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What if That Was Me? 7 Steps to Being Ready

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

We see the photos and videos of devastation from the Lahaina, Maui wildfire, hearing the stories of people who escaped and those who did not. This, or something similar, can happen to you at your house, in your town. What if that was you? How would you escape? How would you survive until help came?

How do you prepare?

1. Sit down with your family and make an evacuation plan. How would you get out of the house if your normal exit was blocked? Where would you all meet? How would you get out of the neighborhood if a fire blocked your normal exit? How would you communicate if cell service is down? Rehearse how you would get out of the house or neighborhood.

2. Make yourself physically strong enough to run away, dig yourself out of debris, or help others.

3. Look for all the exits wherever you go. Make it a habit. You may need to use an exit behind you.

4. Briefly consider the worst. Would you hide, shelter, run, or fight? That is the framework of a plan. That plan can save your life.

5. If you had 2 minutes to leave the house, what would you take? Use a timer and figure it out. Backup your important documents. Keep them in a fireproof container or keep them together with other essentials, ready to grab and go.

6. Bring water and space blankets with you always. Keep a first aid kit in your home and vehicles. These are survival basics.

7. Get trained. Take a FEMA CERT course or FEMA online classes and take a first aid class.

The 7 Steps to Being Ready apply to all manner of emergencies and disasters. Consider the hazards in your area and areas where you visit. Following these preparation steps may make the difference between life and death.

The next time you watch the devastation of an emergency or disaster, ask yourself “What if that was me?”.

Nancy Carpenter is a FEMA CERT instructor.


Book: The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why

by Amandy Ripley

FEMA’s Online Classes:

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Jonni Hovan
Jonni Hovan

One thing we all need to learn from this tragic disaster is the fallibility of cellular service. Residents depended on the alerts in their phones, as if the towers were impenetrable: they are not. Cell towers have security designed by third graders. Lose a tower: lose it all. One article stated that the DJs from local radio stations have provided the only communication to citizens on Maui. Yet who has radios anymore? (Well, we do: we have hand crank and solar radios in our go bags: house and car). Yes, by all means grab your phone, folks. But don't forget your power pack, your standard am/fm radio, solar charger and walkie talkies. Remember, nature didn't come for us: we pu…

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