We have been told to do so time and again. Government officials continue to warn us of their inability to respond to everyone's needs in an emergency situation, church leaders of many different faiths teach emergency preparedness, and even the Boy Scouts of America have adopted this simple statement as their motto.
Modern conveniences and luxuries may be the reason for the complacency of many of our attitudes towards emergency preparedness. We flip a switch, turn a dial, insert a key, or pull a lever to obtain virtually any necessity of life we desire. Food, water, heat and light are all available with almost no effort. For the most part, many of us live a life of luxury, yet continually search for bigger, better and more convenient items.
These modern conveniences are also accompanied by the age of information. Information from around the world reaches our homes as fast as you can tune a radio, turn on a television, open a newspaper or turn on the computer. This desire for information, the speed and ease at which it can be processed, provide us with the ability to assess potential hazards far better than we could in years past.
Headlines and news casts are filled with stories regarding natural and man made disasters, civil unrest, and unemployment from all parts of the world. These headlines provide us with several very good reasons to become prepared for emergencies.
For example, on June 7-10 of 1993 the state of Utah was the site of the largest simulated earthquake drill ever sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Over the course of the 4-day drill over 5,000 participants were involved. These participants came from various areas of emergency planning. Government agencies and volunteer organizations like the American Red Cross did the actual role playing, while business entities involved with emergency preparedness, worked to educate the public. The drill was designed to test the coordination and communication abilities of the emergency response agencies, and their effectiveness in providing relief in the event of an emergency. The simulation was to mimic an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale affecting the greater Salt Lake area. The statistics that came about as a result of this drill are based in a large part on actual data from other earthquakes, computer simulation, and statistical data regarding population base, structural analysis, soil composition and resources available.
By taking all of this information, FEMA has been able to paint a graphic picture that is very pertinent to the State of Utah, and specifically to the Wasatch Front. They estimate that with this type of scenario Utah would suffer 3,500 fatalities with 14,000 injured. In addition 645,000 people would be without water with as many as 45,000 people completely homeless. Over 50% of Emergency Response Capabilities would be non-functional, as well as over half of the hospitals and other medical facilities.
The need to be prepared is evident all around us, and we can do much the same as FEMA has done by gathering information that is pertinent to our own situation, and then use it in assessing the potential hazards and problems we might experience. Information can be obtained from various sources, and much of it is free or of very little expense. Check with your public library, American Red Cross or other emergency response organizations. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publishes or makes available a number of excellent brochures regarding various weather related hazards. While FEMA and the National Safety Council have publications for virtually any emergency or hazard related topic imaginable. There are also companies that specialize in emergency preparedness and provide valuable resources for information.
Once information has been collected, you can begin to start preparing yourself and your family. As you make emergency preparedness a priority, you will be surprised at how quickly you become prepared and how much comfort the peace of preparedness can bring.