SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND HOW IT AFFECT US.

Sustainable development – development that meets the needs of the present without affecting the future generations from sustaining theirs, basically sustainable development is about the big picture of how the social, cultural, economic, political and environmental factors fit together, it’s about improving the life of everyone regardless of the part of this world they reside and we must achieve this together through the understanding the needs of today and tomorrow’s world.

Dr. Klaus Topper states that Sustainable Development is the peace policy of the future.

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In order to shape the world in a sustainable fashion we need to identify our sustainable development goals and outline where they came from by undertaking this  exercise we have a unique opportunity to come together and plan for our future, in a holistic manner seriously considering our social, economic and environment matters and their contributions to our life.

At a world population of 7.2 billion (2013) and rapidly increasing since the industrial revolution, this is quickly becoming a very complicated world, causing a great gap between the world’s rich and poor along with extreme environmental challenges in our attempt to satisfy the needs of all. Collectively we have the power to bring about real changes and determine which species survive and how many will be extinct in years to come, the type air we breathe or the type of water we drink and how we use and reuse our resources are in the hands of every human alive. We are now a part of a world that is extremely connected to our economies, manufacturing, financing, ideas, advertising, human resources and our individual development.

We are now living in an unprecedented situation and as the world population and environmental conditions continue to change, a number of countries worldwide are stuck in the 1980’s addressing the demand of only one third of their population alive, let’s look a at Bangledesh as a prime example this country has a population of 157 million people an increase of 90 million in 44 years, and with the number of births rapidly exceeding deaths we can just imagine the population growth in the next 10 years. The question is can Bangledesh withstand such an increase in a sustainable way and in a manner where all of the population have access to  clean drinking water, clean air to breath, access to education, transport, jobs, health care, proper living condition and healthy food the short answer is no.

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Young boy walking in piles of garbage in Bangledesh

Source: http://www.old.endignorance.org/get-informed/spotlights/rural-and-urban-poverty- bangladesh

Many countries around the world like Bangledesh are crippled with poverty, poor infrastructure, solid waste woes, pollution, inadequate transport and job opportunities simply because this country could not keep up with the population increases, and so the same picture could be painted for the entire world the long and short is that the world cannot keep up with the population growth and advancement, taking on unbelievable stress causing climate changes and global warming hence the reasoning behind the importance of sustainable development, we now have to accept that the world’s population is growing, address issues and decide collectively what we could do to ensure that we can survive 100 years from now.

Young boy walking in piles of garbage in India

Source: http://smilingsmilers.blogspot.com/2009/12/children-around-world-suffer-from.html

At the United Nations Millennium Summit in New York world leaders came together to adopt a declaration by committing their nations to a new global partnership where they would be accountable for their action and lack thereof to reduce extreme poverty and setting a number of time bound targets, these goals are most commonly referred to as the “Millennium Development Goals”. The eight millennium Development Goals as outlined in the image below form what you can call is a blueprint agreed to by all the countries in the world and prominent development institutions in an attempt to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.

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As a result of this collective agreement presently worldwide there are 700 million fewer people living in poverty, 90% of boys and girls worldwide are getting a primary school education, there is still a lot of work still to be done, with 1.2 billion people still living in extreme poverty and as a result of the financial crisis millions of people are still unemployed worldwide the more active we get at achieving sustainable development goals the more we build momentum to seriously address this situation in an integrated and problem solving way.

But the biggest problem of all is that most often the world’s population have no idea about sustainable development and what it means along are not concerned with the changes in the environment or how it would further affect their already poor living conditions. So what do we need to achieve sustainable development a shared vision communicated to all of the world’s population that their input matters, an all inclusive framework for action and clearly defined goals and targets, there must be a series of awareness campaigns lead my governments and NGO to get collective partnership by all of the world’s stakeholders.

Sustainable Development is the masterful balance of meeting our own needs without jeopardizing future generations’ ability to do the same.

WHY THE OCEAN MATTERS?

