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The head of a national disaster preparedness center says Americans are grossly unengaged and unprepared for the next disaster, which could be a massive earthquake, dirty bomb or pandemic that puts swine flu to shame. (Does his family have an updated escape plan?)
I have multiple flashlights, a battery-operated radio, several bags of grains and 20 pounds of dog food. But if Washington faces the kind of disaster that Irwin Redlener says will inevitably happen—in some U.S. city—and I have to escape from town or seal myself in my rowhouse for any period of time, my future looks grim.
I’m not alone. According to Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Americans are grossly unprepared for the next disaster. He says horrific events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina have served less as wake-up calls than snooze alarms—before Americans are pulled back into complacency.
Redlener is the author of Americans at Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared for Megadisasters and What We Can Do and co-founder of the Children’s Health Fund with the singer Paul Simon. Last week, I talked to him about the Disaster Preparedness Center, founded in 2003.
I see one of your research areas is citizen engagement. How are people feeling about disasters and emergency planning these days?
The issue of how, when and if citizens get engaged in an effective way in disasters is one of the greatest misunderstood challenges in the field of disaster response planning. We’ve never as a country been able to engage in a full or effective way of preparing, in which people are looking out for themselves and not depending on outside help. Even in the heyday—the 1950s and ‘60s--when there was a lot of talk about bomb shelters, very few people did anything about it.
After 9/11, we don’t find much change in the willingness of the general population in doing what they need to do. I speak a lot, and virtually every audience, I ask, “How many of you are prepared, according to published guidelines, for a major disaster?” If I get more than two or three hands in a crowded auditorium, I’m always surprised. It’s even true among disaster planning professionals. There’s a very high level of resistance in the general public to following guidelines to get prepared.
Until the next big thing happens.
Yes, then there’s a rush. People refer to these as wake-up calls. But they seem to function more as snooze alarms. We get up, we may spend some money, but the pull back into a state of complacency is overwhelming.
What are the new big areas in the field of disaster preparedness?
The development of “all-hazard preparedness.” There’s Ready.gov, or local equivalents like ReadyNYC. The message says these are the kinds of hazards you might be facing in your area—earthquakes, terrorism, fires—and how you should prepare.
I am now questioning several things about this:
- Who are the messengers, and are they trusted messengers? Do we want to hear this from physicians, mayors, the head of the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]?
- I question the premise of all-hazard preparedness. I think people find it overwhelming and don’t want to think about it. People have a limited capacity for reading about disasters in general.
- The efforts people would have to make to be prepared is daunting, especially for a poor family. There can be an economic burden and a storage burden.
What does being prepared really mean?
That’s the first challenge. We’re not really sure. It means having a battery-operated radio, having your papers in order, having food for three days. But sometimes these are not appropriate guidelines. If you're preparing for a major pandemic, where gathering in public spaces is not allowed, stockpiling for three days is not enough.
There is no working definition of “preparedness,” so if you can’t define it, how do you know what you need to get there, and how much it costs?
Is it a matter of people not taking the initiative to get prepared, other than buying duct tape several years ago?
We’ve done a survey: If you are involved in and survived a really significant disaster and you can dial 911, how long do you think before responders will show up? It turns out people’s perception is way off. They think it will be an hour, but in reality, we’re talking three days or never. So if you have a misguided sense of how quickly outsiders will come and help you, don't you have an obligation to prepare yourself?
In Israel there’s a wide understanding that you have to have a safe room in the house. What’s most important to Israeli planners is this concept of situational awareness, knowing you could function in a disaster. It also suggests that people are somewhat aware at all times that potential situations can occur: If you’re a parent at the airport with your children, you have a general awareness of what’s happening, what looks suspicious, where your kids are.
Is this manner of not being engaged a particularly American thing?
It’s got particularly American aspects. Culturally we don’t really like investments in the future anymore. The days when Eisenhower could declare that we needed a national highway system for defense and commerce and get it done--those days of mega-investments for long-term gain have died an ugly political death. So I think that’s a problem that is uniquely American. The Dutch live under sea level, but they decided years ago they would invest in extraordinarily sophisticated ways of keeping the ocean under their country. If we had that, we would have never seen flooding in the U.S.
