Saturday, January 30, 2010

The ability to foresee disaster

Preppers, survivalists, Boy Scouts, and everyone else who believes in being prepared, are often baffled by other's indifference or even hostility. Being ready for disaster is serious business, but loved ones are often troubled by all the concern. Are our tin foil hats on too tight?

Some people don't want to think about bad things happening. For a certain percentage, tomorrow will be like today and yesterday, so there's nothing to worry about. Other people don't want to think about potential problems as if thinking about bad things will make them happen. Then there are what I call the "faith based planners." "They" will always find a solution. People have faith in the almighty "they" to solve the problems.

I had a career based on unlikely bad things happening. As a Firefighter, I was kept pretty busy with problems that people thought would never happen. Who could imagine the aquarium would spring a leak, all the water drain out and the tank heater would overheat and set the drapes on fire? It happened on my watch. A boat on a trailer parked behind a house caught fire in the middle of a raging snowstorm. A deaf guy didn't know his car was on fire and that a fire truck was chasing him trying to put it out.

Weird unlikely stuff like that happened to me all the time. It's easy for me to imagine things like the just-in-time food distribution system breaking down. That's not as weird as the aquarium thing.

Same could happen to fuel supplies. I've seen that on a small scale. One major gas station didn't get its fuel delivery due to a snowstorm. By 8 AM the next morning, not only were they out of gas, gas stations in three towns had run out. Not just gas from that company, but all brands. Since people couldn't gas up a their normal place, they went to a different gas station. That caused the other places to run dry as they had a lot more business than normal. Fortunately, by 10 AM the fuel trucks make it into town and the mini shortage was over. What would have happened if the trucks couldn't come for two days? A week? A month?

Most people have no idea how many things have to work just right for modern technological society to function. Everything is interconnected. If fuel runs out, food runs out. If food runs out, soon the cops run out of bullets. If the power fails, city water pumps don't work, gas stations can't pump gas, oil and propane furnaces won't function. What happens when the pharmacies are closed and nobody can get their psych meds?

You see it's not just physical things. Society can be brittle. Most people obey the law, but there aren't enough police to watch everybody. If everyone breaks the law, most if not all will escape punishment. As soon as that starts to happen, it's all over. It's like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. Let the tiny breach get bigger and eventually the whole ocean floods in. Things can fall apart pretty fast.

I'm not pointing all this out to scare people. Just be aware that bad things can happen to good people. Having some basic preparation in place -food, water, fuel, lights, etc., can make all the difference. It's more than having stuff. Your mind has to be flexible enough to see when things are heading south and to take action.

Avoid the whole deer in the headlights, freeze in place, and get run over scenario.

. . . and keep an eye on that darn aquarium.


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