Monday, June 27, 2011

How Long, O Lord?

Late again.

So today let’s talk about disasters and duration. Most emergency measures organizations recommend that you have a 72 hour (3 day) supply of food, water, medicine and other necessities on hand. Recently, I’ve noticed that it is more and more common to see 96 hour (4 day) kit be recommended, and even one week kits. This is a good thing, in my opinion, as it shows that these organizations are looking at the reality of large scale disasters.

At least in North America, the start of recommendations to longer duration kits had a lot of it’s genesis in the aftermath of Katrina, when the scale of the disaster proved too large for immediate remediation with the resources available. Other disasters in the last decade, such as the Indonesian tsunami of 2004, the Haiti and Chilean earthquakes, and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan this year have given us further examples of how inadequate disaster preparations are when confronted with massive events.

It’s not that the governments aren’t trying to be prepared. The sad fact is that preparations sufficient to prepare for a truly large scale disaster are just too expensive to create and maintain. Disaster preparedness is more and more seen to be at least partially the responsibility of the individual, especially in the immediate to medium term before a government can marshal resources.

For the individual, it means making darn sure that you have that one weeks supply AT A MINIMUM. But give some thought to the longer term. In the aftermath of a large disaster, help might not arrive in sufficient amounts for weeks. Being prepared might simply be the difference between being hungry because only a trickle of food is getting through, or it might mean the difference between life and death.

Even in situations such as the flooding we’ve seen this spring, your supplies can make a big difference. For example, if you’re out of a job because water has flooded your workplace, life is a lot easier if you’re eating out of your larder and not trying to find money for food.

Give some thought to the long term. As the weeks and weeks of flooding have shown us this year, disasters can be of varying intensities and durations. As well, past experience has also shown us that help can be a long time coming. Plan for it not to arrive.

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