The ocean is critically important to life on Earth accounting for 97% of the Earth’s water and playing an essential role in sustaining life on the planet.  The ocean covers approximately 70% of the Earth’s surface, and is home to a vast number of the Earth’s living creatures, not to mention that the ocean is a vital part of the water cycle that supplies rain to crops, forest and provides drinking water for our survival.

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But most importantly the ocean contributes 50-85% of the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere that are generated from the tiny ocean plants called phytoplankton living near the water surface.  As we all know plants photosynthesize, meaning they use sunlight and carbon dioxide to make food.  Oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis and provides food and other vital resources in which humans depend upon.

Worth noting is that the role of the ocean is far reached, because it is so vast and deep the ocean absorbs much of the heat and light that comes from the sun.  The ocean’s average depth is 13,000 feet with a maximum depth of 36,198 feet. Continuously distributing heat, carbon, oxygen, nutrients and water throughout the planet through the process of absorption and retention, slowly releasing and redistributing heat, the ocean also acts as a sink that aids in mitigating global warming. The current in the ocean together with atmospheric forces are also constantly at work causing the warm and cold water to more in complex patterns that control how the heat from the sun gets redistributed around the planet. This redistribution of heat in the upper ocean causes large changes in the global atmospheric circulation, which causes changes in the weather. Basically the ocean is the support system of this planet and it is in danger as a result of human inconsiderate development.

  • Refer to previous post – Carbon Cycle to read about the Ocean acting as as sink in mitigating global warming as it removes carbon from the atmosphere and bury it deep in the ocean.

The overall health of the ocean according to National Geographic matters because water returns to the ocean for renewal and purification to support life on earth, it also means a beautiful coast and vibrant ocean wildlife, but more so it supplies clean air for us to breathe, the food we consume and water we drink, if the ocean is polluted and unhealthy so are we.

quotescover-JPG-26So why do we continue to pollute the ocean? This is in part the result of industrialization and rapid advancement but more so because we are of the view that the ocean resources are infinite, and that human beings are entitled to plunder and pollute the natural world in the name of our so call progress in recent years and all the years to come, it will become increasingly and abundantly clear that pollution, burning of fossil fuels, and over-fishing could potentially destroy the resources we depend on, and the complex web of life that sustains us.

Little do we know the ocean plays a significantly important role in the overall well-being of all living things. The ocean provides millions of jobs, did you know that ocean based transport account for 98% of our commerce between nations.

According to International Maritime Organization, over one million seafarers work on approximately 50,000 merchant ships which trade internationally, generating over US$380 billion in freight rates or about 5% of the world’s economy.

Cruise Lines International Association reported that the cruise line industry also reported passengers in 2008 spent $19 billion directly and $40 billion indirectly and hires 357,000 employees who earns $16 billion in salaries and wages and according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization there are 45 million fishers and fish farmers combined in the world with a production of 140 million tonnes annually this included 90 million of capture fisheries and 50 million tonnes in aquaculture.  Can I stress the importance of the ocean anymore?

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The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization expressed concerns that within the next couple of years the physiology of fish will be adversely impacted because of the rapidly increasing temperature oxygen  transport to their tissue will be hampered.  I am yet to mention the impact of marine species are experiencing a major decline in some cases of 90% loses and heading to extinction due mainly to human activities.

In closing there are potential for renewable energy power generation from ocean waves, current and thermal energy, tidal stream and river hydro-kinetic technologies, but are yet to be explored and proven. We must know that failing to protect the ocean and its resources will have adverse consequences, consequences that we are not prepared for even though our sustainability depends on the continuous equilibrium of the ocean and its species.

Recycling…. The Modern Day Self Regulation

The effects of landfills has caused increased challenges of Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM) and made it one of the most pressing environmental issue at a local, national, regional and international level, MSWM is a very costly and complex process usually under the guidance of the local governments who may sometimes lack the expertise, tools and manpower necessary to meet targets and implement national strategies. T.V. Sivanandan of The Hindu states that effective MSWM requires an ongoing commitment from central government, adequate budget allowances and a highly motivated workforce.

solid waste

In the Caribbean and Latin America over the last decade a significant increase in landfills has been reported. Land filling is usually the main treatment for municipal solid waste (MSW), mainly because it’s cost effective and accommodates all types of waste, but is far more potent than any other method because of its adverse environmental impact, which includes methane gas emission, pollution of groundwater and surface waters and leachate that represents one of the main sources of environmental problems linked to land filling waste not to mention taking up valuable space.

