Standing Tall in the Event of a Disaster
By Alan L. Olsen, CPA, MBA (tax)
Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen and Co., LLP
When communities face natural disasters, leaders are always needed. Leading victim search efforts, calming nerves and distributing food and supplies to disaster victims are all vital tasks in the hours after a disaster strikes. In the event of a disaster, are you prepared to help your community?
The following tips will help you prepare to stand tall in your community in the event of a disaster:
1. Have a Plan. Public schools plan and practice drills to prepare for disasters, so why do many of us neglect this important preparation at our jobs or in our homes? Does your business or home have an emergency plan? When designing your plan consider where disaster victims will meet, how all employees or family members will be accounted for, and who will lead the search efforts if needed.
2. Obtain Emergency Supplies. Do you have a flashlight or first aid supplies in your office or home? Are the supplies easily accessible and in an area that others are aware of? If possible, keep a flashlight in every room so that you will be prepared if the power shuts off.
3. Keep a store of food. In the event of a disaster, there is a possibility that food shipments may be postponed to local grocery stores. Individuals will be in need of basic necessities. Excess food and water will help to eliminate fears if there is ever a food shortage. Keeping granola bars and water bottles close by in office or home cupboards will provide a store of food if ever needed.
4. Know where gas meters are. In the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster, be aware of where gas meters are in case there is a leak. If you smell natural gas you will need to turn your gas meter off to prevent further injury. Be prepared and keep a wrench close to your gas meter. 
5. Organize a support group. Help teach others in your community prepare for natural disasters by organizing a support group. You can start within your office or home by educating those around you on disaster preparation. If a disaster were to strike, others would be prepared as well.
6. Check local communities for disaster relief programs. Many communities have programs already in place to educate people about disaster preparedness. Many of these programs even train and certify you in disaster response skills. A great resource is www.ready.gov which includes preparation information and links to state and local government programs.
Disaster preparation will benefit those in your community. Making a plan and sharing it with co-workers and family members will help you and those around you be prepared if a natural disaster strikes.