Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Disaster Preparedness Part 1

For those of us living in a part of the U.S. that isn’t prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, or wildfires, we tend not to think about being prepared for such events. In the Northeast, we recently learned that we aren’t immune from the ravages of the weather. Two years ago we suffered damaging flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee (particularly in Upstate New York and Vermont). Last year the coast of the Northeast suffered severe damage from Hurricane Sandy. Things are still not back to normal in many parts of coastal New Jersey, Staten Island, and Long Island. Repairs are still being made to the NYC subway system because of salt water damage resulting from when certain parts of it were flooded.

Not only are all parts of the country vulnerable to natural disasters of various kinds, but there is a growing risk of man-made disasters. Of course we’ve seen mass killings, such as happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, at the Boston Marathon, and on 9/11. However, I’m thinking of terrorist activities that could affect millions of Americans, such as a cyber-attack.

Janet Napolitano just left her job as Secretary of Homeland Security. In a recent speech, she stated her concern about the significant risk of a major cyber-attack on the U.S. in the near future. Similar concerns have been voiced over the past few years, citing our vulnerability. A cyber-attack could bring down our creaky power grid, disrupt communications, halt all commerce, and bring transportation to a standstill. If such an attack were to affect a large part of the country, it could be weeks, if not months, before power could be restored and life begins to return to normal. Most Americans aren’t prepared for such an event. Even if the attack hits only New York City, it could affect the whole nation in some form or another. Major cyber-attacks and other terrorist plots in Europe could affect us as well.

Every household needs to be prepared for a major disaster. FEMA recommends keeping at least a 30 day supply of food, water, and other necessities, because you could be without power for that length of time. With transportation disrupted, stores and gas stations won’t be supplied, so you’ll need to keep a good inventory of non-perishable food, drink, toilet paper, and the like. You won’t be able to fill up the car because gas pumps will not be operating if the power is out, so keep at least a half a tank of gas in the car at all times. Gas stations with generators will soon be out of gas because of the demand. In case there are goods or services available to be bought, keep some cash on hand because credit cards won’t work See www.ready.gov for more information on disaster preparedness.

More on this subject in a future post.

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