Good Idea: Prepare Ahead for Emergencies

  • 6 March 2012

“Australia's history of natural disasters is good reason for families to have an emergency plan,” said Matthew Parsons at a recent Public Affairs Council meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Sydney.

Matthew, a Forensic CPA, serves as Director of Public Affairs for the Church in the Hebersham Stake. He recently met with similar directors from other parts of New South Wales.

Matthew continued, “The many recent bushfires and floods make the need for people to be self-reliant highly evident. And the possibility of unemployment adds another dimension to that need.”

Also at the meeting was Emily Kwok, PhD candidate and a practicing psychologist. “Being prepared removes some of the fear of crisis,” said Emily. “Our whole street lost power a few years ago, but our family life went on quite normally during that week because we had food and household supplies on hand.”

Preparation can be accomplished in some degree by nearly everyone, according to the Provident Living website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All information at the site is free of charge.

The website addresses storing food and drinking water, having a financial reserve, keeping medications and first aid supplies on hand, and other timely issues. Members of other faiths often express an interest in taking similar measures and want to know how to get started.

Provident Living suggests starting with “a three-month supply of food that is part of your normal diet.” For most Latter-day Saints, such preparation is an ongoing routine.

“Our three young daughters like to help as we rotate the food items,” said Matt Parsons. “They seem to sense the safety and comfort of being prepared before the emergency happens.”

Communication planning and document retrieval are also a valuable part of disaster preparedness. “We have put all legal papers in a briefcase that is readily available,” said David Seacy of Liverpool. “A written will is something all parents should have.”

Elder Terence Vinson, an Area Seventy and Church Priesthood Advisor to the Australia National Public Affairs Council, underscores the importance of every family being prepared. “Crisis is not brought about by natural disasters alone. Families face crisis due to illness, accident, emotional health, unemployment, death, moving and divorce.”

“Every family,” says Elder Vinson,“ should be constantly working toward self-reliance and emergency preparedness. Even if a crisis or emergency doesn't occur to us personally, being prepared creates a feeling of freedom and peace and also enables us to reach out to help others who may face crises.”

Each stake (diocese) in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an Emergency Plan to check on and care for its members in the event of a disaster. The plan also includes accounting for missionaries, assisting members who experience emotional trauma, and knowing which members have medical skills.

Additionally, each congregation (or “ward”) within the stake is encouraged to have a similar plan in place.

Other facets of self-reliance and family well-being discussed on the Provident Living website are:

1. Employment
2. Gardening
3. Physical health
4. Social and Emotional Strength
5. Combating pornography
6. Education

At Provident Living the interested reader can also find counsel on debt elimination, living on a budget, and teaching principles of financial management to family members.