Emergency Preparations and Personal Safety
When most people think of Emergency Preparedness,
they think of storing food and water, maybe some camping gear and perhaps an emergency phone list. If it is even considered,
Personal Safety is well down on the "to do" list.
This can be a very big mistake.
Emergency Preparedness classes, we talk about the 12 Impacts that can affect you during any type of emergency. It doesn't matter what's the cause of the disaster:
If it's a natural disaster - such as an earthquake - or a terrorist attack, there are 12 things that can impact your
life. One of those 12 Impacts is a Lack of Safety.
Consider what has happened during the past few
natural disasters that have made the news.
During hurricane Katrina, there was wide-spread violence - even in
the supposedly safe, government-controlled Astrodome.
After the earthquake in Haiti, the beatings, rape
and looting started the next day. With the most recent earthquake in Chile, the looting and violence started literally
as soon as the ground stopped shaking!
Three very different countries.
Three virtually identical results.
In an interesting study titled, "Katrina, Natural Disasters and Sexual Violence", they delve into why this type of thing happens during disasters. Their very first point hits right on the mark -
collapse of traditional societal support mechanisms (social sanctions, norms for proper behavior, etc.) when refugees are
forced to flee or to live in camp surroundings. In particular, the communal support systems for the protection of vulnerable
individuals may no longer be present."
You're on your own.
In most emergency preparedness
or personal safety courses, the motto is, "Hope for the best; Prepare for the
worst." This is a good motto to follow.
Remember: You never know where you'll be
when an emergency strikes. You may be at work, at home or on the road. You just can't know for sure for many
emergencies. At the very minimum, you should have a Get Home Bag (GHB) in your car that has enough supplies to allow
you to "hold out" for 3 days.
A part of that should be some sort of defensive tool. Here
in California - where it is very difficult for an average citizen to possess a handgun outside
of their home - at a minimum, you should have a pepper spray, stun gun or Taser in your GHB.
keeping one of these defensive tools in your purse, backpack, or briefcase is a very inexpensive way to ensure you have some
means of defending yourself if an emergency strikes while you are at work (or school). Obviously, read and understand the laws regarding where you are allowed to possess these defensive tools - there ARE some prohibitions.
At home, you are
generally allowed to possess firearms for self-defense (again: read and understand these laws). If you don't
have the funds or the inclination to have a firearm at your home, safely secured pepper spray, stun guns or Tasers will
provide you with a reasonable amount of personal protection.
Bottom line: Do
something. Assuming an emergency will never "visit" you is foolhardy. Assuming your safety
will be ensured by someone else could cost you your life.
Bison Risk Management Associates is a Northern California-based company providing Personal Safety and Emergency Preparedness training, workshops and consulting
for individuals, businesses and organizations.