Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In Consideration of the Unanticipated Varieties of Disaster

People who lived in this neighborhood likely could just not imagined something which has simply never happened there before, otherwise, they would have filled their cars Friday and driven as far from here as they could.

     I spend a fair amount of my time describing and passing along specific actions families can take in order to prepare for, and cope with natural and man-made disasters.  There is certainly a lot that families and individuals can do in order to plan for such events.  We can have emergency kits assembled and ready. We can have Evacuation Notebooks structured and assembled so that when we are overwhelmed, we have quick access to a plan we custom made for ourselves when we had a calmer, cooler head and carefully considered our strategy.  We can prepare our children for possibilities, and tell them the truth, which is that whatever happens, you have a plan, and you will move Heaven and Earth to keep them safe.  I will even go as far to say that we can make MOST disasters safer for us, and we can go a long way through advance planning to keep those with medical issues alive through a true disaster.
              However, I feel the need here to address the "No Win Situation" or the "Worst Case Scenario".   Most of the time when disasters occur, there is some warning.  There often IS time to grab your Evacuation Notebook, skim your personalized plan, make a decision as to whether you should shelter-in-place or evacuate your home. Then, grab your Evacuation Medical Kit adding any prescription meds, nebulizers or any other equipment your family uses medically, grab your pets and their bag, and then flee.  Your document bag should also be ready to go.  Many people find locking all of these things in one closet is helpful and allows them to be updated quickly periodically.
              Sometimes though, there is not time for adequate preparation.  Sometimes an aspect of a certain disaster occurs in a manner that we did not anticipate.  Sometimes, something we never dreamed would happen, actually does.  Sometimes, there is the true, "Worst Case Scenario" where we are lucky to escape with our lives.   Last week, I was visiting an area in which a large reservoir sat above a region of homes below.  I was not pleased with the engineering of such a thing.  It seemed unwise to me to build homes below such a vast water reserve.  If this reservoir ever ruptures as a result of unprecedented rains, a direct tornado hit, or even seismic activity, the people below will die, as there will likely be insufficient time to evacuate, at least close to the reservoir itself.    There are predictable potential no win situations.   Living below the reservoir is one of those.  There are others which could not easily be anticipated.  The death of my twelve year old son when I could do CPR, but had no AED was one of those.  We had no reason to know we needed to have an AED in our home.  His first spontaneous heart rhythm disturbance, was simply his last. He had no prior medical history of any kind which suggested such a problem.
              So, the take away from this post should be, a commitment to do whatever we can to anticipate reasonable natural and man-made disasters which could befall us in whatever location we choose to live. There is much we can do in terms of risk management, and meeting those risks head on.   However, when we do reach the event for which we could not fully plan, or when we meet someone who has, lets provide to them understanding and assistance when we can, rather than judgement for a failure to anticipate such a thing.  Even bright people can linger in normalcy bias long enough to waste critical moments in advance of an evacuation. Lets keep calm heads, and provide understanding to those survivors who for whatever reason were caught in a cosmic surprise.

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