Top Twelve Myths of Disaster Preparedness

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It is our responsibility to make sure we are prepared for the unexpected. Not the citie’s, not the state’s, not the government’s. They provide amazing services to help in the event of an emergency, and we should all be very grateful for the men and women that put their life on the line to serve and protect, but when it comes down to it the minutes before emergency services arrive could mean the life and death of a friend or loved one. Good news is that it doesn’t take much to be prepared; try certified online training in CPR or first aid, and making sure you have the proper first aid tools nearby.

Here’s an excerpt from Disaster Prep 101 by Paul Purcell on the “Disaster Dozen” myths, the top twelve myths of disaster preparedness:

1. “If something happens all I have to do is call 911.”

Help can only go so far, or be there so quickly. Security, like charity, begins at home and the responsibility for your family’s safety rests on your shoulders. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t call for help when it’s truly needed, it’s to remind you that you may be on your own for while, especially if the situation is an expansive, or severe one.

2. “All I need is a 72-hour kit with a flashlight, first aid kit, some food and water, and a radio.”

We’re not sure where the “72 hour” figure came from, but it’s an extremely minimal amount of time and not very realistic. A more practical goal is to be self-sufficient for a minimum of 2 weeks (preferably 4 weeks). Why 2 weeks? As bad as Katrina was, there are numerous disaster and terrorism scenarios that could see substantially more damage, and a disruption of local services for three weeks or more. Also, many biological scenarios may see a 2-week quarantine. Regarding supplies and equipment, avoid the “one-size-fits-all simpleton lists” and customize yours to your family’s unique threats, needs, and assets. (See http://www.1800PREPARE.com.)

3. “My insurance policy will take care of everything.”

SWAT teams of insurance agents aren’t going to instantly rebuild your life like on TV. Insurance companies will be far more concerned about their own bottom line than yours. In fact, many insurance companies are rewriting policies to redefine some rather common terrorism or disaster related incidents as being excluded and not coverable. Check your policies closely!

4. “Good preparedness is too expensive and too complicated.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. The problem is, we haven’t made preparedness a part of our overall education. We get more preparedness info on an airline flight than we get as citizens. Most of us aren’t taught that there are literally thousands of subtle, simple, and economical things we can do to drastically improve our emergency readiness. The notion that it might be expensive or complicated has come from companies that aggressively market high-priced unnecessary gear.

5. “We can only form a neighborhood group through FEMA, the Red Cross, or local Law Enforcement.”

Neighbor helping neighbor is one of our highest civic duties. No one regulates this and you don’t have to get anyone’s permission to coordinate your safety with others. Working with these groups is rather advantageous, but not required.

6. “In a ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ terrorist attack, we’re all dead anyway.”

“WMDs” might kill larger numbers of people, but that doesn’t mean widespread destruction is a guaranteed thing. In fact, for widespread destruction, a top-grade WMD must be expertly and precisely applied under ideal conditions. This does not mean that WMDs are to be ignored or that they’re nothing to fear, it’s just that “Mass Destruction” does NOT mean “Total Destruction” at all.

7. “Nothing like that could ever happen here.”

Though some areas are more prone to certain types of disasters, say earthquakes in California, or terror attacks in New York, no area on earth is completely immune. Too, with as much as people travel, you might travel somewhere and wind up in a disaster you never thought about.

8. “All I have to worry about is my own family.”

Technically yes, but the more you’re able to care for your own family, the more you can and should help others.

9. “If preparedness were really important it would be taught in school.”

Preparedness really is that important, but schools only have so much time and budget to teach the things they already do. This is one of the many things we’re trying to change, but for now, you’re going to have to not only realize the importance of thorough emergency readiness, but to teach your family yourself.

10. “I can get free preparedness information on the Internet.”

Many free sources contain really good information. However, many, many of them are nothing more than a rehash of “72-hour kit” ideas, and contain nothing new or comprehensive. Also, it takes time and experience to filter the trash from the treasure. Worse, some of these free sites have “information” that could actually cause more problems than they cure.

11. “Full preparedness means I have to get a lot of guns and be a ‘Survivalist.”

While personal security and family safety are valid concerns, the vast majority of people around you will not be a threat. In fact, though looters gained a lot of media attention after Katrina, there were far more numerous stories of heroism. We suggest you balance your personal security needs with your desire to help those around you and strive to reach the best of both worlds.

