Friday, November 16, 2012

Disaster Preparedness

To believe you will never be confronted with an emergency, whether it is a natural or a manmade one is akin to burying your head in the sand. Logic would also dictate that if you do not believe anything will ever happen then you would have no reason to prepare.

Anything can happen to anyone at anytime; it is not a matter of if, but simply a matter of when disaster strikes.

Disaster can strike you as an individual and as a family, such as your vehicle sliding into a snow clogged ravine along a desolate road and you become stranded for days or even weeks. Disasters can strike cities, states and countries, as well. In many cases, there is nothing you can do as an individual, to prevent a disaster, the only thing you can do is be prepared. Your chances of survival dramatically increase if you are prepared not only with emergency supplies but also mentally.

Plan for the Worst Case Scenario

Recent weather events along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, is an example of people not preparing for the worst.  Super storm sandy ripped along the east coast leaving death and destruction in its wake. The storm was categorized as the worst storm in generations and yet was never rated a hurricane. Experts knew for days when and where the storm would make landfall, and they were aware of the potential storm surge as well. Knowing all of this for days ahead of time, the storm still caught the majority of people off guard to include the ones that make it their business to know.

Citizens prepared based on their experiences with storms in the past as well as from information given out by the authorities. If the experts are not frantic then the citizens will not be frantic and will not have a sense of urgency to get prepared. Experts can predict when and where a storm will make landfall what cannot be predicted however, is the destructiveness once it reaches land. The government and its citizens were not prepared and utility companies went into denial. They did not base their response to the disaster on the realities in front of them. They failed to understand the problem thus failed to respond correctly. The lesson is that you cannot rely on anyone but yourself and to prepare regardless of past events.

Future discussions about the emergency response and preparedness will centre on the question of the government's responsibility and the responsibility of its citizenry during a disaster.

Regardless of the disaster, you can expect chaos, confusion, and mistakes will be made. However, during a crisis mistakes and the wrong decisions can cost lives.

What Can You Do

First, you must realize that even the best of plans can go awry. Therefore, backup plans are needed. Ask yourself what happens when the utilities are not restored in a timely manner. Most experts recommended a three-day (72-hour) supply of food and water. This recommendation is based on emergency response by the government, so what is your backup plan if 72 hours has passed and still you are in the dark. Regardless of the disaster the local infrastructure can be damaged, or even destroyed. An aging infrastructure in cities and towns will make restoring it back to normal that much more difficult once it has been damaged. You must consider your community's preparedness as you prepare. You may not be able to rely on disaster relief agencies for days or even weeks in some cases. Community shelters may be over capacity and you may not find room for you and/or your family.


In today's world, you could be confronted with a nuclear, biological or chemical attack, armed attack or invasion by a rogue nation, massive earthquakes, tsunamis, fallout from a malfunctioning nuclear plant, or even a volcano. Chances are you will survive the disaster itself but can you survive the aftermath, can you live for days, weeks and even longer without electricity, running water, gas for your cooking ranges and impassable roads and highways. You will have to prepare for the days after.

There may be civil unrest, people turn to their government for help during a crisis and can just as quickly turn against the government when help is not forthcoming. Understanding the effects of a disaster is part of being prepared.

Society will change during a disaster and yet will stay the same. There will be the ones that have worked hard and will continue to work hard to survive. There will ones looking to victimize others and then those looking to others for help. Leaders will emerge and then agitators looking to push an agenda will soon be guiding demonstrations.

Disasters will have a psychological effect on people, so family, friends and neighbours may exhibit signs of mental stress. People will not act as you would expect, and some when they become desperate may become violent. In some cases, a person that has not prepared may be convinced that they and their family are starving and will commit criminal acts in the name of providing for their family. You must keep in mind people will be angry with themselves, the authorities and with anyone that is seemly prepared and they may vent their frustration and anger at you.

As you can see, there is more to preparing for a disaster than just stockpiling a few days' supply of food and water. However, being properly prepared with the right supplies and a sufficient amount will alleviate some of the effects of a disaster. Not having the immediate concerns of providing food, water and other essentials during the initial stages of the disaster will give you the time to evaluate the situation with a clear head.