It Won’t Happen to Me: Disasters and Lack of Preparedness

by Kevin on April 29, 2011

We have all felt this way. It’s so easy to fall into the mental trap.

It won’t happen to me. It can’t happen to me.

I don’t need to worry. I don’t need to prepare.

But then something happens. A volcanic eruption in Iceland. A hurricane in the Gulf. A tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan.

And now, an estimated F4 strength tornado touches down in Tuscaloosa, AL and drives northeast to Birmingham and beyond. Having just moved from Birmingham it was tough to watch the local Birmingham news on UStream as this 1/2 mile to 1 mile wide tornado ripped through Alabama.

Hundreds of people killed and entire business buildings and homes completely missing from their foundations. Power is out for over a million customers throughout the south’s tornado ravaged area. The University of Alabama has canceled final exams and postponed graduation until August. There are now reports that the water infrastructure in those two cities is damaged and water, if you can get it at your house, needs to be boiled. Groceries stores are running low on supplies, and gas stations are running low on gasoline. Those institutions are only accepting cash, no plastic.

So even if your home survived such a disaster, you are suddenly faced with a whole new set of serious problems.

How many of the people in that situation are prepared?

An Ounce of Prevention

Even if you aren’t faced with a life-threatening natural disaster, it is easy to fall in the trap of not preparing. You might be facing a tornado today. You might be facing hail damage from a storm. You might be facing paying a car deductible because of an accident. You might end up in the hospital unexpectedly.

Preparing doesn’t have to drain you financially. (And even if it did, it is probably better than being drained by a serious event!)

You can:

  • spend $40 to buy a nice supply of canned food for your home
  • spend another $20 on bottled water (You can go 14 days without food based on weather conditions, but only 2 to 10 days without water.)
  • invest a relatively small amount of money (compared to how much it would cost you to not have these in an emergency):
    • a strong flashlight with fresh batteries
    • first aid kit
    • emergency whistle to get attention of rescuers
    • matches/other fire starting tools
    • can opener for all that canned food you purchased
    • copies of your IDs to verify who you are during confusing situations
    • weather appropriate clothing (don’t throw out the old winter coat, put it in your disaster kit)
  • stick $100 in cash — small bills, preferably — with your emergency supplies

A Pound of Pain

What’s the cost if you don’t spend a few hundred bucks to prepare? The bottom line is your family is at risk. Risk of going hungry. Risk of dehydration. Risk of weakened immune systems due to lack of food and water.

Spending a few dollars is well worth it if it could potentially save your life. The likelihood you’ll need to use that emergency kit is fairly low, but so is the risk of you being in a serious car accident. The law requires you to purchase car insurance. Don’t wait for a law to force you to be prepared for disaster.

{ 1 comment }

Derek May 3, 2011 at 6:04 pm

How about organizing all of your personal financial information into an easy-to-access binder so when that something that can’t “happen to me” actually does happen? Simply grab it and go if you are caught in one of the terrible situations you described. – Derek

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