12. “If something really bad happens, NO one will help.”

There’s no such thing as “no one helping.” However, the best thing people can do to is to prepare their families so they need as little outside help as possible. There’s always someone needier than you and the more prepared you are, the more you free up assistance resources so they can help those less fortunate.

1. “If something happens all I have to do is call 911.”
Help can only go so far, or be there so quickly. Security, like charity, begins at home and the responsibility for your family’s safety rests on your shoulders. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t call for help when it’s truly needed, it’s to remind you that you may be on your own for while, especially if the situation is an expansive, or severe one.
2. “All I need is a 72-hour kit with a flashlight, first aid kit, some food and water, and a radio.”
We’re not sure where the “72 hour” figure came from, but it’s an extremely minimal amount of time and not very realistic. A more practical goal is to be self-sufficient for a minimum of 2 weeks (preferably 4 weeks). Why 2 weeks? As bad as Katrina was, there are numerous disaster and terrorism scenarios that could see substantially more damage, and a disruption of local services for three weeks or more. Also, many biological scenarios may see a 2-week quarantine. Regarding supplies and equipment, avoid the “one-size-fits-all simpleton lists” and customize yours to your family’s unique threats, needs, and assets. (See http://www.1800PREPARE.com.)
3. “My insurance policy will take care of everything.”
SWAT teams of insurance agents aren’t going to instantly rebuild your life like on TV. Insurance companies will be far more concerned about their own bottom line than yours. In fact, many insurance companies are rewriting policies to redefine some rather common terrorism or disaster related incidents as being excluded and not coverable. Check your policies closely!
4. “Good preparedness is too expensive and too complicated.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. The problem is, we haven’t made preparedness a part of our overall education. We get more preparedness info on an airline flight than we get as citizens. Most of us aren’t taught that there are literally thousands of subtle, simple, and economical things we can do to drastically improve our emergency readiness. The notion that it might be expensive or complicated has come from companies that aggressively market high-priced unnecessary gear.
5. “We can only form a neighborhood group through FEMA, the Red Cross, or local Law Enforcement.”
Neighbor helping neighbor is one of our highest civic duties. No one regulates this and you don’t have to get anyone’s permission to coordinate your safety with others. Working with these groups is rather advantageous, but not required.
6. “In a ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ terrorist attack, we’re all dead anyway.”
“WMDs” might kill larger numbers of people, but that doesn’t mean widespread destruction is a guaranteed thing. In fact, for widespread destruction, a top-grade WMD must be expertly and precisely applied under ideal conditions. This does not mean that WMDs are to be ignored or that they’re nothing to fear, it’s just that “Mass Destruction” does NOT mean “Total Destruction” at all.
7. “Nothing like that could ever happen here.”
Though some areas are more prone to certain types of disasters, say earthquakes in California, or terror attacks in New York, no area on earth is completely immune. Too, with as much as people travel, you might travel somewhere and wind up in a disaster you never thought about.
8. “All I have to worry about is my own family.”
Technically yes, but the more you’re able to care for your own family, the more you can and should help others.
9. “If preparedness were really important it would be taught in school.”
Preparedness really is that important, but schools only have so much time and budget to teach the things they already do. This is one of the many things we’re trying to change, but for now, you’re going to have to not only realize the importance of thorough emergency readiness, but to teach your family yourself.
10. “I can get free preparedness information on the Internet.”
Many free sources contain really good information. However, many, many of them are nothing more than a rehash of “72-hour kit” ideas, and contain nothing new or comprehensive. Also, it takes time and experience to filter the trash from the treasure. Worse, some of these free sites have “information” that could actually cause more problems than they cure.
11. “Full preparedness means I have to get a lot of guns and be a ‘Survivalist.”
While personal security and family safety are valid concerns, the vast majority of people around you will not be a threat. In fact, though looters gained a lot of media attention after Katrina, there were far more numerous stories of heroism. We suggest you balance your personal security needs with your desire to help those around you and strive to reach the best of both worlds.
12. “If something really bad happens, NO one will help.”
There’s no such thing as “no one helping.” However, the best thing people can do to is to prepare their families so they need as little outside help as possible. There’s always someone needier than you and the more prepared you are, the more you free up assistance resources so they can help those less fortunate1. “If something happens all I have to do is call 911.”
