Disaster – a sudden event, such as an accident or a natural catastrophe, that causes great damage or loss of life.
Preparedness – a state of readiness.
In an increasingly hostile planet, man needs to continuously prepare for more disasters in the 21st century. From global warming to shifts in the stabilizing factors that affect geology, there are many causes of natural and man-made disasters.
Globally mind-boggling disasters are caused by three (3) main factors.
- Excesses of weather.
- Geological issues.
- Human errors and intention.
Every once in a while, there are excesses of weather that hit areas on the planet. Heavy rain resulting in flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes, mudslides after heavy rain and strong winds etc are a common occurrence today. Sometimes, there is ample warning before these disasters strike. Other times, they strike spontaneously.
Here, the range varies widely from volcanic eruptions to earthquakes. Tsunamis are in this category too. Disasters resulting from geological issues are the most sudden and there is often very little time – if any – to prepare for the onset of geologically induced disasters.
Man is always tinkering with either nature or gadgets. While technology has helped to greatly improve comfort levels in human life, it also sometimes goes astray and turns on us. Nuclear-related disasters come to mind very fast. Wars have also been often categorized as disastrous for non-combatants. Bombings, building collapses and fires caused by humans are on the increase today. Some of these things happen intentionally, such as bombings, and others unintentionally.
Disaster preparedness starts with situational awareness. Be always aware of what is happening around you. Situational awareness starts with what you see, what you hear, and the behaviour of humans, animals and other non-living objects around you.
If you can escape the initial strike of a disaster unhurt, your chances of living increase exponentially. Follow the rules laid out by authorities in events where there is some coordinated preparedness. E.g during war, local authorities might designate bomb shelters. Head to these as fast as you can, or build one in your own basement.
On your own, have a ready package of supplies at home and possibly at your place of work too. How do you travel home? If you own a car, stock up on some water in a safe container, and medical supplies.
Your disaster preparedness kit
- Basic Disaster preparedness Kit. In your basic disaster preparedness kit, have medical supplies, water, some dry foods, a source of fire such as matchboxes or a lighter and some material that can be used to build a basic shelter. A large sheet of polythene or canvas works well in construction of a simple shelter. Dry warm clothing should also feature prominently when building your kit. A face mask and a knife will be useful here too.
- Advanced disaster preparedness kit. Here, you include all what is in the basic kit and add some more. A torch or source of light and extra batteries for it are an important addition. Plastic glasses for eye protection, fuel for fire, more dry foods with variety of nutrition levels to include proteins and vitamins, flotation devices, a weapon with whose use you are familiar with, a radio and a gas mask are handy in this kit. An axe or hatchet works wonders as a survival tool and doubles up as a weapon when need be.
- Extreme survival kit. If you have this kit, it is no longer about surviving a disaster and the shortages that often follow. It is about living for as long as you can without external assistance from government authorities or other people. Gas masks that can handle toxic fumes, special wear that allows you to venture into bio-toxic zones, flares and emergency signals. When you need this kit, getting to safety will be top on your agenda, then the need for food and water come second. Medical supplies in this kit should allow for the performance of minor surgeries by yourself or any available medical personnel, so some sterilization supplies should be included.
Safety and Sanity in a Disaster
Whenever a disaster strikes, getting to safety should be at the top of your priorities. The kits described above should be kept ready to pick and go. There is usually no time to collect the items suggested and put them into a go-bag. So keep a go-bag ready all the time. You can divide up the kit between family members or team members. In a disaster, leadership is often wanting, Be ready to be a leader any time it is called for.
Order and sanity should not be thrown to the wind when there is a disaster. A calm mind will increase your chances of survival. When a resource is found, sharing it peacefully is often better than fighting over it or trying to hoard large amounts for yourself. When help comes, do not push and shove in an attempt to put yourself first.