The Importance of Personal Safety and Early Warning Systems

Disasters may seem overwhelming when considering the sheer complexity of the situation. Questions of, where are my loved ones? Where is the danger? Where do we go? What are we going to do? These questions are terrifying to think about, but there are ways in which we can prepare on an individual level, as well as using community systems to help safeguard citizens. Emergency kits, plans, strategies, and training are vital ways to keep your home prepared for an eventual overwhelming situation. These measures coupled with strong Early Warning Systems (EWS) and Emergency Social Services (ESS) are paramount in keeping communities safe and saving lives.


Personal Preparedness

Preparing to keep your home safe may seem like a daunting and expensive task, but there are simple cost effective things households can do to bolster preparedness. Allocate a spot in your home, and stock it with some cheap essentials such as water, canned food, candles, matches, a fire extinguisher, blankets, and spare clothes. There should be enough food and water for each household member for at least three days. This is not an exhaustive list, but a good start in the right direction for protecting your family. 
In addition to an emergency kit, sit down with your loved ones and develop an emergency plan. The plan does not need to be specific to every emergency but should encompass an “all-hazard approach” style, so everyone can be familiar with their responsibilities. This may look like this; If it is safe to do so, we will meet in the living room, otherwise, we will meet on the road outside the front of the house. Sally will grab the emergency kit, tom will call 911, Jason will grab the dog, etc. It should be noted that everyone’s safety is the highest priority and nobody needs to put themselves at risk to accomplish their task. 
Plans come together with preparation, strong strategies, and specific training. There are numerous online courses you, your friends, and your family can take to help educate and strengthen personal preparedness plans. A few to consider would be Basic First Aid, Fire Extinguisher Basics, and Emergency Planning. These courses may help strengthen your individual resilience and prepare you for the unexpected. 


Early Warning Signs and Emergency Social Services in your Community

Early warning systems are systems put in place by municipal, provincial/state, and federal governments. These systems are designed to notify the public before a disastrous event were to occur. Examples of the would-be air-raid sirens used by Great Britain during World War Two, tornado warnings like the ones used in Joplin MO in 2011, and technology-based Emergency Warning systems used by governments and agencies such as the Alberta Emergency Management Association. Part of being prepared as an individual is to familiarize yourself with the systems, understand which ones apply to you, know how they work, and understand the danger they are advising you of. 
ESS is a system of support provided by governments and NGOs to assist displaced people following a disaster. These services include reception centers, lodging, warm-up/cool-down stations, and survivor supports. ESS centers are usually set up in safe, neighboring communities in schools, arenas, and gyms to remove individuals from danger and provide basic need supports. To strengthen your family emergency preparedness plans, learn more about these programs specific to your region and know where to go before trouble strikes. 
These are not conclusive findings, more of starting point suggestions to increase resilience in your home. To keep your loved ones safe, obtain an emergency kit, create an emergency plan, spend time developing education and training, know how EWSs are used and operated in your community, and get in touch with your community leaders to learn more about your specific ESS program. Mitigation and preparedness are among the best ways to save human life and protect the safety of your loved ones.