Being prepared is critical in an age of climate change

“Be Prepared” is more than just a boy scout motto in the age of climate change.  It’s more than just the title of a very funny book for new dads.  It’s an imperative.  All families need to be more prepared for extreme events because as we feel the first edges of climate change, they are happening with more frequency or severity.

The media is covering one aspect of this.  In fact, over the past few weeks there have been some incredible pieces written about the connection between extreme weather and climate change.

  • Eugene Robinson wrote a great piece in the Washington Post about the derecho that hit the East Coast.
  • The Detroit Free Press ran an AP article quoting scientists saying that it’s “I toldyou so time” on climate change.
  • The LA Times wrote an editorial about climate change in Our Backyard.
  • Bill McKibben wrote a funny piece in the Daily Beast on how impressed he is with the special effects team behind the global warming hoax.

These articles are all spot on, and informative, but what they fail to do is tell people how to prepare for the increased severity or frequency of heat waves, wild fires, derechos, flooding, etc.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot myself, since we just experienced an unprecedented storm (called a derecho), and the worst heat wave ever in Washington, DC.  Here are two things you can do right now to make sure that you are ready when the next storm hits.

1. Make a kit.  FEMA actually has some great resources on this, and recommends that everyone have a preparedness kit.  They even have games for kids to play to help them put together a kit.  One special item on the preparedness kit for families with babies is formula and diapers– so the great news for parents who are nursing and using cloth diapers is that you’re already one step along the road to being prepared!

2. Meet your neighbors.  In my observations of post-apocolyptic DC a few weeks ago, I noticed that the more people knew their neighbors, the easier time they had with power outages, home damage, etc.  People who knew their neighbors made plans to go to museums together during the heat wave and cook meals together on the barbeque to empty their melting freezers.  They also had help moving huge trees that had fallen.  Most people who didn’t know their neighbors had to go to a hotel for a a few days.   And of course, there are tons of other benefits to knowing your neighbors.  So spend some more time outside, join your neighborhood association, or just bring a little gift to your neighbors.  It’ll help you be more prepared, and it’ll create a better community for your kids at the same time!

3. Ask your city to prepare.  US cities are less prepared for climate change than our counterparts in other parts of the world because the issue has been caught up in politics.  Whatever your politics, it makes sense for your city to be ready for increasing frequency or severity of extreme weather, and the associated power outages.  Click  here to find out what the local impacts of climate change are where you live and ask your city to prepare for those  impacts. 

Keya Chatterjee

About Keya Chatterjee

Keya Chatterjee is a Climate Change and Environment expert, and Director for International Climate Policy at World Wildlife Fund. Her work focuses on the environmental crisis facing the planet, and what policies and measures should be taken to ameliorate the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Keya’s commentary on climate change policy and sustainability issues has been quoted in dozens of media outlets including USA Today, CNN, and NBC Nightly News. Keya resides in Washington, DC with her husband Andrew and her son Siddharth. She enjoys practicing yoga, biking, and spending time with her friends and family. She is working on a book about how to have a baby without raising your carbon footprint to be published in 2013 by Ig Publishing. Keep up with Keya’s writing on the nexus of climate change activism and motherhood at www.keyachatterjee.com.