Help can only go so far, or be there so quickly. Security, like charity, begins at home and the responsibility for your family’s safety rests on your shoulders. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t call for help when it’s truly needed, it’s to remind you that you may be on your own for while, especially if the situation is an expansive, or severe one.
2. “All I need is a 72-hour kit with a flashlight, first aid kit, some food and water, and a radio.”
We’re not sure where the “72 hour” figure came from, but it’s an extremely minimal amount of time and not very realistic. A more practical goal is to be self-sufficient for a minimum of 2 weeks (preferably 4 weeks). Why 2 weeks? As bad as Katrina was, there are numerous disaster and terrorism scenarios that could see substantially more damage, and a disruption of local services for three weeks or more. Also, many biological scenarios may see a 2-week quarantine. Regarding supplies and equipment, avoid the “one-size-fits-all simpleton lists” and customize yours to your family’s unique threats, needs, and assets. (See http://www.1800PREPARE.com.)
3. “My insurance policy will take care of everything.”
SWAT teams of insurance agents aren’t going to instantly rebuild your life like on TV. Insurance companies will be far more concerned about their own bottom line than yours. In fact, many insurance companies are rewriting policies to redefine some rather common terrorism or disaster related incidents as being excluded and not coverable. Check your policies closely!
4. “Good preparedness is too expensive and too complicated.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. The problem is, we haven’t made preparedness a part of our overall education. We get more preparedness info on an airline flight than we get as citizens. Most of us aren’t taught that there are literally thousands of subtle, simple, and economical things we can do to drastically improve our emergency readiness. The notion that it might be expensive or complicated has come from companies that aggressively market high-priced unnecessary gear.
5. “We can only form a neighborhood group through FEMA, the Red Cross, or local Law Enforcement.”
Neighbor helping neighbor is one of our highest civic duties. No one regulates this and you don’t have to get anyone’s permission to coordinate your safety with others. Working with these groups is rather advantageous, but not required.
6. “In a ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ terrorist attack, we’re all dead anyway.”
“WMDs” might kill larger numbers of people, but that doesn’t mean widespread destruction is a guaranteed thing. In fact, for widespread destruction, a top-grade WMD must be expertly and precisely applied under ideal conditions. This does not mean that WMDs are to be ignored or that they’re nothing to fear, it’s just that “Mass Destruction” does NOT mean “Total Destruction” at all.
7. “Nothing like that could ever happen here.”
Though some areas are more prone to certain types of disasters, say earthquakes in California, or terror attacks in New York, no area on earth is completely immune. Too, with as much as people travel, you might travel somewhere and wind up in a disaster you never thought about.
8. “All I have to worry about is my own family.”
Technically yes, but the more you’re able to care for your own family, the more you can and should help others.
9. “If preparedness were really important it would be taught in school.”
Preparedness really is that important, but schools only have so much time and budget to teach the things they already do. This is one of the many things we’re trying to change, but for now, you’re going to have to not only realize the importance of thorough emergency readiness, but to teach your family yourself.
10. “I can get free preparedness information on the Internet.”
Many free sources contain really good information. However, many, many of them are nothing more than a rehash of “72-hour kit” ideas, and contain nothing new or comprehensive. Also, it takes time and experience to filter the trash from the treasure. Worse, some of these free sites have “information” that could actually cause more problems than they cure.
11. “Full preparedness means I have to get a lot of guns and be a ‘Survivalist.”
While personal security and family safety are valid concerns, the vast majority of people around you will not be a threat. In fact, though looters gained a lot of media attention after Katrina, there were far more numerous stories of heroism. We suggest you balance your personal security needs with your desire to help those around you and strive to reach the best of both worlds.
12. “If something really bad happens, NO one will help.”
There’s no such thing as “no one helping.” However, the best thing people can do to is to prepare their families so they need as little outside help as possible. There’s always someone needier than you and the more prepared you are, the more you free up assistance resources so they can help those less fortunate.
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2 Responses to Top Twelve Myths of Disaster Preparedness

  1. […] with a situation. For natural disasters and mass disasters, it is interesting to look at the Top 10 Myths that exist. While organizations such as National Safety Council and Ready.gov focus on providing […]

  2. Discoking says:

    Great Blog!……There’s always something here to make me laugh…Keep doing what ya do 🙂

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