Preparing for Emergencies
Granite Staters face big and small emergencies of many kinds, among them floods, blizzards, ice storms, tornadoes, house fires, and a variety of public health threats, including pandemics, foodborne illnesses, and outbreaks of tick-or insect- borne disease.
Preparation reduces fear.
Studies suggest that getting timely, accurate information about the nature of a threat and making plans to deal with it reduces people's fear and increases their resiliency during and after an emergency.
Well-prepared individuals and families in turn lessen the burden on emergency responders, medical workers, utility crews, and many others whose work involves providing direct services in times of crisis.
Expect discrepancies, ambiguity, and change in crisis communications
As you browse the emergency-information sites we've organized on these pages, you may discover that credible information sources differ, both in the factual details and in the guidance they offer.
Particularly during emerging crises, you may find the information on a trusted site keeps changing. And while you may be searching for reassuring certainty, you may find the language of crisis communication ambiguous. Here's help for understanding why
Information sources don't always agree
Some reasons why you may find factual differences in the information provided by even the most authoritative emergency-information sources:
- Experts from different technical backgrounds look at disaster planning from different perspectives and may take different factors into account when offering guidance.
- Each emergency situation unfolds uniquely. Conditions surrounding the latest flood, ice storm, or disease outbreak will differ from those of the last one, in terms of the nature of the new threat, new scientific information about it, its potential for harm, the community resources available, and the most appropriate response strategies.
Information from credible information sources may change daily
Expect it! Leading up to and during most emergencies, information evolves continuously as the nature of the threat changes and new scientific and surveillance data emerges.
Information from some authoritative sources seems ambiguous.
With good reason. By their nature, emergencies emerge. Their information base never becomes absolute and final.
Good risk communicators offer the best, most complete information about an emerging threat as they know and say, "We don't know," when facts remain unclear.
But crisis communicators also may intentionally use "conditional" language peppered with words such as probably, perhaps, until now, our best understanding. Such ambiguity encourages people to stay open to a changing information landscape.
You might choose to use information discrepancies, a frequently changing information base, and factual ambiguity as springboards to think more deeply and broadly about your household emergency plans. Some specific steps that can help you think and plan:
- Ask about emergency plans at your children's school and at your workplace. Ask administrators for help resolving conflicts that might arise between the two plans.
- Consult local authorities such as building inspectors and health officers about community supports available in times of natural disasters or health emergencies.
- If you have medical concerns, talk with your health-care providers about how to prepare for and cope during/after emergencies.
- Make sure someone in your household has emergency first-aid and CPR training. In crisis situations, local emergency services may be delayed or unavailable.
- Discuss with extended family members and close friends ways you can plan cooperatively and support each other during and after emergency.
- Stay tuned to local news and weather as an emergency situation unfolds. Balance what you hear and see with what you've learned and planned for.