EDITORIAL

Planning for Emergencies

T

he recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami have changed a lot of people’s minds about their needs for emergency plans. Spurring added concern are the many power outages experienced throughout the U.S. over the last year, especially owing to severe weather. Some of these have been long-term. Even last week in Marin, California (March 27th) power outages affected about 50% of the entire county for the better part of an afternoon. No specific cause was revealed. But of course, California’s main disaster concern is earthquakes (both the literal and the metaphorical, by way of its staggering debt). As of April 1, 2011 in Japan, with the official death toll at 11,600 and an additional 16,000 missing, power outages and disruptions in the food supply continue to disturb the economy, with 190,000 still housed in temporary shelters. The emergencies could last for many months, with the continued impact felt for years.

U.S. national security, public health, police, and fire personnel are reviewing their own emergency plans should such a one-two punch — earthquake, tsunami — occur in America, or any of the other anticipated crises. According to FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), now a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, it is every citizen’s responsibility to plan for emergencies. What does that entail, you may be asking …?

According to FEMA’s “Plan for Emergencies”, your family plan should address the following:

  • Escape routes
  • Evacuation plans
  • Family communications
  • Utility shut-off and safety
  • Insurance and vital records
  • Special needs
  • Care for pets: Information for pet owners
  • Care for livestock: Information for livestock owners
  • Safety skills

Some of these may be esoteric, but the absence of others renders the FEMA up-front list significantly inadequate. You need to dig deeper to get to those, and they don’t include timeline assessments nor meaningful amounts. For example, in emergencies that may arise from earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, terrorism, bombs, hygiene epidemics, and pandemic flu, not to mention a black swan, emergency supplies could be critical. These should include:

  • Emergency Food, several months of storage stable foods
  • Emergency Water (several months)
  • Supplements (several months)
  • Lights and Radios
  • First Aid
  • Alternative source of heats (fireplace, generator) along with fuel
  • Shelter
  • Sanitation
  • Clothing and bedding
  • Tools

Some of the recent ice-storms have resulted in loss of electricity for 1 week or more. Also, in the middle of an energy crisis, the above emergency provisions are particularly important. Because the loss of a power-generating plant could be devastating to a great portion of the country due to the inter-dependence of the power grid.

We know that in the supplement arena, very few people stockpile the quantities necessary to optimize their health during a crisis. In a widespread emergency, shipping could be disrupted for an extended period of time. But Americans are resilient, and the return to normality will prevail. A word to the wise is sufficient. Prepare!

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