note: For the sake of expediency, the above list was shamelessly ripped from the Clallam County ARES website.)
Your ARES/RACES emergency response plan:
Now that your family emergency plan is complete (or at least started,) you have another plan to write:
As an ARES member, you should have your own ARES/RACES response plan. Just start by listing the type of responses you could be called for, and think about what equipment you’ll need, how you’ll carry it, and how you’ll deploy it (i.e. HF antennas.)
Since a disaster could mean no phones or Internet, your response plan should be printed on paper and organized in a three-ring binder with all of the reference material you might need such as radio and repeater frequencies, instructions for programming your radio, maps, important phone numbers and Internet addresses, names and call signs of other team members, checklists, etc. This will be your “Go-Book,” and should accompany you any time you are called for an extended response.
Here is a good place to start: Download the ARES Field Resource Manual (PDF-92 pgs, free).