Tag Archives: children

ABC of Emergency Preparedness

One way of engaging with emergency preparedness is to create an ABC. It’s a fun activity for adults and kids alike to get thinking about the important topic of how to be better prepared for an emergency or disaster, what that entails and means. Here is one such ABC of emergency preparedness, focusing on household preparedness and family in a general setting. Examples are drawn internationally because the same fundamental preparedness principles apply irrespective of where in the world you are. I hope what follows will inspire you to come up with your own version of your ‘personal’ ABC of Emergency Preparedness.   [this post is also accessed by bit.ly/preparednessABC]

A  for ATTITUDE  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

No matter what kind of emergency, staying calm and keeping a positive attitude is essential. Do not panic. Get your breathing under control to clear your mind so that you can assess the situation appropriately.

Connected to attitude are beliefs and here drawing on faith for strength is useful irrespective of exactly what kind of ideology you follow. In addition, check out the post on how to achieve realistic confidence in the face of crisis.


B  for BE BETTER PREPARED  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

That means being PRO-ACTIVE rather than just re-active. Planning ahead, getting equipped and informed is your best bet. Preparedness means you are likely to better manage in an emergency or disaster. Up your chances by upping your capacities (kit, supplies, tools etc.) and capabilities (knowledge, training, skills etc).


C  for COMMUNICATE | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness is a ‘group sport’ so to be able to communicate effectively before, during and after a crisis is vital. The word ‘preparedness’ implies being better prepared BEFORE something happens. Planning your communication is as important as communicating during your planning stage: it sets everything up and keeps everything going. That also means when you make your household emergency plan, check your assumptions: don’t just think you know but find out, update and verify, talk to reliable people in your communities as well as emergency planning professionals such as via your Local Resilience Forum. In addition, keep in mind that communication is more than just giving and following advice or instructions and staying in touch. It’s also about signalling for help, coordinating emergency plans beyond immediate family to other groups of people, locating the missing or lost, organising support and new supply chains etc. Some questions to explore include where do you find the right information? How and what do you communicate to your loved ones when you’re setting up your plan? What does communication look like during a crisis and in the aftermath in how to receive help or in how to assist? How can you communicate effectively under potentially extreme situations? What will you need to be more self-reliant?


D   for DEVICES | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Tech is great – when it works. Problem is it often doesn’t during a real crisis or disaster situation. No power, limited battery life, network failures… in short, you need additional kit as well as independent low-tech solutions. Good examples here are solar chargers for your gadgets, hard copies of local maps as well as your ID’s and insurance documents, pocket guides for first aid and survival etc.


E    for EVACUATION  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Do you stay or go? In some situations the best option is safe evacuation, getting out of harm’s way quickly, returning once the all clear has been given by authorities. Evacuation can happen for many reasons and can be temporary, lasting just a few minutes or hours or expand to more medium or even long term shelter-in-place situations away from your home. Most evacuations are self-evacuations when you get right down to it.  So what exactly does safe self-evacuation look like?


F  for  FIRST AID | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

First aid is an essential life skill and the more training and knowledge you have the better off you are in an emergency situation. It’s that simple. However, it’s no good knowing a lot and then not having the tools and resources when and where you need them so a well-stocked first aid kit or medical kit is an absolute must, kitted to your abilities and needs.


G  for GO-BAG | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

All essentials packed in one sturdy grab bag ready to go at any time, that’s a GoBag. Find out how to build your own emergency kit and check out our preparedness hub for even more free resources.


H for HYGIENE  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Hygiene contributes to health. Absence or insufficient hygiene in the aftermath of a disaster can have very serious consequences. Water purification is an important element as is travel hygiene, i.e. during an evacuation and shelter-in-place situation.


I  for  IDENTIFICATION | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Your GoBag must contain paper copies of documents that can prove your identity and address as a minimum. Additional documents and USB backups of i.e. personal photos, contacts list, insurance, inventory accounts etc. are highly recommended.


J  for JUNK  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Everything but the kitchen sink, it might come in useful. No! Leave unnecessary items behind. Make the right choices in what to take with you and how to secure the belongings you leave behind. Your GoBag must be comprehensive enough to last you 72 hours yet must be light enough that you can carry it comfortable for extended periods of time. Loading up your car with tons of stuff does not mean you are better prepared. Less is more. Get the right kit; don’t simply make do. Your life may depend on it. And whatever you do, NEVER leave your pets behind!


K  for KEEP FOCUSED | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Emergencies or disaster can be confusing and scary. Understanding fear is important as it can be your best ally. What do you need to help you keep focused and maintain a positive attitude? Short-term energy food and drinks help as well as frequent morale boost. What works for you and how will you build this into your emergency plan to be better prepared?


