Thread: Be Prepared
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Old 05-16-2006, 22:00   #1
The Reaper
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Be Prepared

The intent of this thread is to discuss Disaster Preparedness and assist members of PS.com with their personal disaster planning.

We do not specifically teach disaster preparedness or urban/suburban survival in the SF Qualification Course or SERE. Having said that, with a few exceptions, the survival needs are the same.

Last year, I was asked to prepare a briefing on Terrorism preparedness for corporate managers. One of the first things I noted was that the preparations were very similar to those for natural disasters, and that the disasters were much more likely at any given location than a terrorist act. I would say that any significant disruption of basic services to a large number of people qualifies as a disaster. The Department of Transportation defines it as any occurrence that causes damage, ecological destruction, loss of human lives, or deterioration of health and health services on a scale sufficient to warrant an extraordinary response from outside the affected community area.

Regardless of how you define it, the disaster preparation process looks something like this:

Disaster Preparation

1. Identify/prioritize likely threats or disasters.
2. ID resources (internal and external)
3. Develop Courses of Action using a decision making process
4. Initiate disaster preparation; acquire skills, materials, etc.
5. Establish responsibilities, conduct rehearsals, conduct internal and external quality assurance checks, document, revise and repeat.

How you prepare for disasters will depend on the threats you face and the remaining social structure you anticipate during and after a catastrophe. A disaster can be natural, or manmade. It could be pandemic, a hurricane, a wildfire, an earthquake, a flood, or a war. It is likely that sometime in your life, no matter where you live, you will be without normal amenities for an extended period of days, weeks, or even more. A facility based analysis of disaster threats would look as follows.

Disaster Analysis

Frequency of Occurrence:

• Highly likely (Near 100% probability in the next year)
• Likely (Between 10% and 100% probability in the next year, or at least one chance in the next 10 years)
• Possible (Between 1% and 10% probability in the next year, or at least one chance in the next 100 years)
• Unlikely (Less than 1% probability in the next 100 years)

Seasonal pattern?

• No
• Yes. Specify season(s) when hazard occurs:

Potential Impact:

• Catastrophic (Multiple deaths; shutdown of critical facilities for 1 month or more; more than 50% of property severely damaged)
• Critical (Injuries or illness resulting in permanent disability; shutdown of critical facilities for at least 2 weeks; 25% to 50% of property severely damaged)
• Limited (Temporary injuries; shutdown of critical facilities for 1-2 weeks; 10% to 25% of property severely damaged)
• Negligible (Injuries treatable with first aid; shutdown of critical facilities for 24 hours or less; less than 10% of property severely damaged)

Are any areas or facilities more likely to be affected (e.g., air, water, or land; infrastructure)? If so, which?

Speed of Onset:

• Minimal or no warning
• 6 to 12 hours warning
• 12 to 24 hours warning
• More than 24 hours warning

Potential for Cascading Effects?

• No
• Yes. Specify effects:

After living in Hawaii, Central America, the Caribbean, and the US on the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf coasts, I can tell you that when the hurricane is a few days out is no time to prepare a plan and to try to buy your necessities. Given the projections, when Phase V of a pandemic occurs, you will be unlikely to be able to acquire sufficient quantities of supplies to make survival somewhat more comfortable. You need to identify required resources, determine what you have on hand and what you will require, prioritize them according to relative importance, likelihood of need, and consequences, and develop an acquisition plan to meet your needs in a logical fashion (in accordance with your means).

The survival saw goes that you can survive six minutes without air, six days without water, and six weeks without food. While that is generally true, in each of those cases, you will not be doing much effectively after the first third of the respective period expires. It is up to you to see that you and any dependents have their needs (not necessarily wants) taken care of. It is not the government’s responsibility to take care of you, regardless of what our entitlement society's members believe. Those who expect the government to take care of them, review the Katrina tapes. Do you want to be airlifted off your roof to move to the Super Dome? Even well-meaning citizens will scramble and loot when they think they are going to run out of food and water and they see others getting away with it. You saw the looting of stores. If you are going to be the only one on the block with lights on and a generator humming away, once the stores are empty, guess where they are headed?

Thanks to modern transportation and economic efficiencies, your local box store or grocery has no attached warehouse. Everything they have is on the shelf, and to save money and space, it is normally only a few days of merchandise. If you live in an area that occasionally gets snow or hurricanes, you know what happens to the perishables and common necessities like bread, milk, eggs, batteries, bottled water, etc. There will not be more stuff appearing on the shelf until the trucks (and drivers) can get from the warehouse to the stores, and the stores have enough workers to open for business. There will be no more coming to the warehouse till the trucks (and drivers) get it from the distributors and wholesalers. Due to “Just in Time” manufacturing, there will be no more for them until the manufacturers (or growers, in the case of food) get their workers back on the jobs and their parts and components from the sub contractors, or increasingly today, the ports where they are brought in. The component makers will need labor and raw materials. You can see where this is headed. In the US, we live about 48 hours from a disaster. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, you saw what is likely to happen in the event of a localized catastrophe, with the rest of the country outside of the few affected states available to respond. Society imploded. Imagine what it would be like if the region, the country, the continent, or the world, are all experiencing their own disasters and are not available to help. The mobs looting and roaming the streets looking for food, booze, drugs, guns, or victims could be your neighbors. You need to decide now if you are going to be a sheep, a wolf, or a sheepdog, and prepare accordingly.

Next, you need to analyze your most likely courses of action. Will you stay where you are or move elsewhere to unite with others or to get away from them? This is an important consideration. If you live in NYC, any disaster of more than a few days is going to be difficult to survive and will require a lot of planning and preparation. If you saw New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, you might want to reconsider planning to remain in an urban area during a catastrophe of any duration. There will be little food and clean water, and the wolves will be taking what they need from the sheep. If you are going to relocate, you need to prepare in case you are stuck where you are, and for your destination as well. This means that you will need to ensure that you have the ability to relocate, to include reliable transportation, adequate fuel, a plan to pack what you need to take and secure your home in a certain amount of time, a route (and timeline) that will not leave you stuck on the highway when disaster occurs, and that your destination will be ready when you arrive. If you saw the highways outside of New Orleans and Houston just prior to their anticipated disasters last year, you can see the fallacy of waiting too late to initiate your plan or of not having reliable transportation. This decision can have a number of branches and sequels, depending on the nature of the disaster, prep/warning time, etc. The time to work all of that out is now. If you live in East Nowhere, Oklahoma, you will also need to prepare, but you may not need to travel. Now is the time to sit down and war game what could happen, starting with the most likely/most dangerous contingencies. If you live in the Rockies, a hurricane may be unlikely and relatively less important to you than someone in Florida, who will not be very concerned with an avalanche or blizzard. Work your way down to the lesser events. Plan your fight, then fight your plan, but remain flexible. You always want to have a contingency plan or two. That hurricane may zig, rather than zag. The epidemic may start next month, rather than next year. You may be hundreds of miles from home when the disaster strikes and you may be in a completely different situation at that location, better or worse.
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"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - President Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

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