The Ground Water Foundation claims that the waste generated in a country is closely linked to its economic activities, the wealthier an economy the more waste is produced.  Waste management have become a critical issue in the Caribbean because of limited land mass and decreasing resources along with a rapidly growing population and recent boosts in the tourism industry making MSWM an issue needing urgent attention in this region.

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Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste Management Company Limited studies have shown that 80% in Trinidad and 70% in Tobago of total waste generated are recyclable but currently land filled, the current and only method of final MSW disposal along with inappropriate dumping employed by residents to dispose of uncollected waste causing recurring floods countrywide as a result of blocked drains along with other adverse effects to the environment, with average waste generated per person in T&T is 4lbs per day,  resulting in 1000 tonnes of waste taken to landfills daily,  there are four landfills located in Trinidad and Tobago all of which was developed in the 1980’s and are either near or have exceed lifespan.

The main landfill is the Beetham Landfill reaching its capacity in a few years, the Government of the Republic of T&T now seeks an alternative methods or another landfill site for final disposal of MSW in this small twin island Republic, hence the increasing need for us to introduce recycling, there are still a great deal of waste that could be recycled ending up in landfill sites. Recycling is one of the best things we can personally do for the environment and is an excellent way of protecting our precious natural resources, cutting global warming and conserving the environment through water and energy conservation.  The fact is we cannot stop global warming, deforestation and all the other ills of the earth without each citizen taking an active step to implement the waste hierarchy of prevention, reuse, recycling and treatment of waste in our daily life.

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The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is now taking active steps to encourage and initiate reduce, reuse and recycle mechanism, this is pending the establishment of a Waste Recycling management Authority, which would facilitate Plastikeep’s transition into a large waste recovery and recycling programme to be instituted by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), an Authority created in 1996 to provide a comprehensive and integrated framework for protecting, conserving and enhancing the environment of Trinidad and Tobago. This will alleviate the existing burden on landfills and revolutionize citizen’s approach to waste disposal as this arrangement would provide a efficient and cost effective implementation of an integrated system for recycling material such as waste tyres, construction, plastic, glass, paper, metal, electronic waste.

This initiative will begin the process of residents taking responsibility for the way waste is viewed in Trinidad and Tobago, in a modern manner.

Why you must know how an EIA can affect your life.

Recently a young man reading my blog post entitled Japan uses Climate Finance to fund coal-fired power plants”, wrote to me and said “I am really unclear about the functions of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), does it even make sense?” Can you help me to understand the importance of an EIA?

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Well an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) according to the UNESCO-IHE is an important planning tool whose sole purpose is to give the environment its due place in the decision-making process by clearly evaluating the environmental, social, and economic impacts of a project prior to decision-making, consequences of a proposed activity at the design states.

Strategic assessment must be undertaken prior to an EIA which considers environmental objectives at a higher level of decision-making facilitating consultations between authorities on policy, planning and programs formulation, it strengthens and streamline projects for an EIA by analyzing accumulative and indirect effects of projects and activities. It aims also to predict environmental impacts at an early stage in project planning and design, find ways and means to reduce adverse impacts, shape projects to suit the local environment, and present the predictions and options to decision makers.

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But more than that in my own honest opinion an EIA provides environmental activist the unique opportunity to stop environmental harm before it occurs and sometime an opportunity to work along with governmental agencies to solve, reverse and mitigate environmental damage after it has happen.

EIA essentially gives us the opportunity to affect environmental decisions, by rejecting projects that can be harmful to the environment before it happens, mitigate measures needed and make recommendations how they should be incorporated into the project design and the appropriate monitoring and evaluation activities that are required to ensure that mitigating measures are implemented and any future problems avoided.