L  for LOCAL MAPS | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Having accurate information about your local environment is key: roads, bridges, rivers, lakes, woods, towns etc. Don’t rely on tech alone which may stop functioning in an emergency or disaster. Know several ways to get to safe shelter locations. Also, knowing about your flood and other risks based on local maps is crucial.


M  for MEALS-READY-TO-EAT aka MRE  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

If your car runs out of fuel, it stops and if YOU run out of fuel so will you. Maintaining energy levels during a crisis means that you can continue doing what you need to be doing. The last thing you want to worry is about cooking your next decent meal. MRE’s have been used by the military for many years and there are many reasons why they work so well for emergency preparedness: delicious, nutritious, long-shelf life, space and cost effective. So, check it out and also see our survival food page. What’s your favourite menu?


N  for NOURISHMENT | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Quality emergency and survival food is one aspect but there is also mental and emotional nourishment. As mentioned earlier, maintaining attitude and the ability to keep focus is crucial to being better prepared for emergencies. Once the initial urgent phase has passed there needs to be time to process, coming to terms with events and finding silver linings, giving and finding support on all levels: physical, mental and emotional – perhaps sometimes using ‘unusual’ tools  😉   ….


O  for ORGANISE | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Without ‘organising’ you are toast in an emergency or disaster situation, it’s that simple. Get cracking, it’s easy and even fun to do so. Make emergency preparedness plans for work and private life:  a personal emergency plan, a family emergency plan, a community emergency plan, a fire safety plan, an evacuation plan, a shelter-in-place plan, a travel emergency plan ….any and all that make sense and are needed in your particular sets of circumstances. To start, head over to our emergency preparedness hub with lots of free resources and downloads.


P  for PETS | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Leave no one behind in an emergency or disaster and this also goes for your pets or animals. We have a special page for Emergency Preparedness with Pets so head right over.


Q  for QUESTIONS   | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Never stop asking questions about emergency planning and emergency preparedness. Update and upgrade your knowledge, organise and be better prepared. Be selective in the resources you trust – there is a lot of information out there and not everything is good and valid. Local is massively important so a dig through the history of your area for clues of past major incidents is a good idea as is finding out information from your Local Resilience Forum and other trustworthy specialists.


R for RELOCATION POINT | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Where will you go if you have to evacuate? Not just an assembly point but an alternative safe location in a more medium-term or perhaps longer term where you can find shelter and support. What do you know about evacuation shelters near where you live or work? Are there any and how well equipped are they?What are your self-reliance options? Check out the post on mass evacuation.


S  for SAFETY | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Always think safety first. Don’t take unnecessary risks. This is especially important in a family or small group settings that have to rely on all members. Stay alert during emergencies and always be aware of your surroundings, watching out for potential dangers. Know the difference between risk and hazards. What are likely sources of risks and hazards and how do you plan to deal with them? It’s all part of your emergency plan.


T  for TRAVEL  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Travel may become necessary before or in the aftermath of a disaster. Know your relocation point and how you will get there. Have your GoBag and other supplies ready. Be organised and be better prepared, have a positive attitude and keep focused. As part of your emergency preparedness plans, create checklists of items, streamline necessities and avoid junk. If you travel by car, always carry a Car Emergency Kit in addition to your other supplies.


U  for UNSURE | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Unsure about something? Doubt is excellent for it represents an open door, an opportunity to find out the right information from the right sources. Investigate, never stop asking questions when it comes to emergency preparedness.  Continue to upgrade and update your knowledge every day. Preparedness becomes simply part of who you are.


V  for VARIOUS NEEDS | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Children at different ages have different needs from young adults, the middle aged or seniors so you will have to think carefully what capacities and capabilities your emergency preparedness has to cover under which circumstances. It’s not as daunting as it sounds, however. There is already a lot you know and much you have and can do. Visit our preparedness hub for resources and downloads and get started.


W  for WEATHER | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Being weather aware means you will see it coming and can plan and act accordingly. Early warning systems are pretty good these days for major weather events depending on where in the world you are. Simply keeping an eye on the news or your favourite weather app will keep you in the loop. In addition, include diverse weather (not just severe storms) in your safe evacuation scenarios for it’s an entirely different matter in midsummer heat, deep winter snow freeze or during heavy rains or storms.


X   for Xerox copy | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Vital information such as IDs, insurance, inventories, accounts etc. should always have one or several hard copies in safe places as well as digital backups.


