In Search of Preparedness in America
We've seen devastating examples of natural disasters all over the world. Here in the United States the number and severity of storms has seemed to increase along with the the death toll. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is reporting that 2008 is shaping up to be one of the worst years for severe weather. Given the combination of terrorist attacks and natural disasters like Hurricanes Katrina as well as other storms around the world you'd think we (the public) would be paying attention. In fact, with all the dollars spent on domestic preparedness/homeland security, you'd think we would be ready for anything.
Don't believe everything you think.
A number of recent studies have indicated that the public is not prepared to provide self-help in times of crisis or natural disaster. In fact, the data suggests that much of our population is hanging onto the "it can't happen to me" mentality or, worse, is misinformed as to the potential life threatening situations that they may face.
From volcanoes in Hawaii to storms chewing up the mid-west, we've seen Mother Nature dish out some of the worst conditions since Katrina. Mainstream media has brought cataclysmic earthquakes in China into our living rooms and we watch with some disbelief...yet, it can't happen to us. The unfortunate fact is that "it" can and all the funding in the world can't buy a preparedness mindset.
Recent surveys indicate that our population is overwhelmingly complacent towards preparedness...lacking preparedness plans, survival food and water, or a basic awareness about the potential hazards in their region. Governments seem to have lacked the stamina to keep up with preparedness as well. Even those regions who have planed and practiced for disaster situations will find themselves fighting an uphill battle. One report cited 93% of Americans are not prepared to be self-sufficient for any crisis. How can any response community expect to assist a population where only 6-7% of a population has any capability to help themselves. Here's an everyday example: Your car is low on gas; what do you do? By looking at your cars gas gauge, you can estimate when and how much fuel you'll need. You simply drive to the gas station and fill up...that's taking care of yourself. What if we were to apply the "it won't happen to me" mindset or what I call Optimism Bias to the situation. Simply put, no need for a gas gauge...my car won't run out of fuel...and if it does, someone will come and fill it up for me.
The idea that "someone" will come to the rescue is a far cry from the Cold War mentality of bomb shelters and Civil Defense. Although rescue may come, it may not be for days. The idea is for every community to encourage residents to establish their own self sufficiency plan.