Sunday, March 28, 2010

2012: Are You Prepared?

Part of living an efficient and effective lifestyle often entails being prepared -- asking yourself questions such as -- “What happens when things go wrong and the government isn’t there to help? Am I ready? What will I do?” Have you ever even thought about such things?

Whether 2012 is the true date for society’s destruction or not, the scenario it presents is worth a few minutes contemplation.

While the end of the world as we know it may or may not be just around the corner, the arrival of the year 2012, and the possible Armageddon associated with the date should give us all pause to consider our preparations -- or lack thereof -- for a major catastrophe. While I’m not a doomsday seeker or avid promoter of the calamities that spread worldwide death and destruction, I am of the mindset that it is best to be prepared. Maybe it’s my Midwest upbringing. It could be the long winters I endured in the relative seclusion of rural Indiana that taught me the value of preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. More than anything though, it is probably the satisfaction I take in knowing that I can assist family, friends, and neighbors should the situation arise.

I recently read an article in which the author was interviewing 2012 extremists preparing their bunkers out in the vast wilderness of Wyoming, South Dakota, and similarly sparsely populated western states. At the conclusion of the article, as the author returned to his Miami condominium, he made mention of the fact that he only had a bottle of vodka and a pineapple stashed in his refrigerator in the event of an emergency. Now this is certainly an extreme example of the lack of consideration for even the smallest of crises, especially seeing as how the author lived in Florida, home of the hurricane. I think it does however, justify my concerns regarding society’s overall readiness and preparation for disasters -- and I’m not just talking about a hurricane or a power outage.

There was a show playing on the History Channel the other day called, Day After Disaster. The program chronicled the possible events following a nuclear detonation in Washington, D.C. I admit that I found myself glued to the television for the entire two-hour program. Living in Chicago, I have often contemplated the mass exodus and the ensuing chaos of such an event. The show did a fantastic job at detailing what would happen in the aftermath of a nuclear detonation. The show focused not only on the effects upon the city and population of Washington, D.C. itself, but upon other major cities, surrounding states, the nation as a whole, and our governing structure.

My wife wasn’t home when I watched the show, so I recorded a later running of it for her to watch. I hoped she would take the warnings and advice regarding the government’s number one terrorist scenario more seriously coming from the History Channel, than her rambling, overly cautious husband. No such luck. After two failed attempts in which she fell asleep about ten minutes into the show, I gave up. While I realize that she leaves such planning and worrying to me even though the possibilities of such a disaster occurring in her beloved Chicago are quite real, I though that nuclear Armageddon might actually keep her awake. Wroooooonnng! More than anything, her actions spelled out to me more clearly than ever, that hers was the prevailing attitude in America -- a far more laissez faire mentality toward very real disaster possibilities and scenarios. It was the, “I’ll deal with it when I get there,” type thinking, which is fine when you go to the mall or are picking out what color car to buy, but not when contemplating annihilation at the hands of nuclear terrorists. I might be the odd man out here, but when it comes to preparing yourself to survive an inevitable disaster (sorry, but as history has shown us, something bad will happen eventually), I think the subject deserves a bit more consideration.

As I mentioned earlier, I really don’t consider myself an extremist when it comes to disaster preparation. Sure, I have extra food and water in the pantry, candles and batteries if we lose power, a cook stove with extra propane, crank powered flashlight and radio, and similar fixings, as well as a general idea of what I’d do or where I’d go if it came down to leaving the Chicago metro area. I will even admit to occasionally visiting one particular website that discusses an interesting variety of disaster scenarios and possibilities, which in my opinion are not overly pessimistic or far-fetched.

The website,, combines real disaster news with historical background information, and updates regarding possible disaster scenarios from around the world. I have found that the information appears to be quite reliable, informative, and backed up with qualified sources. More importantly, it does not lose sight of the facts among all the disaster mongering and “The end is upon us!” type hype you’ll find on many such websites. Everything from nuclear detonations to super volcano eruptions, hurricanes, tsunamis, famine, financial meltdowns, and the always-popular cosmic collision scenarios are discussed and updated. The site even goes so far as to dispel or clarify rumors and speculation regarding possible disaster scenarios (2012, Y2K, etc.). The site is worth checking out if you’re interested in learning about what “real” disasters face the world.

Now, I’m not going to tell you to start building your bunker in the backyard, stockpiling loads of food (although having extra survival supplies on hand isn’t a bad idea), and devoting all your available time and resources for preparing for the end. That is no way to live. And what would be the point anyway if true Armageddon does arrive? If that were the case, wouldn’t your preparations be farcical -- simply an attempt to outlast everyone else only to live in what would be an unlivable world? My goal is simply to plant the seeds of thoughtful consideration as to the prospects that lay ahead, whether they are tomorrow, in 2012, or 2043. The odds show us that something will happen at some time. When, where, and all the rest of the specifics are what makes being prepared necessary.

Therefore, whether December 21, 2012 comes and goes with a bang or a whimper, the date itself should serve as an allegorical reminder that we need to consider our personal wellbeing far in advance of a disaster -- not during or after. Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, the 2004 tsunami, and similar catastrophes are but small reminders (compared to a worldwide cataclysm) of the chaos that can ensue after a disaster. You don’t want to be one of those trapped without a plan of action or the resources to save yourself. We all remember stories and images of those waiting for help on the upper floors of the World Trade Towers, were caught in the 2004 tsunami, or were trapped in New Orleans during Katrina. I certainly think it is worth a few minutes of contemplation, planning, and healthy discussion with our loved ones in order to avoid similar fates when the unthinkable becomes reality.

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