How prepared are you to rebound after a full blown natural disaster with catastrophic consequences?

I wasn’t prepared when it happened to me.  I left for work on a rainy day and came home to find a landslide had gone through my house.  The fire department arrived and “red tagged” the house, indicating that the structure was condemned.  They allowed us to grab a few things. We rescued and slowly rebuilt our lives.

Are you prepared for the tornado that rips through your home town?  Or the mudslide that sweeps away everything you own?  Or the fire, flood or earthquake that drives you from your home for days or even weeks?     Although these disasters are different, they have some things in common.  They are all encompassing –they affect you physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  They come fast, unexpectedly and you slip into survival mode.

Each and every one of us will face major setbacks.  The question is not so much “if” it will happen, but how well you will handle it.  The good news is that you can train yourself to respond quickly in an emergency, on automatic pilot, and provide yourself a solid support structure to help you rebound as quickly as possible.


Make a checklist of what you might need for a variety of time frames or in different scenarios.  Numerous examples are available from the Red Cross, FEMA and other online sites.  We’re talking the basics.  Medicine.  First Aid.  Food.  Water.  Shelter.  Clothes.  Games. Tools.  Computer.  Communication.  Finances.  Fuel.  Power. Skills to barter.

At the very least, pack a couple emergency To-Go bags.   We never know when disaster will strike or where you will be so it’s a good idea to have one at home, one at work and one in each of your vehicles.  The bags you grab as you escape should include a first aid kit, any medications needed by you, your family, your pets; food and water, critical items such as your computer, cell phones, contacts, money, batteries, and flashlights.

If you have enough time, you can think through what you will need for more than an overnight stay.  How will you prepare food?  How much water can you carry?  Do you have a life straw to purify water once you run out?  What will you sleep on?  Where will you go?  Who can you stay with?  What clothes will you need?  What tools and protective gear might prove helpful?  What about credit cards?  How will you pay the bills if you are gone for a while?  Do you have enough fuel?

Start thinking through “What If “scenarios and do some “If – Then” Planning.  This is a great exercise to do with your family, friends and community.  What would you need for a few hours, 3 weeks, or to rebuild?  Do you have an escape route?  Transportation?  What if someone or something is injured?  Do you have a first aid kit?  Do you know how to use it?  In some cases, you’ll need to stabilize a situation before you can move.  Can you call for help?  How can you get to safety quickly? What are you going to take with you?

Start making your lists and gathering those things long before it’s an emergency.  Even if you don’t have to leave your home, you may need this kind of preparation if services are not available for a time.  Fuel, heat, stoves, light, power and water services can all be disrupted.  Most of our lives are connected to power in some way.  What will you do without it?   Can you generate it?

Practice new skills you may need so that you can react automatically if a situation presents itself.  Take advantage of classes to learn first aid and CPR or how to use tools.


Prepare for longer situations.   Once the food, water and cash run out, what do you do?  Being prepared for long term situations gives you confidence and helps you bounce back more quickly.  Do things to be more resilient. Fear and a sense of devastating loss accompany disasters.  Being ready and able to face challenges dissipates fear.  Being ready to jump in and help others helps you as well.


Have a supportive routine that you can re-establish as quickly as possible after a disaster.  Routine, daily actions help us keep our sanity.  The following list is recommended to prevent depression during a crisis : exercise, eat well, sleep 7-9 hours, find something to laugh at every day, talk to someone you can share your thoughts with, learn something new, be in beauty or meditate, and be of service to someone else.

Learn a skill that you can trade for necessities.  Learn carpentry, something manual.  Plan your finances around diversification — from where you store your records to multiple sources of income.

Get physically fit, manage your weight.  Eliminate bad habits so they won’t be in your way.  You may need your body to sustain you through some touch terrain.  Join a hiking group or a sporting team.

Get active in your community.  You want to know the people in your immediate area so you feel comfortable calling them in difficult times.  Know what your local government has in place.  Know how you can be of help to others.   Take part in survival and other community preparedness days.

Do things with your family.  Play problem solving games; schedule times when you don’t have anything electric with you.  Play games that have a winner and a loser.  Resilience develops in the face of failure.  Have fun learning survival skills together.  Camping is fun and teaches important skills at the same time.

Finally, focus on more than your Outer Game.  Become aware of your Inner Game – listen to yourself.  What are you saying to yourself?  Develop positive self-talk now so it’s in place when you need it.  Learn to meditate; do centered prayer.  And if you are at all religious, connect with a church or any center.  In our disaster, it proved to be one of our most important resources.

Cultivate the inner keys to bouncing back:  faith, resilience, purpose, persistence and your relationship with your true self. 

If you are proactive now and embrace positive change as above, you can do more than survive a disaster, you can bounce back and thrive.  To explore more, claim a free copy of “Survivor’s Guide: 12 Tips to Gain Inner Peace” at

About:  Susan Sherayko has been the executive in charge of production for “Home and Family,” a daily television show that airs on Hallmark Channel, for several years.  She is also a mindset coach and author, “Rainbows Over Ruins,” in which she shares her journey that began after a landslide destroyed her home.

Posted in