In some places—London, Belfast, Israel, Madrid—there seems to be more willingness on the part of the public to understand their role in the event of a disaster. Including, in Israel, if there’s a bombing in a café, that place is reopened for business the next day. That contributes to resiliency. In our country we have this lingering inability to do recovery, which contributes to the sense that we’re not willing to be prepared. The Gulf is still recovering from Katrina, they now have the oil calamity, and in the back of their minds they are thinking about the 2010 hurricane season.
What cities are best prepared?
I am seriously concerned--as is the federal government is—about the possibility of terrorists building a nuclear device that will be detonated in a major U.S. city. But there is no city—especially a high priority city (New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston) that has any degree of reasonable preparedness for such an event.
It’s very much disaster-specific. Miami is better prepared for major hurricanes than many other hurricane-prone cities. San Francisco is doing better than other earthquake-prone cities. How would New York City handle less dramatic acts of terrorism, like a suicide bomber or a dirty bomb? They have an extraordinarily responsive police department. In those cases, those cites are doing reasonably well.
The U.S. has about 5,000 hospital systems. They were supposed to be getting $500 million a year in funding [for disaster preparedness]. It’s more like $400 million. Putting money into disaster preparedness is very far from the top of the list. To get the hospital system to a higher level of disaster preparedness would take a $5 billion initial investment and $1 billion to maintain it. So we’re getting what we pay for—a shockingly unprepared U.S. health care system.
What are the top public worries today?
I don’t think people have that many worries, except for people like me who worry every day there’s going to be a nuclear attack a few blocks from here.
For a lot of the country, there’s no appetite to hear what we’re talking about. It’s, “I don’t have a job, I can’t pay the rent.” I wouldn’t want to ask that person if they had three days of food stockpiled.
What’s your biggest worry?
I’m always concerned about having a pandemic that’s far more serious than what we experienced last year--like a Spanish flu scenario
There are some natural disasters we’re due for: a massive earthquake, and I’m not talking about California. The New Madrid Fault runs through the middle of the country, where cities are not prepared for earthquakes. Seventy million Americans live in potential earthquake areas.
Then there’s terrorism, which I think is inevitable in the U.S.; subway bombs and suicide bombings, which I think are going to happen; and the potential of nuclear weapon detonation by a terrorist group in one of our cities.
Finally, I’m concerned about the safety of nuclear power plants in terms of meltdowns.
You live in Manhattan?
What have you personally done to prepare for these disasters?
We live in New Rochelle. After 9/11 we had a big extended family meeting and talked about who would pick up grandma and what our alternative ways of communicating would be. We reviewed that once a couple years later, but we have not done so in the last three or four years. We need to review our food supply. It’s on our to-do list, but it hasn’t been done. True confession now.
Well, you’ve made me feel really good about carrying on with life.
[Laughs.] Yeah, I’m just going to pick up a glass of hemlock here.
Nobody wants to think about this. But we have to think about it enough so it doesn’t disrupt our lives--like putting on a seatbelt in the car. We do it automatically now, but before that, tens of thousands of people died. These are things not particularly fun to think about, but we do them because we have a sense of potential hazards in the future that we’d like to mitigate.
As grown ups, we have to be able to expand the to-do list. It’s like saying to a busy executive, “You have to change your lifestyle or you’re going to have a heart attack,” and the executive saying, “I don’t have time.” You can’t get away with that. You need to be able to accommodate what’s needed to survive. I think that’s what adults are supposed to do.
Jul 13, 2010
Bendiciones desde Costa Rica. Para muchas cosas NO est? preparado el mundo. He tratado de hacerlo del conocimiento p?blico en muchos pa?ses y no se quiere escuchar. New York debe evacuar el Empire State, Katmand? debe prepararse pues gran destrucci?n le vendr?. Col?n Panam?, Lim?n Costa Rica. Ya hab?a escrito sobre "Jap?n no ha terminado" No soy alarmista ni fan?tico. S?lo busco difundir lo que recibo de Dios para que el hombre intente cambiar muchas cosas, a tiempo. Invito a visitar este link, donde entender?n por qu? escribo: http://mision-rama-sucot.blogspot.com Paz y bien a tu casa.