Y  for YOU CAN DO THIS!  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

If you feel you are becoming overwhelmed remind yourself that you are capable of doing extraordinary things.  Focus on the next minute, the next five, the next hour and just keep going.  Most importantly BE PREPARED! Join the race where everyone wins:

    … and finally …..    

Z  for ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Yes, you heard right! The joke goes that if you are better prepared for a ‘zombie apocalypse’ then you are pretty much prepared for anything.

source: https://www.cdc.gov/images/campaigns/emergency/zombies2_300x250.jpg

If it takes that kind of Hollywood fantasy to create interest in emergency preparedness then why not? Let’s go for it. After all, this particular notion even exercises serious scientists who study how disease spreads. Take a look yourself and have a go at ‘Zombietown’ a disease dynamics simulation by physicists Alexander Alemi, Matthew Bierbaum, Christopher Myers and James Sethna of Cornell University and  take a look at Leicester University or get stuck in with the CDC:

I hope you enjoyed this ABC of Emergency Preparedness. Happy Easter and good luck with your personal plans for being better prepared. 


For more Resilience Blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For more on Emergency+Disaster Preparedness head over to our FREE resources at the Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!

 thank you for sharing!


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Resilience and the importance of Role Models in providing road maps

My last post briefly looked at how older people – I like the term ‘elders’ rather than the usual descriptor ‘the elderly – are not simply a passive risk group but should be viewed and treated as active agents and potential assets in Emergency Preparedness. I mentioned how their decades-long experiences can contribute to being able to find and build on optimism and today I’d like to expand on this by looking at the importance of role models in resilience. Traditionally, role models tend to be seen as older people one looks up (often relatives) to but of course this is only a limited view. Nowadays it is easier than ever to find positive role models of all ages and backgrounds across a many diverse areas.

Everybody needs resilient, positive role models – not just children

Last January when this blog started, I introduced you to Emmy Werner and Ruth Smith who ran one of the first longitudinal resilience studies (see the Resilience – Nature or Nurture post ). They reported what has been confirmed many times since:

resilient individuals have role models whose beliefs, attitudes and behaviours inspire them

Research in teens repeatedly shows that those with role models have a better attitude towards school, better grades and attendance, greater maturity and better mental health with less depression and anxiety (Southwick et al, 2006) . Surely it’s no stretch to claim the same is true for adults of all ages. From where I stand, I see it as only natural that we can all benefit from encouragement from mentors and role models whose behaviour – words and action – motivate and inspire us to continue to learn, adapt and grow. Where children initially learn right and wrong as a foundations of morality, as teens and adults we continue to hone our skills to control impulses, delay gratification and find as well as create healing for ourselves and others.

Your Role Models – who inspires you and why?

some role modelsHow about you? Where do you draw your role models from?

You’ll laugh when I tell you that, personally, I can think back to a long string of personal heroes beginning with – unsurprisingly for my era – Wonder Woman. Yes – ‘oh dear’ indeed! I am no closer to being like her now than back then nor would I ever want to be – and not simply because of  body image and wardrobe issues.

However, Wonder Woman along with many of my real world heroes (i.e. in no particular order Henry Dunant, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Shunmyo Masuno, May Sarton, Malala Yousafzai) continue to inspire me to connect, never lose interest, courage and the ability to question but also accept.

Role Models do not have to be older, wiser or perfect

Role models do not have to be perfect – actually quite the opposite holds, I believe. Everyone has their own unique strengths and weaknesses which, unlike flawless fiction super heroes, make them authentic and human and therefore much more valuable in that they are real and accessible. Have you heard of the Well Child Awards and the Pride of Britain Awards? Well, you probably have but for me, as a Swiss, this was certainly new. What a brilliant way to honour and highlight how everyday people do astonishing deeds to inspire us all, irrespective of age or background.

How role modelling works – more than just imitation

Imagination and imitation are powerful forms of learning and shape human behaviour. Throughout our lives we learn by imitating the patterns of thought and behaviour of those around us. Often we are completely unaware that we are doing such observational learning. It is not taught. Rather we simply pick it up merely by being exposed to others and the need to belong and fit in.

Matters are more complex, however, for example Bandura’s social learning theory (1977, 1986) holds that modelling involves more than simply mimicry, imitation or observational learning. He suggested that each person is able to integrate thoughts, values, behaviours and emotional reactions that resemble those of a role model but that it could be adapted to fit the particular personality and circumstances of the learner. Suppose, for example, that you know someone who always seems to handle complex and stressful situations with relative ease. You admire this resilient person and wonder how she or he does it. You intentionally begin to observe their behaviour over time and may notice patterns:

  • actively reaching out to others for help, support and assistance
  • adjusting personal pace to build in additional rest and recharge periods
  • upping diet with extra nutrition and taking additional exercise

This observed pattern you can now turn into a rule or model that you can modify for yourself for use during a variety of stressful situations. Doing so and keeping sensitive to what works best for you, you will develop and enhance your own personal resilience.

