Catastrophic Events and Disasters Can Ruin Your Day — Updated 2017


Share
Ostrich Assessing the Situation

Assessing the Situation

Classic Categories of Disasters

When we started writing our Advisories, back in 2012 (!), this was the list of “Catastrophic Events” and “Disasters” we learned about and wrote about:

  1. Widespread Natural Disasters – Several of these HIT somewhere in the world every year. Examples: Earthquakes, tsunamis, major storms, major wildfires. (Melting of ice caps and drought can be added to this list, though they usually don’t HIT. Rather, they creep up on regions.)
  2. Annual Threats – These events can be EXPECTED regularly every year including in the U.S. Examples: flooding, power outages, tornados, hurricanes.
  3. Man-made Accidents – These are unexpected, far less frequent, and often can’t really be anticipated. Examples: train wrecks, plane crashes, explosions and fires, nuclear plant meltdowns. Some people would add an economic meltdown to this list.

Since 2012, though, there has been one change to our list. Along about 2014 we had to add . . .

  1. A new category: Man-made On Purpose

You can guess which disaster falls into this category: Terrorist attacks.

Facts and statistics about natural disasters change slowly. They get worse as more people crowd to urban and/or coastal areas where storms are most common. And weather patterns are changing because of global warming.

But the facts of these changes are pretty well established, and the changes themselves are relatively slow.

Terrorist attacks are something else. News about terrorist attacks is dramatic, and gets splashed on the front pages. These attacks take place suddenly and in totally different and unrelated places.

Moreover, facts and statistics about terrorism aren’t necessarily well known. Here are some statistics from the 2016 Global Terrorism Index.

  • In 2015, nearly 30,000 people were killed from terrorist attacks worldwide.
  • More than half the deaths were attributable to two organizations: ISIS and Boko Haram.
  • Although many countries experience terrorism, over 80 per cent of all deaths in 2015 occurred in 8 countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Egypt and Somalia.
  • Over 90 per cent of all terrorism attacks occurred in countries experiencing violent internal conflicts.
  • In developed countries (Europe, the U.S.), the “man-made” factors correlating with terrorism: youth unemployment, levels of criminality, access to weapons and distrust in the electoral process.

OK, enough on terrorist attacks.

Let’s get back to our full list. When we look at all the possibilities, we realize immediately that trying to prepare for every catastrophe is impossible.

So why do we even make an effort at preparedness?

Because we know some of these disasters will happen, some day, to us, to our friends and neighbors, and to our community!

A better question: How to respond to this reality?

Here are the three most common approaches we’ve observed:

  1. Denial. Some people feel overwhelmed and bury their heads in the sand (figuratively, of course), pretending nothing will happen to them. If you have people like this in your family or at your workplace, you feel the same frustration we do. We have found over the years that it’s not worth the effort to try to change these folks’ mind.
  2. Passionate Anticipation. Some people are convinced disasters of the worst kind will happen and they spend time, money and psychic energy getting training, stockpiling supplies, buying gear and developing the mindset to get them through when the SHTF. We have met many of these people over the years, and sometimes are envious of everything they’ve put in place.
  3. Common-Sense Acceptance. Far more people approach emergency planning as simply one of the steps that responsible citizens take. Just as we buy insurance for our cars – in case we have an accident – and insurance for our homes – in case there’s a fire – making a commitment to preparedness – in case one of these disasters hits – just seems sensible.

Here at Emergency Plan Guide, we tend to support attitude #3. And we try to encourage people to take easy steps for sensible preparedness.  We remind them that it doesn’t all have to be done immediately. BUT, it can’t be done after the emergency hits!

For newer and long-time readers . . .

Here’s how we approach the process of preparedness.

  1. Count on having the bare necessities. Start with the most likely and immediate emergencies. For example, running out of food and water – whether it’s because of a simple power outage or a severe storm – is easily predictable! And the solution to this problem is one we all already know. It just takes adding a few items to our shopping list each week for the next few months. Nothing difficult, nothing high-tech. Hardest part is deciding where to store these supplies!
  2. Add Life-saving skills. You already teach your kids how to call 911. You teach them to swim. Add a few more skills to your own stock, like how to send a text, how to handle basic first aid or administer CPR. These aren’t particularly hard-core survival skills – they are really every day necessities.
  3. Think stopgap instead of permanent. It’s possible that we will experience a true apocalypse. It a lot more likely, though, that we’ll be trapped in the car overnight, or have to leave the house for a few days because of a water main break or the threat of a hurricane. Have enough packed so you can get along for 3 days at a hotel or in your brother’s extra bedroom. You aren’t likely to be camping in a forest somewhere trying to shoot squirrels for food.
  4. Build a support group. We already mentioned your brother, but what about neighbors? As a team, you could expect to have all the necessities and skills needed to get through the emergency – if you have built a relationship so you trust one another! Here at EmergencyPlanGuide.org we recommend taking a CERT course and using that to kick-off an effort to build a neighborhood or workplace group. Everybody has something to offer, and together we’re a lot more resilient and powerful than we are standing alone.
  5. Keep this stuff in perspective. Yes, emergencies will happen, but your local First Responders will be able to deal with them in 99% of the cases. And yes, a terrorist attack could happen. But whereas in 2015 some 30,000 people across the world were killed by terrorist attacks, 30,000 people are killed by gun violence every year in the U.S. alone! For that matter, around 30,000 people are killed in car accidents every year, too. Keep it in perspective!

When uncommon threats become predictable

Occasionally a threat develops that used to be in the “rare” column but now approaches “likely.” For example, here in Southern California there is one looming threat that tends to disrupt the stable, calm-cool-and-collected scenario described above — and that is a major earthquake.

Major earthquakes are unique in their potential for widespread damage. And the chances of a major quake here are getting better and better. (I think you could add a developing hurricane to this category, too.)

If these major events happen, days or even weeks may go by before outside help can arrive.

Our own First Responders tell us that planning for a 3-day emergency is not adequate. They ask us to prepare to take care of ourselves for at least 10 days.

If your own list of catastrophic events contains a threat that is usually rare but whose chances of happening go up for whatever reasons, then you need to take immediate and more focused action.

Having the basics already in place will make that extra effort a lot easier and give you a lot more confidence in your ability to survive.

So, let this Advisory  be a prompt for reflection about your own situation – and an impetus for action.

As always, you can’t prepare or train AFTER THE FACT.

 Virginia 
Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. Our section BUILDING YOUR SURVIVAL SKILLS can get you started quickly! (It’s in the right-hand sidebar of this page.) Clicking the links will take you to targeted Advisories. If you know exactly what you’re looking for, use the SEARCH box at the top of the sidebar to get to that information even faster.

P.P.S.  As I write this, we’re approaching PRIME DAY at Amazon (July 11, 2017). If you’ve got a shopping list going — for emergency supplies or gifts or whatever — now might be the time to consider becoming a PRIME member.  We find Amazon to be a good source for nearly all supplies, and sometimes there are really great deals to be had. Try it out for free right now:

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply