March 15th, 2011
The tsunami in Japan has got me thinking. If I were there when it happened, what would I have done? I’d like to say that I would have grabbed my go-bag and headed for higher ground. The truth is that I don’t have a go-bag and I’m not positive that I would know how to get to higher ground. I also wonder what I would do if I lived right next to the tsunami affected area. What if where I lived was not destroyed or even damaged? How would I handle the subsequent food rationing and rolling blackouts? I really need to be prepared for these things.
This is not about paranoia. Do you wear your seatbelt? If not you should. I have been in a few automobile accidents, especially when I was a young driver, and I can only think of one where the seatbelt may have been helpful. However, I know that I could very well be in a wreck where a seatbelt saves my life. And what does it cost me? A bit of discomfort in the summer and a few moments after I start my car. That seems like a good trade off for possibly preserving my life. Do you have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen? If not you should. I have never seen any situation in the kitchen come close to needing a fire extinguisher but again it costs very little and could save life as well as the house.
What does this have to do with the tsunami in Japan? The tsunami shows us two responses to emergencies that reasonable people need to be prepared for. In the case of an immanent tsunami we see that we need to be able to pick up and leave at a moments notice. In the after affects we see that the other end is being able to shelter in place for an uncertain period of time. We’ll look at the immanent tsunami first.
“But I live a hundred miles from the ocean. Why do I care about being prepared for an immanent tsunami?” Good question. First, if you ever visit the ocean you are vulnerable to a tsunami. There is no way to guarantee you will survive a tsunami hitting you on your day at the beach but you can do some simple things to help shift the odds in your favor. “I will never go to the beach. I’m allergic to the ocean.” This still applies to you because the tsunami-dynamic can be created by any number of other events. There are flash floods, earthquakes, chemical/nuclear emergencies, and terrorist attacks (e.g. Mumbai) to name a few. “Ben, you’re starting to sound paranoid. None of those things are very likely to happen.” Actually ALL those things are guaranteed to happen. They are as certain as Christmas. They’re just not likely to happen to you today. Remember, I’m not advocating that everyone should be in a Navy SeAL like state of readiness. What I propose for a tsunami-dynamic situation that requires immediate action involves a very reasonable financial outlay, a couple hours to put it together, and just a few minutes per month (if that) to maintain it.
The immanent tsunami presents a threat that must be evaded immediately and will likely destroy the surrounding area. This means that you have to get out of Dodge immediately and then be able to take care of yourself until help arrives or you can get to support. That support will likely be there in hours but depending on other circumstances it could be days. What a situation like this calls for is the bare essentials. We aren’t looking to be ready to have a fun camping trip, we’re looking to live. So what do we start with? We start with knowledge.
Next we look at the rudimentary knowledge you should have.