Ever thought where can I buy a bunker? Well you?re not alone. 1212bunkers Your specialist in survival bunker also we build bunker Boats and Pyramid?s Because when it comes to you and your families safety remember It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it! www.1212bunkers.webs.com Let me share this before I go if you had to communicate with someone 1,000 years ago with only notes. How would you do it? Chances are someone from that era doesn?t speak your dialect and this is because about every 200 years or less slang and other forms of talking change. so apparently you are left with one form to communicate pictography. so you might draw a bird a plane and some lines to represent numbers but if the person looks at it and says what the #@%% is this person crazy or super stupid you might understand how the Egyptians or Mayans or many more feel when trying to communicate to us. what does this mean well these cultures and many more have all gone to enormous lengths to communicate a grave Idea and it is 2012, also it?s in pyramids temples caves and more. well why so important, better question here, we are a little more than a year from the 12,21,2012 date and why are the poles changing what?s going on with the climate, why is all the world in such a disaster and now tsunamis earthquakes ect. well maybe just maybe these old cultures were smarter then we give credit maybe they were smarter than us at one time(Atlantis) and destroyed for arrogance that thinking nothing will happen their technologies will save them and people who lived 10,000 years before them just smoked way too many drugs or something and didn?t have their resources just think now we are having solar storms and solar flares and some E.M.P. emissions form the sun and they are getting bigger and bigger son we will see thousands of computers and phones affected by the upcoming e.m.p. blast from the sun. but on the other hand maybe these cultures just want to warn us in the form they hope we will understand with pictures and dates. Lastly is it just coincidence that these cultures all were thousands and thousands of miles apart, or were they really better equipped with technology than us in order to go and distribute the knowledge to others. And yes I do accept the Anunnaki as a theory Just something to think about. 1212bunkers
We have become a nation of people who sit back and demand the government fix everything. I am sorry if it offends people, but if people did not already have storm preparations in place, they had 48 hours to prepare for Katrina or run for the hills. After the fact many people said they did not evacuate because no one told them to. Absurd. I am coming out of winter and I know I do not have to buy canned goods for about a month because I always stock up before winter. I have gas to run my tractor for spring cleanup because I always have at least 8 gallons on hand for the generator. I live 12 miles from a nuclear plant so I keep a go bag packed with clothes for a week. I can grab enough food and water for a week and be on the road in 20 minutes. I am about 20 feet above sea level with no immediate threats of flooding. I am 200 feet from tracks that see trains with chemical cars every day of the week. The problems faced can be major or dumb. 2 years ago a train dragged a stupid rusty chain for 10 miles causing sparks and setting hundreds of small brush fires along the tracks that forced the evacuation of several neighborhoods. I know where I live and the problems we may face. And I do not expect the government to do a thing when things go bad. Was I grateful for the nightly welfare checks by police, fire and the National Guard during the 9 days we did not have power the winter of 2008? Sure. But like many of my neighbors, I was prepared. The one new family that had just moved up from a nice suburb of Boston whined the entire time. Both of their cars ran out gas in their driveway so the police gave them gas during a welfare check. Even with their car running they refused to drive for supplies and demanded that food and water be delivered. While the rest of us went back to business as usual with generators humming, they never went to work. They kept their kids out of school. The Red Cross delivered food every day. They bought a generator only after every government agency told them they would not get one for free. It was pathetic. And these people make twice as much money as I do. They could afford to help themselves, but chose not to.