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The importance for undertaking an EIA :

  • An environmental impact Assessment, assist in outlining the necessary areas to consider how an organization will need to change or implement new laws in order to ensure environmentally sustainable development.
  • The implementation necessary measures to mitigate or monitor that may often have an impact on the work of one or several institutions. It will therefore be necessary to recommend precisely the structure and role of new units within an organization or the restructuring of existing units, so that the proposed measures can be implemented effectively.
  • Evaluate the environmental impacts of a proposed development or project and how it can threaten people’s lives and livelihoods. The environmental impact of a project should be considered at the earliest possible stage of the planning cycle, preferably at the project inception phase.

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  • Screening: deciding if an EIA is required based on information collected;
  • Scoping: gathering environmental intelligence through consultation with relevant agencies and experts and a review of applicable laws and regulations;
  •  Impact assessment: identifying and evaluating alternatives for achieving the objective, and the associated environmental impacts of each alternative;
  • Mitigation measures: reviewing proposed actions to prevent or minimize the potential adverse effects of the project;
  • Action: incorporating the mitigation measures in project design and implementation; and

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An EIA essentially should give recommendations on local capacity building and while it is understood that economic, social and environmental changes are inherent to development it should aim to bring about positive change but it can lead to a number of severe conflicts, it is worth noting that economic growth springboards increased well-being but any development thrust with little sensitivity to adverse social or environmental impacts must be addressed in an EIA.

The need to avoid adverse impacts and to ensure long-term benefits led to the evolving concept of sustainability. This has become accepted as an essential feature of development if the aim is increased well-being and greater equity in fulfilling basic needs are met for this and future generations.

Pause on the causeway as Ann Makosinski unleashes Thermoelectric Power

This great news actually warrants a complete stop, at least I did when I stumbled upon this awesome article yesterday, while browsing the 1 Million Women website. 17 year old Ann Makosinski an aspiring scientist of Canada discovered a way we can now enjoy a hot drink and recharge our phone’s battery through green energy solution.

Ann created a mug with a USB connection called the E-drink, that connects your phone to your freshly brewed hot chocolate or green tea as a source of powder. Now get this its not young Ms. Makosinski’s first sustainable design, in 2013 she attended and won the Google Science Fair and won landed her a place on the Times Magazine 30 people under 30 changing the world at the age of 15 years old with her invention called The Hollow Flashlight this human powered flashlight uses body heat to light up.

Ann Makosinski at Google Science Fair (Photo by BETAKIT)

She stated that she came up with this brilliant idea for the torch while chatting to her Filipino friend who was experiencing frequent power outages following an earthquake making it difficult for her to study. This idea not only created a solution for her friend’s problem but also allowed her to explore more possibilities of heat as an excellent power source for everyday activities.

By using the same Peltier Tiles Technology used to make the hollow torch light from the transfer of harvested thermal energy, Makosinski stated that she decided to collect the lost heat as she waited for her hot drink to cool down enough to be consumed and converted it into electric energy. Although this amazing project is still in development, it is certainly a project that would make our lives much more greener and change the world.

The Environmental Consequences of Forest Fires

Over the pass two weeks I have witnessed an increased number of forest fires along the northern range in Trinidad and Tobago, Guardian Newspapers reported that Northern Division Fire Service which consist of 11 Fire Stations between Sangre Grande to Chaguaramas recorded 173 wildfires on Saturday 9th May, 2015 and are responding to an average of 100 wildfires per day, as Trinidad and Tobago experiences one of its worst dry season. Now the flames that have engulfed the large portions of the Northern Range forest may seem harmless to those living far away, but it is worth noting that forest fires have a greater impact on our environment and economy.

Fire in the hills in Maraval

Fire in the hills of Maraval

Source: http://www.trinidadandtobagonews.com/blog/?p=2815

A forest fire is defined as being an uncontrolled fire that occurs in the wilderness, forest fires usually occur in hot and dry climates during the hottest months of the year. Trinidad and Tobago forest fires (also referred to as bush fires or wild fires) claims NEMA are signature events of the dry season which normally extends from January to May, the number of fires and the extent of damages they cause, vary from year to year depending on the existing physical and environmental conditions of the land, and the severity of the dry season essentially the amount and distribution of rainfall, factors affecting its severity depends also on the size and frequency of the fires.

