Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What is a disaster?

What is the first thing you think of when I say the word "DISASTER".  Naturally, you will probably think of recent natural events such as Katrina, or the earthquakes in Haiti.  Those were widespread and devastating occurrences.  However, you may even think more locally, such as the recent  "snowpocalypse" or "snowmageddon that has poured out over the Eastern United States that has left so many without power.  Some cities have been without power and one North Carolina town was placed under curfew due to the snow. (The small article is about halfway down the page.)  

However, let's define disaster.  Websters says that a disaster is "any event that overwhelms existing resources to deal with the event".  That makes sense, and covers a lot of ground.

So, would unemployment be considered a disaster?  Yes, unemployment is a personal disaster if you do not have the resources to deal with it.  Then under the same definition, the sudden death of the breadwinner of the family could be a personal disaster.  A devastating illness that depletes your bank account and throws you into bankruptcy.  A snow storm that prevents you from going to the store for food and supplies or knocks out your heat and electricity.  Anything in your life that is unplanned and unprepared for is a personal disaster.

Please do not rely on help to always show up.  My husband is a volunteer firefighter.  We had another snowstorm last night on top of ice.  Around midnight, the call came.  Fortunately, the call was just a fire alarm going off.  Because, when my hubby went to start his 4-wheel drive truck, it was missing and chattering and he couldn't get out.  We don't know why it suddenly decided not to work, but it did.  As we listened to his fellow firefighters on the roads, we were glad the call turned out to be nothing.  Both firetrucks ended up in the ditch because of terrible road conditions.  Neither truck made it to the scene.  Had it been a real fire or a real emergency, no one could have shown up.

Don't  be dependent on others to help you out.  It won't always happen.  Especially in a personal emergency that isn't planned for. 

Let's take the unemployment scenario for example.  There are a lot of people unemployed today.  No one wants to plan for unemployment, but it is an ugly happening - I should know, my husband lost his job last May and I followed in June.  One thing that helps us is the unemployment insurance.  But with the way our government is throwing money at this and that, (and Heaven only knows what else) I am not sure how long that will last and we know unemployment insurance is temporary...So, this IS my personal disaster.

However, Webster's definition of disaster is "any event that overwhelms existing resources to deal with the event".  Fortunately, while I was working, I woke up one morning to the news screaming about food shortages and I demanded my husband to take me shopping for food.  I purchased over $300 worth of canned foods.  At that time, it filled the bed of our truck.  (I would have purchased more, but my husband wouldn't let me.)  Over the next couple of months, I also squirreled away shampoos, dish liquid, cleaners and anything I could get my hands on free or cheap with coupons.  I knew my job would be ending, so I put back.  Not as much as I should have, but I put back some.

Because of my putting back, we are using our unemployment to pay our bills and supplement the foods we have put up.  If we didn't have this supply of food on hand, the story would be very different.  Being partially prepared for this personal disaster has helped, but if only I had been diligent in my preparations, life would be soooooo much easier right now.

Sit down with your family and assess your preparedness levels.  Think of every possible and plausible scenario that could go on in your life and set goals to prepare for them.  A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Lao-tzu.  Begin your journey to preparedness now.  Take those small steps to prepare you and your loved ones in everything.  There WILL come a day when you will be glad you did.

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