 What are the most effective ways of learning from Role Models?

Most people benefit from role models without being fully aware of the processes involved. You don’t need to make it into a science yourself but I believe that by taking a more active and conscious role will have benefits in that you learn quicker, can adapt and modify faster to what works best for you.

Like any new skill you start, begin by breaking it into smaller, more manageable chunks until you become better and more fluid at it:

  • observe the role model behaviour in a variety of settings over time
  • practise yourself in between observations for example by first imagining you possess a desired behaviour, attitude and personality style and then by role play (real life enactment is eventually required for successful imitation)
  • get feedback from someone you trust and that has a good eye. Such a person can point out similarities and differences between your behaviour and the behaviour you are attempting to model and may provide suggestion
  • patience! Don’t give up. Changing your behaviour to fall in line with what you consciously desire rather being driven on automatic takes perseverance

That it’s worth the effort is clear for you will gain immensely in realistic self-assurance and suffer considerably less from the inevitable anxieties that life throws us all.

Curiosity is key – acts of observing, listening, questioning, wondering and modelling. When you stay curious with an open mind and heart about your and other people’s worlds and our responses to shared experiences, then we can truly become role models for each another, building understanding and resilience for all of us.

Wishing you resilience building week full of illuminating observations.


thank you for sharing and helping raise awareness for Emergency Preparedness and Resilience!



  • -Southwick, S.M., Morgan, C.A., Vythilingam, M. & Charney, D. S. (2006). Mentors enhance resilience in at-risk children and adolescents. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 26 (4), 577-584.
  • Bandura, A. (1977) Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall
  • Bandura, A. (1986) Social foundations of thought and action: a social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall

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Preparedness for Power Cuts, Brownouts and Blackouts

updated 09/10/2017

Power failures are common in the wake of storms (BBC) and disasters, man-made or natural; for example floods (Telegraph) and drought (Brazil dries up and blacks out, 2015, Bloomberg) even UK mini heatwaves (Ashbourne News Telegraph). Also see South Australia’s Blackout explained (09/2016 black start)

Power outages can also occur without warning because of faults or accidents.

You may need to shelter-in-place and wait it out or you may have to evacuate (Feb 2015: Liverpool One John Lewis evacuated after power cut as restaurants unable to serve food, Liverpool Echo)


Power cuts are predicted to become more frequent, not only causing damage to the economy ($180 billion in the USA) but also affect transport, security and health (Lincoln University). Concerns and discussions on the UK energy safety gap are ongoing (Guardian).

2003 – a memorable year for spectacular power cuts

Looking back, 2003 was a particularly eventful year. In the US and Canada 55 million people were affected during the Great Northeast Blackout, 14th August 2003:   Fortunately, most power cuts last only minutes, but even such short durations can have a substantial impact on you personally as well as business. The London Blackout (28 August 2003) lasted just 34 minutes (BBC) during which  

        • 400 calls were taken by the London Fire Brigade
        • 100 rescues were made
        • all main rail services stopped in London and the South East
        • 60% of London Underground was affected

 If not stranded in lifts or underground, thousands of Londoners and visitors either took to the rain soaked streets or found shelter in candle lit pubs and restaurants. Outages not only happen in summer. They happen every day (DNO live twitter list) and can affect everyone. Most spectacularly and recently again London:


What is a Brownout? What to do during a Brownout

source: http://m.epandl.com/0_0_0_0_295_273_csupload_46955312.jpg?u=3094454775Brownouts, the opposite of a power surge, refer to a drop in voltage that can last for minutes or hours. Brownouts  commonly occur either by accident or intentional, for example, when used for emergency load reduction to avert a full blown a blackout.     Common signs of a brownout are      

                • flickering lights
                • rapid switching on/off of appliances
                • sudden computer and internet failure

 Usually harmless, brownouts nevertheless can damage your equipment so when you notice rapidly flickering lights, act immediately and unplug your computers, routers, TV, devices being charged, all appliances etc. During a Brownout, as soon as you notice fluctuations (i.e. when the lights start flickering badly)  

            • switch off and unplug computers, TVs, printers, routers, mobile phones, tablets or any other devices that are plugged in and/or charging
            • reduce your power consumption: switch off anything you do not need
            • be ready for a blackout in case your supply fails to stabilise source: http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/71610000/jpg/_71610198_71610193.jpg