There is ultimate insurance against NATUREs wrath! as demonstrated by the Japanese crisis. One of my poems in "Bouquet and Garlands", Authors press, New Delhi, 2007: Dr.M.R.Iyer, Mumbai, India A Fine Tuned World World is a precisely tuned machine; Who tuned these parameters fine? To hypothesize these evolved of its own Would be impertinently vain The exact tilt of Earth's axis Gave beautiful change of seasons The right rotation and range from the sun Made Earth inhabitable for Man With the biosphere finely tuned Innumerable flora and fauna flourished The design of the ozone layers Protect it from vile solar rays Man, a wonder machine created by design A self-procreating innovation With infinite model variation All these point to an ingenious plan To upset nature's finely balanced system* With childish impetuosity of a millennium-- A mere speck in the eternity of time Would be imprudent wisdom * A reflection on the possibility of the delicate equilibrium of the biosphere being affected by Mans scientific pursuits
I am sitting here in New Zealand, not far from the devastating 6.3 earthquake which has just levelled our beautiful city of Christchurch. Day 3 and the magnitude of it is only now becoming apparent. here we have a national Civil defence system, of which I am a part. We are prepared for this and the earthquake of last September sent many of us scurrying to upgrade our personal preparedness. The important thing to note is this: For the 1st 24 hours you are on your own. There will be nobody to help you. Civil infrastructures are fragile things at the best of times. in a disaster they will have their attention on the majors. you will have to look after yourself. or die. it is that simple.
I am sitting here in New Zealand, not far from the devastating 6.3 earthquake which has just leveled our beautiful city of Christchurch. Day 3 and the magnitude of it is only now becoming apparent. here we have a national Civil defence system, of which I am a part. We are prepared for this and the earthquake of last September sent many of us scurrying to upgrade our personal preparedness. The important thing to note is this: For the 1st 24 hours you are on your own. Yhere will be nobody to help you. Civil infrastructures are fragile things at the ebst of times. in a disaster they will have their attention on the majors. you will have to look after yourself. or die. it is that simple.
The Earth is more or less spherical, rotating and more or less self balancing. Unfortunately within this "self balancing" context actions are balanced with reactions. If you do not plan for your future, that really is not a problem ---- you will simply not have a future. So after L.A., N.Y. etc disappear - there will be more resources for the survivors. Don't like this? Then get serious. I have wine, water, canned food, pasta, bottled gas, wood pellets, antibiotics, water purification pills, t.p. and bullets for 4 people for about 30 days. Along with 12 other families and close friends, I think we will be better off than if we did nothing or waited for a politician.
Good day, I have been working on the idea : "Preventing Floods" , for last 2 years, it is now mature for deployment. It will help in following: - prevent LOSS of LIVES - prevent loss of PROPERTY (public & private) - cut down sate expenditure & time in aftermath to Floods. I would like to get in touch with a relevant Government authority, and work with it to make it a success. This can be deployed in most flood-prone countries, like Australia. Best Regards Capt. Paramjit Singh Battu tel: +91 9316102611 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you help your community to prepare, you will not have to worry about them knocking on your door for help. Join CERT - Community Emergency Response Team. http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/get_prepared/cert.shtml http://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/
Anyone who has worked a major disaster will testify that the real strength of any locality is not the government plans. Of necessity they are macro plans and only serve those who must stand in line for the next hand out. If individuals do what they can to prepare their families, and work a little harder at practicing that age-old great advise "love thy neighbor" recovery from nearly anything is possible. Neighbors can work together and share without that becoming a problem. The day of the disaster is not the day, however, the begin making friends and building bonds. For those who think their fire stick is going to "save" them, remember that if you are holed up in a defensive position (even a strong one), you may get some (perhaps many) of your assailants, however they have freedom of maneuver and will eventually prevail. Remember what you learned in Advanced Infantry Training. True strength will be found in unity based on correct principles. Wisdom should be telling any who are not brain dead that we are on the cusp of some rough times. Now is the time to get busy practicing some good old fashion Christian brotherly love. We don't need another bunch of Federal schmucks prattling how they are going to save us if we'll just fork over a few billion (or would that be trillion now.... listen to the little voice that is telling you to prepare...
Why? Because journalists (The Fourth Estate) can no longer hold the powers accountable. The Fifth Estate will to rise to the occasion by learning the process. The Fifth Estate represents the people and the blogosphere. Read opensalon named Fifth Estate Best Practices and Democracy to see where corporations get a free pass and marketing has overtaken journalism. The blog is called onebyland
I would agree with you! The other problems that State's have is that the Federal monies flow through the EMA's (Emergency Management Agencies) and it is up to the EMA's to decide how projects (Grant Requests) get funded. Since government is political and highly bureacratic, there is a loss of focus on what's really important - 'TO PROTECT THE CONSTITUENTS OF THE STATE", so the money can be spent on non-important projects that are political in nature. The other issue from the Federal government perspective, there is no real governance or oversight on how the monies that they are giving the States is "really" being spent. Until this gets changed, it is a sad state of affairs......
