Why Paying Attention To Disaster Prepartion Is Smart If You Live Abroad!
by Dr. Verona Fonté
A shift is happening! The natural disasters we are accustomed to – hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes - that wreak havoc in a particular location in a few days, and then leave us with the difficult task of clean up and recovery, are not going to disappear. But there are new sorts of potential disasters emerging related to infectious diseases, which are different than the time-based disasters we are used to. With increased urbanization and crowding in third world countries, global trade, and the ease of global travel we are seeing the appearance of infectious diseases that spread from wild animals to domesticated animals and then sometimes to humans. If, and when, these infectious diseases develop the capacity for sustained human-to-human transmission they have the potential to threaten our collective health and safety.
The current bug-du-jour is the bird flu and there is talk of a pandemic. This will not happen unless this virus develops the ability to spread easily between humans. At that point it will be dangerous on a global level because we humans have not immunity to the virus. Since 2003, outbreaks of the bird flu have been confirmed in more than 48 countries and territories, according to the World Organization for Animal Health. In late June, the World Health Organization confirmed human-to-human transmission of the bird flu in Indonesia; but at this point there is not sustained human-to-human transmission. Given the news of this potential new kind of disaster and our recent siege of natural disasters, it is time to pay attention to disaster preparation as something we “just do”, like getting health insurance or car insurance.
Many Americans, both at home and especially abroad, are unclear about the dangers that a pandemic would present; and what simple, yet life saving measures they can take to protect themselves and their communities. In response to the climate of denial and fear surrounding this particular bug du jour - and natural disasters in general - I recently wrote a book, Bird Flu What to Do: Prepare to Survive. It was written for ordinary citizens under the premise that disaster preparation is the most pragmatic, socially responsible thing we can do, and that we must do it individually, collectively and across socioeconomic groups.
Now, before the next crisis occurs, is the time to prepare. This is especially important if you live abroad where, under pandemic conditions, you may face additional challenges to your safety and health, including:
* Limited access to healthcare, and other basic resources in a foreign country.
* Travel restrictions imposed.
* Problems getting in touch with loved ones, both abroad and in the States.
* Breakdown in infrastructure, including disruptions to water supply and electricity.
* Finding oneself low of the priority list in life threatening situations.
* Not having normal support networks and community help.
While these areas warrant concern, my intention is not to inspire fear. On the contrary, I strongly believe that if we simply prepare for disasters, we empower ourselves to address a potential crisis in a way that creates more safety and security for all. From my doctoral research and psychology practice of over 20 years, it is clear to me that people who believe they have mastery over a situation will have a greater capacity to care for themselves and more resilience during stressful times. Also, according to Dr. Leonard Duhl, Professor Emeritus in Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley, there is substantive research that indicates that communities that are prepared for disasters fare better than communities that are not prepared when disasters strike. It is impossible to prevent natural disasters, but many communities affected by recent disasters could have reduced their losses had they been better prepared.
What To Do?
The simple answer is preparation—with your families, your neighborhoods, and your communities.
In your family, this entails not only stockpiling dry foods and having the appropriate containers for water storage, but educating your loved ones on healthy behaviors, preparing your children emotionally for the possibility of a quarantine, and thinking about the special needs of members who may not be able to take care of themselves. In your neighborhoods, it’s important to begin meeting now to address emergency plans, organize resources, and plan for taking care of people who might need special help. Meet with your community leaders and local health officials to encourage them to participate in disaster planning, urging them to tackle now the difficult challenges that may arise during a natural disaster including social disruptions, large-scale food and water scarcity, and healthcare services for all socio-economic groups.
* We all need to be prepared to feel safe.
* Survival planning is the most socially responsible thing we can do.
* We cannot count on governments to take care of our needs during a disaster.
* Unless everyone in a community is physically and psychologically prepared for disaster, we create opportunities for social injustice and chaos as many of the most vulnerable will be left to fend for themselves.
* We are all caring people who can work together to preserve our loved ones, our neighborhoods, and the fabric of our communities from disaster.
* Disaster prepared families and neighborhoods will fare better than those neighborhoods that have not taken the time to prepare for disasters.
After you’ve prepared, you will breathe easier knowing you’re as ready as you can be. You’ll know what can happen and you’ll feel confident in your ability to survive. Even if the worst never happens, your family, neighborhood and community will have had the experience of preparing to survive as a bond. Any community that can work together is a good place to live.
Dr. Verona Fonté worked as a psychologist for over 20 years in Berkeley, California. She served as a member of a trauma team with a division of the Department of Justice for 12 years, and has worked with victims of large-scale traumas in several capacities. BIRD FLU WHAT TO DO: PREPARE TO SURVIVE provides ordinary citizens with a comprehensive blueprint for disaster preparedness, with special attention given to the conditions that may be present in a pandemic.
BUY THE E-BOOK OR THE SOFTCOVER BOOK
It's about disaster planning in general,with a special emphasis on what to do if there's a pandemic.
We highly recommend this book for our members and for people who live abroad.
George Puckett-Founder/Mexico-My Space