Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The above posting was made ten days before the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We Americans sometimes allow ourselves (often as a result of poor media coverage) to focus on remote threats (i.e., global warming) or silly responses to actual threats (i.e., the TSA's security theatre of grope-searching passengers while not checking the people that service the planes) while ignoring or underestimating serious, genuine threats.
So, what does this mean to you?
If you have read Warnings, you know I am extremely critical of the Federal Emergency Management Administration and nothing I have observed since I wrote the book (i.e., the 2010 Gulf oil spill) has modified my opinion. The idea that the government is going to be charging in like the calvary in the event of a major disaster is farfetched. You are going to have to be self-sufficient if the central U.S. New Madrid Fault lets loose or if a large Category 5 hurricane occurs, to take just two examples.
There are many books and web sites (examples here and here) that will help you get started. However, I question whether three days of supplies is enough. I would plan to have at least a week's (we do at our home) worth of food, water, toilet paper, and other vital supplies. Japan has the reputation of being the best prepared nation on earth, yet there are numerous credible reports that food and water (not to mention electricity) are gone five days after.
We live in an era of "just-in-time" deliveries, so you will not be able to count on the local store having adequate supplies of what you need. Besides, cash registers, the stores' lighting and gasoline pumps all run on electricity -- which likely will not be available.
Finally, it is time to restart our anti-missile defense system (the Obama administration stopped development) to protect against an EMP or conventional nuclear weapon, it is time to harden critical electronics against EMP and solar storms, etc., etc. Those are smart government policies and the response to Katrina shows we can't count on the government to be smart. But you can be smart. Get started today!
ADDITION, Why you can't count on stores in a major disaster from the New York Times:
In a nation where you can set your watch by a train’s arrival and a conductor apologizes for even a one-minute delay, rolling blackouts have forced commuters to leave early so they will not be stranded when the trains stop running. Some stores have been stripped bare of essentials like rice and milk, leading the prime minister to publicly call for calm. All the while, aftershocks small and large rattle windows and fray nerves.