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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Third Half - Shelter

This is the third half of the blog on shelter.

Being a Refugee
Most people will agree becoming a refugee is a very poor idea, but what happens when your home has been destroyed by fire, tornado, war, or another reason.

Where do you go? Who do you stay with?

Can you leave your home? Is it safe to move?

Can you stay on your property? Is it safe to stay?

How about a local hotel or motel? What about neighbors, family, or close friends?

Do they know you might show up? What happens if they were affected by the disaster?

How about out-of-state family and friends? Did you preposition some supplies such as shoes and clothing?

Can you even leave the state? What about your job?

Lastly, are there Red Cross or other shelters available?

In a large disaster, organized shelters may not be available for the first three days after a disaster. Are you able to hold on that long?

Many questions for you and your family to answer. Below are some of my family's answers, my wife and I came up with.

Routes To and From Home
Using PACE, we pre-identified four routes to and from our home. We identified hazards that needed to be avoided and anticipated hazards that might occur during a specific event like a earthquake, chemical spill, or traffic accident.

This hit home twice. Once when there was a fire in the area. The fire trucks blocked one of the routes keeping us from getting home. We had to pull out the local street maps to find a different way home.

There wasn't one. Yep, we didn't have a map.

Now, we keep a local street map, state maps from our state and surrounding states, and a national atlas in our cars.

Some people would say to buy new maps every time they come out. I have found; if we get new maps whenever we find free state maps and buy new local maps when the old maps get really outdated, we are adequately prepared.

We also drive our alternate routes, every once in awhile, to see what is going on in the area of the route. With this stimulus package, there may be a lot of roadwork, so make sure you check your routes to and from home.

The second time, we had trouble, was when we had severe local storms with some flooding. The flooding wrecked one culvert, closing the road. Temporarily, flooded another road, and trees were blown down closing another road.

We decided to stay home. If we had needed to leave, we could have walked out or used the chain saw to cut our way clear, with the neighbors' help.

Staying with Family or Friends
As an extended family, we have talked about having to evacuate. We have agreed to put up with each other for a few days in an emergency. I would suggest pre-position supplies such as clothing to decrease the need to pack or go back home to get things. I figure a footlocker, 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 2 feet tall, would hold enough clothes and shoes for a few days, without washing, for a family of four.

I have been using open-head steel drums as storage containers for extra blankets and extra clothing, after a mouse got into my house, for out-of-state friends that might show up with nothing but the clothes on their back.

I find almost new clothes at swap meets, garage sales, and relief society stores. I stock new underwear because most people will reject used panties or briefs. I also buy extra coats, hats, gloves, and sweaters in earth tones because of my threat analysis.

Make sure you check with expected guest for allergies to wool and ask the ladies to send you slightly used bras.

Staying in an Emergency Shelter
I have done some reading and had a little experience staying in a medium-sized camp with a group of people, so here are my opinions.

First, get your back up against a wall and find several escape routes out of the area. I say this because being up against a wall gives you one less route for trouble to approach. The several escape routes will allow you and your family to leave, quickly if needed.

Remember, fires happen at shelters, too.

You have probably heard about "Safety in Numbers," so form an impromptu group, if you need to. You can do this by getting like minded families to sleep together in the same area. This allows responsible teens and adults to watch each other's stuff and younger family members.

Safety in numbers also includes moving around and visiting others. Always move in groups of two and three, four at the maximum. Remember, children never go to the bathroom without an adult or older teen.

Women and men should also always travel together. Yes, for protection but also to give the guys a "softer" look. Which looks more threatening: Four guys walking together or two guys and two gals? Yes, you can imagine a particular skin color.

About that visiting, make an effort to talk to other people. You want to find out what they know about the situation. Confirm those rumors, too.

Third, understand that the staff at the shelter are people. Treat them with kindness and respect. Talk to them, make a connection with them, and if possible give them a hand. Also understand the shelter staff may have different priorities then you and your family have.

Lastly, find a happy medium between being too far from the bathrooms and too close to the bathrooms. They begin to smell after a few days. Oh, make sure to try and get your own roll of toilet paper.


Wikipedia - Safety in Numbers

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