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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Emergency Preps and Personal Safety

This is a re-print of our weekly Personal Safety newsletter.  Click here, and you too can get a copy each and every week!  You can see all of the articles in our Newsletter Archive as well.
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.

In our 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 -

"The 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."

Translation:  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.
Also 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.
Next Issue:  Defensive Tactics

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

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