My family is by no means prepared for every disaster the world can throw at us, but wake-up calls over the past few years have been more than enough to convince us that a bit of planning for volatile and uncertain times is useful.
My top six wake-up calls to date: Hurricane Katrina (2005), Oklahoma ice storm (2007), global oil price spike (2008), global economic crisis (2008), global oil price spike (2011), and Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster (2011). The 2011 events are continuing to unfold as we speak and the following articles from this week illustrate just how fast life can change for even the most sophisticated of cultures.
- From the Washington Post: “Torn up and terrified by a disaster that keeps on getting worse, Japan has transformed in just four days from one of the world’s most comfortable countries into one of its most distressed.”
- The Washington Post reported that relief efforts are only meeting about 10 percent of survivors’ needs.
- Photo after photo of empty grocery store shelves in Japan sent in by readers to the New York Times graphically illustrates the precarious nature of our just-in-time food system.
- Bloomberg reported the most highly sought after items are candles, flashlights, surgical masks and duct tape
- And in Sunday’s New York Times, “The Limits of Safeguards and Human Foresight,” Jon Schwartz notes the general personal unpreparedness of U.S. citizenry for uncertain times, “ … in most of the country, simple plans that include having a quick-grab case of supplies, medications and important family papers, as well as a plan for reuniting family members who have been separated in a disaster, are distressingly rare, Dr. Redlener said.”
This past Sunday Transition US sent out a tweet with a link to our government’s recommendations for basic emergency preparedness. It’s a good place to start, but I also advocate thinking about emergency preparedness as a means of laying the groundwork for overall household resiliency planning. (BTW - resiliency is the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change, so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity and feedbacks.)
Next steps in “Wake-up calls, insurance and having a plan | part 2,” coming soon.