Disaster Planning

In the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster the question of adequate planning for your family and also your airpark should be a topic for discussion at the dinner table or your association’s next meeting (maybe even a special session).

With more than a million people dislocated, thousands and thousands of homes destroyed, perhaps thousands of lives lost, it is time to make sure your own disaster plan is in order.

It really doesn’t make any difference what part of the country you are living it. If you aren’t susceptible to hurricanes, perhaps tornados rip through your area. Do you live near a river? How about a flood? Don’t forget blizzards and forest fires! Is your area subject to high winds or heavy rains? How close is your home or hangar to the neighbors’ structures. Can a fire in one of them spread to others on the airpark? There could be earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami or other widespread disasters we might not even consider – until they strike.

Obviously, none of us expects or foresees natural or even manmade disasters, but they do happen and it seems like the last few years has seen more of them than normal.

When the disaster strikes you and your family may not all be in the same place. If a fire whips through the region and you have to evacuate, where will you meet up? Don’t count on your phones or even cell phones providing you the ability to connect and get back together. The wind may have knocked out the power or blown over the cell phone towers and service is severely impacted.

Here are some helpful ideas gleaned from various internet sites:

  • Agree on a site and alternate where you will gather.
  • Agree on which out-of-area friend or relative you will all contact.
  • Survival is paramount; material things can be replaced.
  • Have a survival kit on hand in your home or office.
  • Remember, a disaster plan is never a fixed finished document – it evolves and gets better as time goes by. Therefore, it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time you do it – the important thing is to get started on it!
  • Be systematic in your plan – don’t try to outguess Nature and plan for a flood, a hurricane, a fire, etc.
  • Agree who is going to call the shots and in what order!
  • List individual responsibilities ahead of time, and assign specific tasks to each.
  • Set clear priorities among your activities.
  • Keep copies of important papers off site.
  • Make sure everyone has a copy of your disaster plan, which includes the home phone numbers of the contacts you’ll be making as soon as possible.

Of course, these are all ideas for major disasters. Fortunately, disasters like the Gulf Coast hurricane are extremely rare. You are much more likely to face a fire in your home or a blizzard that won’t allow you to leave the residence.

Those are situations you need to plan for too!

Make sure there are adequate supplies of non-perishable food and water on hand. (Remember, the date on most canned food and water is a “sell-by” date and doesn’t mean the food has gone bad the day after that date.)

Do you have a good first-aid kit available? Do you know what to do in case of fire, or severe injuries? A first-aid manual certainly would help.

Dialing 9-1-1 for emergencies is great … providing the phones are working. However, knowing the physical location of the nearing fire or police station and hospital certainly can be a help in times of crisis.

When you check into a hotel do you look at the emergency exit plan located somewhere in the room? Probably you should do that more consistently!

There’s no one plan that works for everyone or every airpark. The important thing is that you and your family and neighbors prepare for emergencies. When you are prepared the stress is reduced and that allows more people to do the right things at the right times.

Prepare your plan and make sure everyone knows about it!

If you’ve got a matrix for a personal disaster plan and are willing to share it, you can do so by responding to this article with your plan.