Damaged forest as a result of Forest Fire

Source: http://www.ttnaturelink.com/category/ttnaturetrips/page/2

Forest fires can occur from natural causes or human carelessness and accidents, spreading very quickly and clearing acres of land, natural forest fires play a key role in shaping the ecosystem by serving as an agent of renewal and change, but they can be very deadly damaging the ecosystem and many aquatic lives, destroying and damaging vegetation, animal and wildlife habitats, homes and threatening lives, and timber, also they pollute the air with emissions harmful to human health.

Forest fires also releases carbon dioxide (CO2) a key greenhouse gas into the atmosphere and their effects on the landscape may be long-lasting, the most severe consequences will be experienced in the rainy season during the months between June – December, months after the fires have actually burned the forests. This is realized in severe floods and landslides, which occurs when the rainfall directly impact upon the soil instead of a protective forest cover, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization states that the relationship between forest and climate change is intricate, since forest mitigates climate change by absorbing carbon, but they also contribute to climate change once they are degraded or destroyed.

House Destroyed by Wildfire in Belmont, Trinidad and Tobago 

Source: https://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2015-05-11/firefighters-feeling-heat

The only real way to curb the occurrences of  human induced forest fires are through education and awareness, Global Forest Watch, estimates that the economic value of Trinidad and Tobago’s forestry sector contributed US$86.9 million to the economy in 2011, which is approximately 0.4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, hence the importance of the forest to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. While, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service Association Leo Ramkissoon advised the public in a recent interview to be vigilant and report any fire immediately by calling the hotline 877-FIRE (3473), and that they should acquire a fire fighting devices such as fire extinguisher in their homes, in particular to avoid another occurrence of Saturday’s fire in Belmont destroying homes and displacing residents.

Bibliography 

Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, 2015. Fines for Forest Fires may rise – May 12, 2015. Source- http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2015-05-12/fines-forest-fires-may-rise.

FAO, 2015. The role of forest protected areas in adaptation to climate change. source- http://www.fao.org/docrep/011/i0670e/i0670e13.htm

National Emergency Management Agency, 2000. Forest Fires in Trinidad and Tobago. Source -http://wikieducator.org/images/temp/c/c6/20080722170356!Forest_Fire_In_TrinidadandTobago.pdf

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5 Natural Energy Boosters at work

We are living in times when the big rave is an energy drink or to guzzle down a gallon of coffee, I have found myself guilty of at least one to make it through what may feel like the longest day ever.

But determined to motivate myself into reducing the consumption of caffeine, I did some research and found some scary results a study published in the Journal of American College Health stated that teens consuming high amounts of caffeine are more likely to take dangerous risks, that may result in injury or legal troubles another study by Dr. Georgina Trapp of the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia claims that in a significant amount of people caffeine from energy drinks cause them to be shaky and anxious, which could interfere with the performance of normal daily task or cause emotional issues.

During this process I have tried a thing or two but these are my top 5 ways to boost my energy levels without the unnecessary chemicals.

Hit the Gym at noon – I am not a morning person and attend evening university so the only time available is mid day, since starting this routine I find that I am less tired during the afternoon period and my productivity levels have drastically increase.

Drink Lemon Water – This gives me energy and changes my somewhat of a depressed afternoon mood, all I do is squeeze 2 drops into a glass of water and like magic I feel better, all the fatigue is gone. Dr. Oz stated that lemon water provides the body with energy when it enters your digestive tract, and helps to reduce anxiety and depression.

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Take in some fresh air – I am fortunate to have a window seat at work, so from time to time I stick my nose out for 5 minutes, the freshness and sunlight helps to boost my alertness.

Turn up the temperature – I cannot deal with a cold room, it makes me feel sick yes literally sick, my body goes into sleep mode, so I adjust the temperature and this helps me to refocus.