Preparedness for a Power Cut – follow these 10 top tips

Know your supplier and how to contact them. Suppliers often host a live power outage map and provide information and support also on twitter. The new emergency number for power cuts is 105 see guidance from your supplier; i.e. UK Power Networks’ Domestic and Business

          • make a checklist/map of all your electrical items that need turning OFF in case of a power cut
          • if you use crucial medical equipment requiring electricity, put yourself on your suppliers priority register
          • alternative communications: keep a plug-in cord telephone for emergencies that does not need electricity; stock spare batteries and power packs for mobile devices
          • alternative power: ranges from power generators to UPS devices (~ 1 hour), batteries and hand-crank or solar operated devices; more see generators


What to do during a Power Cut – NEW! CALL 105*

Is it just you? Check your fuse box to see if any have tripped – there could be a problem with your property’s wiring and you may need to call an electrician. If your neighbor is also affected, then call your local distribution company to find out if it’s a network problem. Normally, power cuts are locally or regionally based

          • switch OFF all appliances and equipment that may have been in use before the interrupt
          • leave one light switched on to know when the power is restored
          • secure your property; bells and alarms may not work during the outage (manual warning)


What to do when Power is restored

          • check all your equipment and appliances
          • only gradually turn your equipment and appliances back on, keeping an eye on possible fluctuations
          • check and and reset all timer switches; i.e. water heating, gas or oil central heating systems, electric clocks

Additional useful resources to understand what happens, the consequences of power cuts and what you must plan and prepare for and how to prepare for and cope with power outages:

      • list of major power outages wiki
      • electric safety HSE
      • will your landline work during a power cut? Ofcom

 Be prepared, not scared. Have a good week.

Monika | @MonikaAlMufti 

This page is also accessed by bit.ly/powercutUK   thank you for sharing and helping raise awareness for Emergency Preparedness!


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Resilience – nature or nurture?

bamboo-in-the-wind-sid-solomonPhew! While there have been plenty of man-made ‘disasters’ of one sort or another this week at least there have been no major natural disasters and so I take leisure this Friday to delve a little deeper into the topic of ‘resilience’ as is one of the aims of this blog.

You might remember some of the main points I mentioned that play an important role in resilience: self-awareness, self-regulation, optimism, mental agility, character strengths, connections (read previous post).

You probably read through their descriptions and thought that it makes a lot of intuitive sense. In the context of the recent UK floods I then briefly discussed some aspects of optimism and I hope that if you personally were affected you did find some silver lining in it all. Before I pick upon the next strand however, one important question comes to mind. How can you tell that you are or will be resilient? To what extent is resilience innate? To what extent is resilience learnt? Let me begin by telling you a story.

Michael and Mary (a true resilience story)

… were born in the same place at the same time: 1955, the tropical island of Kauai, a paradise with lush rain forests, glorious mountains and pristine beaches at the northwest end of the Hawaiian Islands. Michael, a premature baby, spent his first three weeks in hospital, separated from his teenage mother. His father was absent with the military until Michael was two. By his eight birthday Michael had three younger siblings, his parents were divorced and his mother had left the island, breaking all family ties. Then there is the story of another child. Mary was born into poverty. Her father was an unskilled farm worker and her mother suffered from mental illness. Mary’s life between the ages of five and ten was one of repeated physical and emotional abuse, punctuated by her mother’s several hospitalisations.

Two children with the odds stacked against them.

And yet, by their eighteenth birthday both Michael and Mary were popular at school, possessed solid moral values and were optimistic about their futures.

Michael and Mary’s story is true although their names have been altered to protect their privacy. It is part of one of the first landmark studies into resilience by Emmy Werner and Ruth Smith who, a long time ago in 1955, began tracking 698 children from their pre-natal months to beyond their thirtieth birthday. Of course, a tremendous amount of research has taken place since. Importantly also, several ways of measuring and predicting resilience have emerged.

Now, before you rush off to measure your own resilience please note that it is a highly complex concept and no single measure is ever perfect. At best it can give an indication – a start, a baseline from where you can begin to explore resilience for yourself. It all begins with self-awareness – and a look at the ‘Resilience Scale’ website (Wagnild and Young) is one way of checking this out, free of charge. On their navigation bar look for ‘Test your Resilience’ and have a go. And in case you’d like to read more about Werner and Smith’s work, check out their book “Overcoming the Odds: High Risk Children from Birth to Adulthood“(1992)

Have a great weekend!


Thank you for sharing, raising awareness for Resilience and Emergency Preparedness.

For more EVAQ8 blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For FREE resources head over to our Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!

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