“If it is to be, it is up to me.” – William H. Johnsen
It can’t be stated often enough; the responsibility for preparing for disaster is yours alone. This becomes clear if you think about what actually happens in a disaster. Let’s look at a couple of strictly local scenarios that help demonstrate this point.
What happens if a fire breaks out in your kitchen? If it’s a grease fire, water will only make it spread. You call 911 and help is on the way. But, depending on where you live, that help may take from 10 minutes to over an hour to arrive. Can you begin to imagine the amazing amount of damage your home could suffer in just 10 minutes?
The following statistics attest to the catastrophic impact of fires:
Fire Facts (FEMA 2004)
- 3,900 civilians lost their lives as the result of fire
- 17,785 civilians were injured as the result of fire
- 117 firefighters were killed while on duty
- Fire killed more Americans than all natural disasters combined
- 83% of all civilian fire deaths occurred in residences
- No fewer than 1.6 million fires were reported (many others went unreported, causing additional injuries and property losses)
- Direct property loss due to fires was estimated at $9.8 Billion with an estimated $714 million in property damage attributed to intentionally set structure fires
- An estimated 36,500 intentionally set structure fires resulted in 320 civilian deaths
If you have a fire extinguisher, and know how to use it, you are in control of the situation. An extinguisher enables you to put out the flame before the fire trucks arrive. Without it, your best bet is to leave the house and wait for the arrival of the fire department.
What’s preventing you from getting a today to protect against kitchen fires?
Water Main Breaks
Suppose a major water line in your community breaks. Almost immediately, smaller water lines leading off the main will lose pressure which will affect homes and businesses along those lines. The water company will probably notice the drop in pressure right away, but if the broken main is deep in the ground, they may have no idea where the break has actually occurred. When water begins to surface near the site of the leak, the first response will be to turn off water upstream, leaving even more homes and businesses without water.
After the break is located it may take an hour, or as long as half a day, to figure out how to fix the problem. Meanwhile, it may take several hours or a full day to get an accurate report on when water will flow again. Unfortunately, if you live below the location of the shut-off, all you will be getting from your water pipes is air.
As a situation like this develops people naturally begin rushing to buy bottled water. As a consequence, supermarkets and convenience stores will quickly sell out of their entire stock of water. In this scenario, if it were to take more than a day to get water flowing again, your city or town may have to organize water deliveries from outside your area. This effort would take time, and if successful, the additional water would only dribble in at first. The increased demand for water would naturally cause the cost of water to increase.
You are in control, however, when you have enough water stored for yourself and your family to get along for several days. You would be able to cook, drink, bathe, and even do some light clean-up.
What’s preventing you from storing today to guard against being stranded without it?
*** These two real examples happen every day. Fires start in kitchens and water lines break. Predictable problems can delay the arrival of help, but if you are prepared with the right kind of fire extinguisher or a supply of stored water, both recoverable situations become nothing more than minor nuisances. With a little bit of preparation you, the potential victim, become your own first responder. ***