Despite its wild, oscillating weather, Earth is a survivor. It’s been pelted many times by space rocks, endured volcanic upheavals that have ripped its surface apart and been shook so hard by mega-thrust earthquakes that the planet is still ringing like a bell today. Not the place you would expect to find life flourishing and with such staggering diversity. On the other hand, Earth has also recorded five mass extinction events where some very unlucky creatures never got to celebrate their next birthday.
And, just to keep all of us on our toes, at any time during the year, there are a few volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis thrown in for good measure. In a really, really bad year, there might be a global pandemic thanks to some, cough, sick birds.
Naturally, you might wonder "what are my chances of dying in a disaster?" The odds are actually low but it depends on where you live (check your country and where it stands on the disaster risk list). According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there’s a far higher likelihood that you’ll die from heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases and accidental injury – a category that is based, somewhat, on bad decisions and too much alcohol.
Of course, the low odds of dying by “natural forces” are small comfort to the actual victims of a major disaster – especially to the nearly quarter of a million men, women and children who died in the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 26, 2004. For 230,000 people going about their daily lives, the odds suddenly shifted tragically against them.
As it turns out, Asia is a leader in world disasters. According to a New York Times article written by Joe Cochrane, between 2001 and 2010, the Asia-Pacific area had the most natural disasters, along with the highest number of deaths and the biggest economic losses resulting from them, of anywhere in the world.
On average, more than 200 million people in the region were affected per year by natural disasters during that span, including more than 70,000 killed annually, as noted in a 2011 report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
For most people, disasters are a lot like airliner accidents – they don’t happen very often but, when they do, they usually kill a lot of people. If you happen to be one of the victims, well, as actress Brooke Shields eloquently explained in a media interview “if you’re killed, you’ve lost the best part of your life.” To be fair, she was actually talking about the dangers of smoking but her logic still went down in history as outstanding.
The truth is that disasters happen all the time and, unless you’re following those stories or the disaster is big enough to warrant a lot of media attention, you may not realize how often some town, somewhere, is getting the daylights kicked out of it. And, one day, that town might be your town.
In a coming blog, I'll also prepare some customization lists for specific disaster types so that you can tailor your kit based on your individual risk checklists. But, in the meantime, we can still get started prepping for the generic items right away.
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© Copyright 2016 Nancy Argyle