Are You Guilty of Using Disaster Denial Excuses?
September is National Preparedness Month. Are you prepared if disaster strikes? The introduction of Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America reveals four excuses people use for why they’re not prepared during a crisis.
What, Me Worry?
There is no dependence that can be sure,but a dependence upon one’s self.
More than 2 million families experience some sort of disaster or major emergency every year! These incidences range from major events that simultaneously affect thousands of people (9/11/2001 and Hurricane Katrina) to individual catastrophes (home fires and flooding). Yet, less than half the families in America have taken even a single step to prepare themselves for such misfortunes.
We all know disasters can and do hit. And, one could strike you and your family. Crises’ probabilities and proven track records generate an underlying constant awareness; the constant low-level hum in the background of our lives that become a source of worry and stress. Why do we not act? How is it we don’t prepare for emergencies? Those who ignore the need to prepare give several reasons, including:
These ‘reasons’ were confirmed in a survey of Americans conducted by the Persuadable Research Corporation:
- 50% of respondents believe they are unprepared for a disaster;
- When asked in further detail why not,
- 38% said preparing for a disaster never crossed their mind,
- 48% said they lacked the money to prepare and
- 15% said they did not have time;
- 20% of those surveyed said they intended to “just wing it” during a disaster.
Of the minority who are prepared,
- 82% said they had a previous brush with a disaster and are now ready to act in the event of another;
- 27% of those who were prepared for a disaster said they did it because they needed to care for other family members like children or elderly parents.
When asked whether the government would be able to provide assistance in the event of an emergency,
- 28% were uncertain about the government’s response;
- 30% were convinced the government was incapable of assisting.
These survey results confirm not only a lack of preparedness, but also reflect a cavalier attitude and flat-out denial of both unforeseen and predictable disturbances… what we refer to as the “What, me worry?” syndrome. This attitude pervades, even though many of us already understand that the government would be unable to provide assistance immediately in the event of an emergency. Isn’t it time for some ‘attitude adjustment’?
Let’s take a quick look at each of these excuses, one by one. If you subscribe to any of them, we hope to change your mind.
“What’s the Point?”
While we all admit we should be prepared for a disaster, to some degree at least, we also acknowledge there is no way to be ready for every eventuality. This discouraging thought tends to get generalized into thinking there’s no point in doing any preparation at all. Switch gears now. In a more positive light, we can prepare for many emergencies. Here’s how:
- Water – Supply can be cut off without warning. So, fill several plastic gallon containers with water and store them under the sink. While you’re at it, put additional containers in the trunk of each car.
Time to Prepare: Low
Potential Benefit: High
- Food – Granted, food will do you no good if your home is destroyed, but it will help in most other disasters.
Time to Prepare: Low
Potential Benefit: High
- Evacuation Plan – Often you don’t know what kind of disaster to expect, so you can’t predict if you will stay put or evacuate. Having a plan will facilitate making logical and calm decisions.
Time to Prepare: Low
Potential Benefit: High
In summary, you really can do many things to make a significant and positive difference for you and your family before a disaster is upon you. As with many of the suggestions, they involve minimal effort, time and money. It’s a matter of changing your attitude and outlook…from leaving matters to chance to taking control.
“It’s Too Expensive!”
Think large. Act small. When shifting our focus to preparing for a disaster, we unnecessarily pressure ourselves right away. This all-or-nothing approach backfires because we end up doing nothing! However, if we approach preparation more constructively and think in terms of manageable pieces, anyone can afford to prepare, regardless of budget. Don’t feel ineffective if you don’t have enough money to buy a generator right now or have a place for one. Feel empowered by having a couple of flashlights (and fresh batteries) on hand and some long-burning candles. Remember- if you own a car it can be used as a generator, as long as it has gas in the tank and you have an inverter (converts your car’s DC current to AC) that plugs in. Other easily affordable items:
- Plastic soda, water and similar containers for water storage. Bottles acquired in your normal shopping should be thoroughly rinsed out, filled with tap water and stashed away.
- Extra rations of peanut butter, protein bars, canned vegetables or dry cereal. These non-perishables can be a part of your emergency kit for a long time before they must be replaced. Remember to have a manual can opener handy!
Sure, you can spend a lot of money preparing for a disaster, but it’s not necessary. Many of the most basic critical supplies can be at the ready very economically, often for as little as $30 to $50.
“It Takes Too Much Time”
This is another misconception, but don’t get wrapped up in the big picture. Rather, break down the problem into reasonable chunks of time and energy. No, you won’t get completely prepared today or even next week. Focus instead on the issue at hand; on what you can make happen…on those small individual motions that are part of the larger process. You will be there soon enough.
- Decide where you’re going to keep your emergency flashlights and candles. It can be in any cool, dark place, just so you and your family know where to look when the lights go out.
Time required: seconds
- Add candles, waterproof matches, a flashlight or two and extra batteries to your next shopping trip.
