I’ve been involved in the Emergency Preparedness Industry for many years, and it never ceases to amaze me how unprepared the average citizen is when it comes to preparedness. Think about it; following a disaster, what kind of water cooler talk is most common: “Golly jeepers, I really need to get my act together and put some emergency supplies together!”, or “I sure am glad I prepared ahead of time!”? I’m sure you’ll agree that the former statement is by far the norm. Bottom line is that Procrastination is rampant in this country when it comes to emergency preparedness.
Think about it…we spend thousands of dollars every year on protections like health insurance, life insurance, auto insurance, homeowners insurance, and even earthquake insurance, but most have not spent one dime preparing for a disaster or emergency that could save your life for a fraction of the cost. What’s even more crazy is that getting prepared requires a very small investment required only once every five years. Yes, that’s correct! Most emergency preparedness kits today are built to last for 5 years and that includes the food and water rations. Essential Packs even carries emergency food that has a 25 year shelf life. Amazing!
So why is that folks take such a blasé approach to such a serious responsibility? I’d be interested in your comments rewarding this question. To me, the answer, it two fold. First, we have a tendency to think that our government will take care of us in disastrous situations. Right! All one has to do is think back to the response that took place following the Katrina Disaster (and we knew that the hurricane was coming almost a week ahead of time). Secondly, we think we have time, that this won’t happen to us, or in our lifetime.
Following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, we instantly experienced a 20x increase in sales. In fact, when I got to work the morning after, we were completely sold out and backordered on products like IOSAT (Potassium Iodide to help prevent radiation poisoning). Not only were we out-of-stock, but so were our competitors. Our suppliers were also backordered and it took almost 90 days for the supply chain to return to normal. It was a crazy three months! The entire industry was bleed dry of its inventory and many people were unable to obtain supplies for quite some time. At Essential Packs, we invested heavily in stocking much greater quantities of inventory, but even with this change in strategy, we will simply be unable to meet the demand associated with an unexpected catastrophic disaster.
Let’s take this one step further…Let’s suppose there was no shortage of supply following a disaster, there are still many other factors that would prevent you from getting supplies. How will you place an order? Mobile phone, landline phone, and Internet services will most likely be unavailable. If they are, most likely they will be overloaded and busy with high demand. How will your supplies reach you, even if you’re able to place an order? Shipping Services will be delayed and disrupted. The most heavily impacted areas will not have basic services such as electricity, water, and gas.
With that said, the lesson for everyone is that preparing now, not tomorrow, not next week, but now, is the only reasonable and responsible approach.