Other than evoking our sympathy and generosity, the earthquake/ tsunami/nuclear disaster in Japan should be pinging our collective consciousness about our own level of preparedness for natural and man-made disasters.
Just to recap, in the last two years alone, our county has been declared a federal disaster area three times, we’ve sustained two tornadoes and experienced a major explosion in the heart of Stanford. Despite the large amount of property damage done by floods, ice, wind and fire, the cost to human life has been smaller than we could have ever expected and, once the crises passed, we quickly returned to business as usual and that’s not good.
earthquake or proceeding nuclear near-meltdown, imagine you had 15 minutes warning that a disaster of tsunami proportion like the one in Japan was heading your way. What would you do? What would you grab, who would you call and where would you go? What would you do if you were at home, church or work? What if the kids were at school? Tough questions, and you can make yourself nuts (ask me) what-iffing various scenarios to death, but if you think a major disaster couldn’t happen here, think again.
We live less than 30 miles from one of the largest concentrations of chemical and biological weapons in the United States, and an accident or incident there could spread an airborne tsunami of poison our way within hours. Prevailing winds in the area typically don’t blow here from Richmond, the home of the Bluegrass Army Depot, but their preparedness planners have run models that show how, given the right weather conditions a plume of poisonous gas could stream across Lincoln and flow all the way to the Tennessee border.
A more likely scenario however, would be a major earthquake on the New Madrid Fault that crosses five state lines and the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. This fault moves 20 times a month, but hasn’t had a major quake for 100 years, but when it does, it will be a big one. Lincoln County would suffer damage, but not be destroyed, but major cities like Memphis and St. Louis along the fault could be, which means one thing; help wouldn’t be coming this way any time soon.
So what should you do? First, take the advice of Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic!” Once breathing and reason is restored, you should follow the advice of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and get informed, make a plan and prepare.
Getting informed is simple. Examine the threats to our area and put them in order of likelihood. Tornadoes and ice storms are likely, wildfire and earthquakes less so. Fortunately, typical preparations for disasters tend to work in most situations, and that should be the basis of your plan.
The basics of a plan are simple. In case of emergency, how will you contact family members? How will you leave if you have to evacuate, and where will you go? How will you take care of elderly or special needs family members? How about pets and livestock? How will you store enough food, water and medication to get you through? Do you know how to shut off the utilities to your house or business?
If it seems like you’re opening a can of worms when you start asking these questions, don’t be discouraged.
There are some good resources available, particularly FEMA’s website, that walk you through preparing a basic plan for your family or business.
Once your plan is complete, you can begin preparing, and this is actually the fun part. If you take the advice of some preppers, all you need is a cache of guns, ammunition and gold Krugerrands buried in your yard, but its best to steer clear of the deranged and the delusional and focus on the basics, food, water, medications, shelter and transportation.
At a minimum, you should always have three days of the above on hand at all time, but the sweet spot for basic preparations is about 21 days.
Three weeks of supplies sounds like an expensive proposition, but you don’t need to buy it all at once. If you spend only ten dollars a week on preparations, you can easily assemble a three week supply in less than six months, and six months is a good target. September is National Preparedness Month and if you’ve never even thought of this subject,t it is a good target to set for you and your family to be prepared for whatever may come.
In subsequent weeks, The Interior Journal will be publishing a list titled, “21 Weeks to Preparedness.” It is a low cost, week-by-week guide of what to buy to get yourself ready for the next ice storm, tornado, earthquake or zombie uprising.
Take a long look at the deprivation the Japanese are enduring, or better yet, the ongoing deprivation one year after the earthquake in Haiti as a warning to all of us. It is time to prepare.
Are you prepared?
Are you prepared?