Stretch at my desk – For us hardworking girls that sit all day at our desk trying our best to get the work done, sometimes it could become extremely difficult to fight off the midday crash,  don’t worry help is on the way, try something that would instantly spike up your energy, yoga stretches is an easy option, simply sit up straight and stretch my arms up as to touch the ceiling or stand and walk from one end of the room to another. Studies suggest that this could fight depression and anxiety. The US Department of Health and Human Services state that the best thing you can do for you neck and back is to stretch at your desk.

O boy and the big great bonus is to sip a cup of tea, this always get me alert, American Dietetic Association claims that tea is a great alternative to coffee drinking and that studies have found some tea may help with cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Now tell me your tips in the comment below.

Bibliography 

Health Line, 2015. The Ultimate “Deskercise” Stretch Routine. http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/deskercise#1

Web MD, 2015. Health Benefits of Green Tea. http://www.webmd.com/diet/tea-types-and-their-health-benefits.

Happy Mother’s Day

To all the mothers around the globe:

So its relaxation Sunday, and you know what we to do on Sundays, reflect and just go with the flow. Today I am going to mediate for 30 minutes, then we are out to brunch, catch up on my favourite show of all time Big Bang Theory. I always aim to get in my bed by 7 ish, we will see if I make it today, anyway the point is to develop a routine that make you feel all rejuvenate on Monday, only you can determine the right way, unfortunately life does not have a one fit all option, what ever you choose to do it does not have to be something big, just be happy.

Let me know what your Sunday is like, I want to know.

The key to this hectic life is to find the balance that makes you happy:-

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Emergency Preparedness Week – May 3-9th, 2015

So, I just returned from an o so important seminar on Emergency Preparedness and thought who better to share my new found information with than my friends. Emergency preparedness week being held from 3-9th May, 2015 and is a national awareness initiative with an overall goal of encouraging people to know their local risk, make plans in the event of it occurring and always have an emergency kit readily available to family members. This knowledge help to  make the community safer and better prepared to face a range of emergencies.

This event was well prepared like somewhat of a cottage meeting where a couple of companies came to display their products, while the local authorities organized the police and fire services to give lecturers, to local residents and all others in attendance.

Natural disasters may be beyond our control, but there are ways to reduce the risk and the impact of whatever emergency we might face, whether natural or human induced. This is capable by making proper preparation to cope on own own for some hours of an emergency the amount may vary based the type of disaster and number of residents affected. Some disasters may block access route to villages like the recent earthquake in Nepal.

Building Destroyed by Nepal Earthquake 

Source: http://qz.com/400088/nasa-technology-located-four-trapped-earthquake-victims-in-nepal-by-detecting-their-heartbeats/

It is absolutely essential that we deal with this issue as a matter of importance in three key paarts:

Know the risk: knowing the specific risk as it relates to our community and region can help us better prepare for instance in Trinidad and Tobago, we have two seasons wet and dry, hence when we are in our rainy season during the months of June-December we are prone to flash flooding,

Floods in North West Trinidad and Tobago 

Source: http://ttnewsflash.com/?p=1957

While during our dry months we experience a number of forest fires, this affect the hillsides and roadways, these hazards leave the population vulnerable to flooding.

Forest Fire 

Source: http://caribmove.blogspot.com/2011/05/professor-norman-girvan-on-existential.html

Make a plan – It will help us and our family know what to do since they may not be together, this is especially important when there are infants and elders in your family, they must be aware of what need to be done in the event of a disaster, this could mean life or death. This plan should include:

  •  out-of-town contact, such as a friend or relative, who family members can call to let them know they are safe.
  • ensure that family members how to text. since during an emergency it’s often easier to get a text message delivered rather than a phone call.
  • teach all your children how and when to call 911 for help.

Emergency kit – now this can either a DIY project follow instructions here for you or you can purchase an inexpensive one here or another but more costly, could be found here but this has enough supplies for a family of four, it will be based on your preference which you choose.

The key is to try to assemble your kit well in advance since disasters can happen at moments notice, this is necessary since you may need  to survive on your own after a emergency so ensure you have enough water, food and other supplies to last at least four (4) days.