...to keep them from your stocked goods? You bet. If things look like they're only falling apart for a few days, we'll raid the freezer, and have a cookout together, but if it looks like a long-term disaster, then they better not be coveting my canned corn.
Things are way too unpredictable on this active planet. Besides natural disasters and terrorism etc., there is still the danger of economic trouble. Many nations, including the U.S., are trying to get out of financial trouble by printing more money, which is part of the problem in the first place. So be prepared for hyper-inflation as well. It's best to prepare for the worst, then be at peace and live for the best. For a good non-fanatical overview on preparedness, see www.one-stop-survival-guide.com Craig
Many people are prepared, but most depend too much on the authorities to take care of them. You'd think we would learn from the past, like from Katrina. And that was only very localized. Besides natural disasters and terrorism etc., there is still the danger of economic trouble. Many nations, including the U.S., are trying to get out of financial trouble by printing more money, which is part of the problem in the first place. So be prepared for hyper-inflation as well. It's best to prepare for the worst, then be at peace and live for the best. It's like an insurance policy, except you have something to show for your money. For a good non-fanatical overview on preparedness, see www.one-stop-survival-guide.com Craig
I think that a natural disaster can't be prepared for because if your home is destroyed, than what? If the roads are destroyed, than what? I suppose one could maybe bicycle, if that is not destroyed, and ride to a place that can provide assistance? It is really up to the government, those that live outside of the place of disaster to provide assistance to those who lose everything and have no means. All other nominal disasters can be withstood, most people have canned goods in their homes. The neighbors can all pool resources and get through it. If a person lives in a rough neighborhood, than guns will be required. However, if someone came to my door and they were thirsty and starving, I wouldn't shove a gun in their face. If they were coming to rob me, than I would. Each local community should have a disaster plan and further out from that, each town, each county, each state, etc. Each "zone" should cover the outer, because each entity can't stand on it's own. So saying that most Americans aren't prepared is not the answer, ultimately it's up to the communities and governments to provide assistance within reason.
He totally lost all credibility when he said he is worrying about nuclear power plant meltdowns. Three Mile Island WAS a meltdown. Casualties: 0.
There is no preparing for the next Yellowstone supervolcano eruption. The scale of such an event is impossible for most people to imagine. The last supervolcanic eruption, Toba, around 70,000 years ago, is thought to have reduced the human population on the planet to under 10,000 individuals. The next time Yellowstone goes off it will be decades before the climate settles down again.
Your observation is correct in that for some reason Americans will stock up on firearms before they will stock up on other survival needs. The firearms are not for hunting but to keep the 2 legged rats in control. The mentality that pervades my country is that if the government (police or military) are not pointing guns at us to keep us in control then the otherwise good people turn bad and will loot, steal and kill. The problem with gun ownership is that most people are not prepared to shoot to kill or live with the consequences. A large number of people are killed with their own guns due to that moment of hesitation. I have been through one disaster, an earthquake, and saw people worked together to help put out fires, rescue trapped people and in a few cases help direct traffic. There will be people who will take advantage of the situation and loot things that are useless for survival; but for the most part people will more likely unite to help each other.
I bet I'm further away from Yellowstone when it goes up, than you are. The clue's in my sign-in name - my surname is "Jones" not "Jonesuk". Fascinating question though, we've been aware of the supervolcano for at least ten years, everyone agrees the threat's real, have there been any attempts to relieve the pressure? But otherwise, what is it with Americans and their need to have a bolt-hole in the woods?
I notice that there are frequent references to having guns as a an essential item for your survival kit. Even in a disaster situation , shooting people seems to be the American way.
