23 June 2014
In a fictitious scenario: a man was sitting at home on one afternoon, when all of a sudden a boom is heard. Looking around the neighborhood a large black cloud of smoke is seen. Upon inspection he noticed that a large cargo plane crashed into the neighborhood just upwind from his location. Once the fire department and police arrived on scene, the determination was made that it was a hazardous material incident and the neighborhoods within one mile downwind must be evacuated for an unknown amount of time. The police department made the notifications to evacuate, and the family began to panic because there were no supplies prepared for them to grab and leave. They must try and pack everything in the short amount of time they have. Now they wished they had listened to all the public service announcements and were better prepared for disasters. As the man was pushing his family out of the house he noticed that only some of his neighbors were calmly evacuating with their necessities and more than half were struggling to get their stuff packed and out of the house. Assessing this scenario the question that should be asked is why are people and families not as prepared as they should be for any type of disaster?
This is an example of a family who was not prepared for a disaster in their area. Research has shown that about 60 % of American families do not have emergency plans in place. (Wallace, 2013, CNN.com) The preparedness, response and recovery activities of Homeland Security, claims that more than half of American families are ill-prepared when it comes to disasters. These do not have to be catastrophic disasters to prepare for, it could be as simple as a waterline burst in your house while you are at work and subsequent the house flood. If there was an emergency plan in place for something like this, then families would not be scrambling to gather belongings or get lost while trying to find one another. Better prepared individuals and families would make the disaster process a little less stressful, they would use fewer resources and could potentially save lives. American families have many reasons to be or not to be prepared in case there is a disaster in their area. Most of which are not well prepared for a disaster. There are three hypotheses that will be challenged throughout the research process. The first is that people believe that a disaster will not happen in their area. The second is people believe they are prepared enough when it comes to disasters. Finally the third is that it is too expensive to plan for disasters. Listening to the news and other reports on disasters the most used line when asked if they were prepared and why was “no, nothing ever has happened here so we thought it would never happen.” This reasoning is flawed. People should be prepared with a minimum of an escape route out of the house and who they should contact in case of a disaster. These are things that can be accomplished within reason, meaning that there is no money needed or significant barriers in preparing the information. People get too comfortable in their ways and when disaster strikes they are stressed and not always rational, but can be avoided by making a plan. This can be seen with all the major disasters in the last 15 years, if not longer. The people who were set in their ways had major issues evacuating and collecting belongings and the prepared ones had it easier. The second hypothesis is that people believe they are prepared enough when comes to disasters. Preparedness is a relative term. Having an evacuation plan and a few contact phone numbers for friends or family is good enough for some people, while others say that you need to have bunkers, weapons, evacuation plans, and many more things to be prepared. The American Red Cross recommends the following as a minimum emergency kit in case of a disaster: