Disaster Preparedness is a Long Game

As we enter further into the 21st century, hazards seem to be cropping up left and right, and unfortunately, not everyone is prepared to face them. Even with the importance of disaster preparedness being more widely known, we are lagging behind in our ability to handle unexpected events.

Whether it’s individuals, businesses, or entire communities, the need to be prepared for potential disasters cannot be overstated.

adult handing seedling covered in dirt to a child

Why is preparedness so difficult for most of us?

Why is it so tough to get ready for the unexpected? One explanation is that it’s tricky to predict exactly what kinds of disasters might strike and how much damage they could cause, leaving us unsure of where to focus our efforts. We cannot focus on everything, so often our prioritization goes to what we know may happen in the foreseeable future.

Whether you’re a city or a resident, getting ready for emergencies can be quite a drain on our wallets, schedules, and energy levels, making it even more difficult to commit to consistent preparedness.

Jeffrey Schlegelmilch the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Climate School writes “While the importance of disaster preparedness is widely recognized, many people and communities remain unprepared for disaster. This is due in part to the difficulty of accurately assessing the likelihood and impact of disasters and the significant investments of time, money, and resources required to prepare for them.”

In other words, preparation is a complex process that requires significant effort and resources. This means it can be tough to get started, and even tougher to stick with it once you have.

But the rewards for taking the time to prepare for disasters are tremendous. When an unexpected event does occur, those who are prepared will fare much better.

    Preparedness is a long game

    Put bluntly, preparedness is about playing the long game. There’s never a short-term return on investment. The investment is for future years and possibly future generations.

    Investing in preparedness is like planting a tree – it may not give immediate results, but it nurtures future growth.

    We’re living proof of the impact of previous generations’ preparedness efforts. However, not everyone has access to the resources and information needed to prepare, and those in marginalized communities are hit hardest by disasters. Their recovery is a steep uphill climb without adequate preparation.

    We also know that disasters disproportionately affect low-income and marginalized communities, which may have fewer resources and less access to information and support to help them prepare. The lack of preparedness directly impacts their ability to recover once hit by a crisis, which means that their recovery is dramatically more difficult than a more privileged resident.

    When Mr. Schlegelmilch says, “We need to create a culture of preparedness that recognizes the importance of individual and community action in reducing disaster risk,” I completely agree. Our communities simply are not investing enough in disaster risk reduction, community engagement, and public awareness of community risk.

    It’s time we take a hard look at our priorities. We can no longer simply talk about disaster risk reduction, community engagement, and public awareness without investing the necessary resources to make a difference.

    By neglecting these critical investments, we are putting ourselves at risk of devastating consequences. Let’s take action to protect our communities and be proactive in disaster preparedness.

    Disaster preparedness is essential for the safety and well-being of individuals, businesses, and entire communities. It is a complex process that requires significant effort and resources to be successful. The importance of buy-in from leaders and residents cannot be underestimated.

    We must recognize the importance of investing in preparedness measures to reduce the risk of potential disasters. By taking the time to prepare ourselves and our communities, we can protect ourselves and ensure a better future for generations to come.

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