THREE CHEERS for jtdavies and AtlantaTerry. You two must have been Scouts! And steve_jonesuk@..., you would do well to make GOOD friends with people like these two. They MIGHT be willing to help you save your sorry butt that you don't seem to care enough about to do anything to save it. I live just about a hundred miles from New Madrid, MO. Batteries, solar chargers, crank radio, gas generator, MULTIPLE firearms for both hunting and long and close range defence, assorted knives, brush clearing tools, etc. *WEG* >:)
To add to jridge's response, we are a country that profits from fear. Take the morning new's bad air quality warnings for example. Heck, take the morning news for example; the threat of rain is a golden egg for airtime. I get the sense that Americans are desensitized to most fear-mongering. You ask, "Are you ready for the next mega- disaster?" We answer with a sigh, "No, what do I need to buy now?"
Judging by most of the responses, most people will not be ready because they are not capable of figuring out what they will need. This is not laziness but complacency. A few mention that in a disaster that people will steal your supplies; most people will help each other and only a few will steal supplies in the first few days. There are a few responses that show that the way to survive is to be prepared just a little bit and to make plans. It is impossible to have a perfect plan or to have everything needed. For those who do not feel that preparation is important, think of it as evolution in action when things do happen.
While I agree it is a mentality issue, I don't think a survivalist mentality is what's required. One defining characteristic of Americans to the outside world is that they are very pidgeon-holed in the functions they'll fulfill. They have FEMA to supply emergency provisions, so no-one else does it. A defining characteristic of those who survive disasters is that everyone does whatever it takes. In Australia, Prince Charles was "attacked" in 1994 with a starter pistol (it turned out). Several people jumped the attacker, including an Australian politician. If you said that of an American politician, no one would believe it, not due to a lack of courage, but because it's someone else's job to do that. America's early pioneers had this attitude, and unfortunately it seems to have been lost over time. My $0.02 worth.
Americans have been prepared for anything in the past, so cosmicfoole is living up to his name. The ones who were prepared were primarily early pioneers who brought what they needed and made everythign else while living off the land. I'd be happy if all americans stockpiled 1 months worth of supplies: food, water, fuel, hygiene, first aid+, clothing, repair materials. By the way, hygiene and food supplies should be rotated out and replaced before they become outdated. I find that stockpiling $500 worth and donating that yearly to the local food bank keeps my supplies fresh, helps those who need the help, and (if you keep your receipts) takes care of that tax deduction for charity at the end of the year. 3 months supplies is better. If you're going to survive a world-wide catastrophic event, you need at least a year's worth, plus viable seeds, farming and building supplies. Some disasters require migration: coastal subsidence, super tsunami, invasions, volcanic eruptions, etc. Unfortunately, migration and long-term survival supplies don't go well together.
Americans have never been "prepared" for anything, proven by history, so why would you expect an about face? Len Norris, email@example.com
Actually, I must agree with the main premise- we don't want to think about it. Want a three day supply? Then think what you need 3 days ahead and maintain that cushion. Refill perscriptions three day head of being completely out - most insurance plans will let you do that, and maybe keep sliding until your 15 days ahead.For other things, use your imagination. Want to store emergency water? Use plastic pop bottles. Instead of throwing them out or recycling, rinse them out and fill. Rotate them every so often by watering your plants. If you can afford an extra propane tank, keep one handy, and switch it out when your in use one is empty, and refill that one. Buy a load of batteries in bulk and use them in your regular devices. The realty is - in most major disatsers, it will take time for government and nonbgovernment relief agencies to assemble the necessary manpower and move it. If theoads are blocked, getting relief will take longer. And yes, think about it first.
Are you willing to kill your neighbors to keep them from your stocked goods? Most people are not, therefore they do not bother stocking up (knowing that their stupid neighbors certainly will not have stocked up). If one family out of 4 were to stock up (which would be an extremely high percentage), then that 3 days worth of goods wouldn't last even 1 day, sharing it with the 3 unstocked families. So the only rational disaster plan is to run away from the disaster area.
A while ago National Geographic Magazine had a cover story about the fact that a huge volcano under Yellowstone Park is growing. It could explode tomorrow, next month or a thousand years from now. No one knows. But if it does explode soon we certainly are not prepared for the immediate aftermath nor the years of worldwide year long winters which will so darken the atmosphere all crops will fail. Other than building an underground shelter in Shepherdstown for high level government officials, their families and minions to live for 10 years what are we going to do? What can we do? Me? I am stocking my basement with canned food, can openers, water filters and (of course) guns and ammo.
