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View Diary: Are YOU ready for disaster? Part 2 of 5 - Plan to survive! (154 comments)

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  •  Probably not (4.00)
    This has been more work than I anticipated, even considering my unfair exclusion of nuclear war and massive social upheaval.

    On the other hand, some of the sites I'll link to in Part 4 certainly have a few things to say about nuclear war and related topics.  It's almost impossible to spend any time on preparedness without running into the Armageddon Fallacy.


    You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

    by AlphaGeek on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 04:34:23 PM PDT

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    •  Armageddon Fallacy (none)
      Is this the fallacy that we can survive it?  Or that it will actually happen?  To tell the truth, I didn't really expect your series to deal with this.  I'm just a (very frightened) voice crying in the wilderness.
      •  See Part 1 (4.00)
        Here y'go:

        The psychology of disaster preparedness

        In order to effectively prepare for disaster without becoming overwhelmed, you must be able to make realistic judgments about risks.  On one hand, it is an effort for most people to "think the unthinkable", to contemplate scenarios which are far outside the routine of their daily lives.  It is difficult for most people to imagine a world where fresh water does not flow from the taps, electricity is something you can't take for granted, and the grocery store shelves are empty... assuming the stores are even open.

        On the other hand, there's a phenomenon I think of as the "armageddon fallacy".  This is the temptation, once that our Pandora's Box of fears and concerns has been opened, to imagine extremely unlikely events as real threats.  We must be cautious to exercise good judgment when considering risks, as the "armageddon fallacy" is a surprisingly easy trap to fall into.  Keep in mind that your plan, at some point, will be shared with friends and family.  This incents most people to stay clear of the Crazy Talk Express to Armageddon Town when making a plan.

        You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

        by AlphaGeek on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 04:55:20 PM PDT

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        •  Thank you! (4.00)
          Believe it or not, I did read your first posting.  Ya suppose I'm spending too much time on the blogs?  Major brain farts are one of the early symptoms, I'd bet.  The psychology you outlined here is one I've learned already, whether the discussion topics are disaster survival or my attempts at rational analysis of why my NEIGHBORS AND RELATIVES ALL STILL BELIEVE BUSH...ok..ok...I'm going to think quiet thoughts now...trees...water... no, maybe not water...trees...birdsong... thanks again, AG.  Good work.
        •  like Y2K? (none)
          Are there instances where a person might not prepare, or might not be the first to act because they don't want to look foolish?  To suddenly cry "the sky is falling!," "everybody run!", and it then turns out it was nothing?

          So, you wait to see if someone else says it, or you wait to see if it's going to be as bad as you think, and in the waiting you lose the time or planning that would have saved your life.

          "He's done a hell of a job, because I'm not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm." Kate Hale re FEMA Dir. Mike Brown.

          by OLinda on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 06:17:27 PM PDT

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          •  I hear what you're saying (none)
            Keep in mind that preparedness is not an all-or-nothing proposition.  Many people have some level of preparedness, whether they consciously realize it or not.  The problem comes when circumstances exceed the limits of your stubborn neighbor's half-assed notions of post-earthquake survival.

            My general point is that rational preparedness is about managing your risk in ways that reflect the probability and impact of a particular event on you and your community.  If you don't factor in both probability and impact, you'll end up spending time and money on something that's not likely to ever affect you.

            For what it's worth, here's how I approach the problem:

            First, I optimize my preparedness strategy to primarily address high-probability/high-impact events.  Generally speaking, this also takes care of any potential events in the high-prob/low-impact category as well.  For these situations, I have both response plans and material preparations in place.

            Next, I look to see if any minor adjustments to my current plans could anticipate events in the low-prob/low-impact category.  If so, I'll slipstream those in.  If not, I accept the risk and move on.

            Finally, we come to low-probability/high-impact events, e.g. a 30KT nuke detonating aboard a container ship sailing under the Golden Gate.  For a relatively improbable scenario such as this (or similar ones) I prepare exclusively through research and planning.  

            For example, because I know that my family can effectively shelter-in-place much longer than the expected time required for my CERT team to receive and distribute potassium iodide supplements, I do not feel the need to stockpile them myself.  Likewise, the disposable Tyvek coveralls in my emergency kit, coupled with my half-mask respirator and goggles, would be adequate (disposable!) protection to enable me to go outside and rinse down my house after a few days.

            I'm the last one to suggest that anyone should take a wait-and-see approach to preparedness, obviously.  I simply suggest that each preparedness plan should be based on rational, managed risk rather than fear of extremely unlikely events.


            You are so evolved it boggles my fragile little mind. Now give me a 4, fucker. (Bill In Portland Maine, to Meteor Blades)

            by AlphaGeek on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 11:06:47 PM PDT

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