Do you have your emergency supplies, do you have a plan? Let's talk about emergency preparedness. But first let's define what that really means. Preparedness is how we change behavior to limit the impact of catastrous events on people. Preparedness is planning, stockpiling emergency food other emergency supplies and equipment.
A disaster as defined by FEMA is "An occurrence of a natural catastrophe, technological accident, or human-caused event that has resulted in severe property damage, deaths, and or multiple injuries," large-scale disaster "is one that exceeds the response capacity of the local jurisdiction and requires State, and potentially Federal intervention.
There was survey done in August 2011 by the NCDC, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, which tracked US attitudes on domestic preparedness and terrorism over the last ten years, since the 911 attack. In August 20011 they interviewed 1000 adults living in the United States. 52% said they do not have an emergency preparedness plan in place, 49% answered yes. But of the 49% that answered yes to having a plan only 35% of them has at least 2 days of food, water, a flashlight, portable radio and a designated family meeting place if a disaster occurs. The remaining 13% had a few items in place.
Simply put, America is still unprepared for major catastrophic events. The prevalent mindset seems to be one of denial and one that demonstrates a lack of responsibility. "It will not happen to me" or "I'll have time later" or "why bother it will not make a difference" are far too prevalent in the American psyche and the reality has demonstrated time and again that those that are affected the greatest by disadvantages are those citizens with this denial perspective.
Another question asked in the survey by the NCDC, was In the event of a major disaster in your community, such as a terrorist attack or a catastrophic natural disaster, how long do you believe it will take first responders, such as fire, police, paramedics, or others such as the National Guard to arrive and assist you if needed? 32% believe that emergency responders will be there within 1 hour, 30% believe that it will be within several hours, and 19% within a day. Wow, now that is a misguided sense of security. Our local first responders do their best but with a large-scale disaster it exceeds their capabilities and requires State and Federal involvement. Following the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the most recent Hurricane Isaac phones were not working, there were power outages that lasted for days.
So if you have a misguided sense of how quickly outsiders will come and help you, do not you have an obligation to prepare yourself and your families?
It is recommended that you have a survival kit with at least 3 days of survival supplies to take care of yourself and family. FEMA recommends that you have enough emergency supplies to take care of yourself and family for 2 weeks. We have much more work to do to make America as disaster-ready as it should be. Emergencies do happen, they will happen, but if we all prepare now it can save lives.
September is Emergency Preparedness Month, let's all start getting prepared.