Time required: less than 5 minutes
- Schedule a time with your family to have a conversation about preparing for an emergency. An hour or so over dinner can mean the difference between chaos and calm during a disaster.
Time required: 60–90 minutes
“I Don’t Know What to Do”
While you undoubtedly don’t know everything about preparing for a disaster, give yourself a little credit! Even without this book, you probably already possess the following basic knowledge:
- Food and water are critical. Okay: learn how much you actually need and the details of the long-term storage of each.
- Roads become parking lots in large-scale emergencies. So: learn to protect yourself and ride out the disaster at home (outside of a mandatory evacuation, of course).
- At times, evacuation is mandatory. No problem: learn the basics of an orderly exodus to safety.
Preparing for disaster doesn’t require a lot of study or survival expertise. It is hands-on and pre-active. In fact, most disaster preparedness is common sense.
Preparing for Disaster Reduces Anxiety
Like it or not, disasters are a natural part of living. Hardly a day goes by that you don’t hear about some sort of calamity befalling fellow citizens. The media invites and encourages worry and stress. In fact, because you are so bombarded with “fear messaging,” you just shut out any threat that could apply to you. You consciously avoid thinking about any potential harm that could come to you or your loved ones, despite the nonstop stream of gloom and doom. But the uneasiness is there!
Well, with some structured preparation you can start reversing course today and turn your energy and misguided helplessness into confidence. Imagine how you would feel right now if you were fully prepared for a disaster; your plans are in place, they’ve been updated during the last six months, critical supplies are within easy reach and you know what to do. You’d be feeling confident, right?
It’s Up To You
There’s simply no way around it, preparing for a disaster is your responsibility. Although the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, your state government and your local government all plan to help in a disaster, the truth is you can’t count on them being where you need them when you need them. The same is true for your power company, land line, cell phone company, internet provider, water company, or even private agencies like the Red Cross.
Each of the above entities works hard to solve problems when disaster strikes, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to address your particular problems in a timely fashion. By default, you are your own first responder…so you need to take charge now! The sooner you start the better, and we’ve made it easy for you.
The Year Ahead
What may not seem obvious about the range and depth of possible disasters is that you prepare for them in roughly the same way. The differences that should be considered are often regional or geographic in scope. For example, the West Coast of the United States is more likely to experience a major earthquake while people living in Kansas are susceptible to yearly tornado seasons. But regardless of location or disaster, you’ll need:
- Food and water
- Family schedule and contact information
- Flashlights, batteries, candles, matches and a battery-operated radio
- A decision-maker and strategy for where to weather the disaster
Outline Our technique for getting prepared for a disaster involves 12 easy steps.
Using the strategies set forth below, you can be ready in 12 months through a series of monthly preparations with each step building upon the other. Each of the following chapters of this book details one step.
1. Getting Started: The Conversation
2. Identify Your Risks
3. Communicable Illness
4. Your Contacts
5. Your Family Communication Plan
6. Should You Go?
7. Should You Stay?
8. Planning for Your Pets
9. Your Evacuation Plan
10. Medical History
11. Protecting Your Identity and Financial Interests
12. If Disaster Strikes While Traveling
Preparing for a Disaster at the Workplace
Ensuring the safety of family and loved ones always trumps work. Make sure you are first prepared at home before focusing on the workplace. Once a plan is established, however, take necessary steps to plan in the office.
Every employer should have a business continuity plan (a contingency plan for how they will continue to provide their services in the face of a major disruption) and emergency and workplace violence plans. Unfortunately, many employers are in “disaster denial,” too, so begin the process by asking what emergency contingency plans they have adopted.
If your employer has an emergency plan in place, ask specifically:
- What are you expected to do if your work location is damaged and/or closed?
- What plans have been made if your workplace has to be evacuated?
- How do you contact your employer during an emergency?
- How do you find out if and when it’s okay to come back to work?
- If your place of employment has a crisis communication plan, get a copy and read it. Even if the company does not occasionally conduct unannounced drills, you’ll know how you fit in.
- Keep an extra evacuation kit at work either in a designated locker, desk drawer or a place of storage approved by your employer.
If you can get all your questions answered, all you have to do is co-ordinate your employer’s disaster plan with your Personal Preaction™ Plan. If, on the other hand, you discover they haven’t made any plans or the plans they do have are sketchy, offer to help them develop it more fully. With the information in this book you are equipped to address many possible threats. Combining your questions with the information you have gathered might just be all that’s necessary to get the ball rolling. More business planning resources can be found at www.firestorm.com.
Disasters happen, they always have and they always will. When they do, be your own first responder. We know you can do it and Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America will show you how!
Ensure you are prepared both at home and the workplace by downloading our free book. Many companies have used Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America as a promotional tool/gift for their clients, who in turn use the book to encourage their own employees to develop plans at home. In every crisis or disaster, family concerns override work commitments.
In addition, Firestorm has customized the Disaster Ready People book for several companies, utilizing their corporate logo on the cover and a foreword written by their CEO.
Get your free ebook here, and share with friends in honor of National Preparedness Month!