Sunday, March 13, 2011

Disaster preparedness must be a priority!

Have you seen the photos and video from Japan? Have you heard about the millions of dollars in damages in Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast?

What would you do if you had 30 seconds warning that disaster was about to strike?

Let's look at the disasters that have unfolded over the past few days:
  • Earthquakes: more than one, plus violent aftershocks
  • Tsunami: Affecting at least two continents
  • Nuclear Plant Explosions: Radiation dangers plus the threat of a meltdown
  • Freezing Temperatures: Japan is experiencing winter weather while millions are without power
  • Fire: Damaged infrastructures are causing fires and explosions
Any one of these situations is bad enough on its own. Together, they are catastrophic.

I haven't thought much about tsunamis where I live, but take a look at the map. I live inside the area marked in orange. As you can see, we're surrounded on three sides by large bodies of water. I never realized how close our home is to the bays and bayous.

A visit to the U.S. Geological Survey website shows me that a 5.8 quake occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in September 2006. It was centered several hundred miles south southeast of my home. This past weekend, a small quake took place in Alabama, about 300 miles north of where I live.

All those little spots on the map at right are the epicenters of earthquakes over the past week. You can see the cluster of events in California and Alaska. Wow. Visit the USGS site for updated information on recent seismic activity and for historic reports on your state. Every state has had at least one quake reported. It may have been a hundred years since the last one, but the history is there.

The world seems so uncertain right now. We have economic problems, civil unrest, religious strife, and so many disasters, both natural and man-made.

Take the time to prepare for the worst. If you never need to use your emergency supplies or the map of your evacuation route, great. Terrific. But which would be worst: preparing a disaster plan and emergency kit and never needing it or finding yourself in the midst of a calamity with no supplies, no plan, and no idea where you can get help?

I'd rather be prepared than unprepared. Wouldn't you?

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