I have worked the disasters in Louisiana and Mississippi following Katrina, and in the wake of the flooding in Iowa in 2008. Those that were prepared (not just individuals but as Iowa showed graphically, communities) fared better. Prepared communities made a particular difference in helping folks get back on their feet. Preparation does not prevent, and you cannot prepare for everything, but it is way ahead of being pure victim. Most valuable? Copies of insurance forms, deeds, financial records, licenses and certifiicates, medical records, things needed to deal with the bureaucracy while rebuilding. Don't think only of the first few days, but of the years to rebuild.
Problem is, where do you keep your disaster supplies? If they're in vulnerable or unreachable location(s), they're meaningless. And what about your dependents -- from human to pets? Difficult issues -- think about them.
We don't prepare because its not rational. American's understand well, intuitively even, competitive economics. Its the Invisible Hand. Compare the cost / benefit of everyone everywhere preparing and few disasters occur in a few places. Sure some more will die and be hurt but the greater good will be served in that limited resources are being spent on keeping others / more alive and feeling better.
I believe that many are not prepared because of a) denial..it won't happen here like that, b) too preoccupied with the struggle of daily life, bills, rents, and etc. 3) lack of money for long term preparedness however, when I speak with people, I've always told them 'when you go to the store, buy $5 worth of something to put away'. You'd be surprised at how much you could amass with just $5.
There was a group of people who went to Louisiana and Alabama to help with the aftermath of Katrina. One of them said that those who prepared a little bit were able to get through the crisis better than those who did nothing. He recommended keeping at least half a tank of gas in the car at all times; half a tank will get you out of a disaster area better than a car with a quarter tank. I have assembled a grab and go kit with the goal of surviving the roughly 72 hours before any help can be expected to arrive. I live in an earthquake prone area and being able to have some things like water purification tablets and emergency rations will help. The best advice given is to form a small network with family and friends and work out ways to help each other and to determine locations to regroup.
Why don't you mention guns and being trained on shooting them? A stockpile of supplies will do you no good if someone bigger than you wants your stuff.
Even if you are prepared, to what end? If you are living on the fault line you die anyhow. America is the doom nation! We war on every problem! Our TV advertising is filled with commercials about diseases you will probably never get. Recommendations for drugs you can't prescribe. Bumper stickers rail about issues that you can't identify. Like "real fish don't eat pellets". Positive thinking is a proven fact. Statistics in all fields of endeavor prove that you get more with a positive attitude. I suppose you could argue that planning for a disaster is positive thinking about surviving it. But focusing on the disaster seems counter productive. Like a department of war: what is the result more and more war. All these agencies have to prove that they are important and provide these inert studies to bolster their budget. Consider the birds in the sky. They have no means, they have no fear, they are provided for. So much goes right every day that to dwell on this is like considering that the sun won't rise. If you are prepared for a disaster how long will your preparation last before you are living off the land. Where will you run, and hide from the unknown?
We can take some wisdom from the Mormon Church. They have been ready for decades......just Google and find great information!
Being the President and Co-founder of the Telework Coalition, the nations leading telework educational and advocacy organization, I frequently address groups in the matter of what we like to call disaster avoidance and I concur with what Mr. Redlener says. Both individuals and organizations talk about being prepared for a 'big one' but so few are it's alarming. I have been told by very well informed people that the occurance of a "Mega Disaster" is a when, not an if. I hope you can jolt at least a small part of the population to wake up to this situation. Chuck Wilsker President & CEO The Telework Coalition Member: Broadband for America Adoption Advisory Board Digital Energy Solutions Campaign Set America Free Coalition Our Energy Policy Foundation Mobility Choice Coalition G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICT Association of Contingency Planners The Internet Society
I'm very disappointed that the article barely addresses or gives links to information as to what kinds of steps readers specifically should be undertaking. What a gross oversight. I guess we're all supposed to buy the book.