As hip as it may sound to talk about zombies, the end if the world and a doomsday apocalypse, the reality is that a disaster is anything but cool and hip.
As we look back in modern history, we will find countless instances where a disaster, whether man-made or a freak of nature, has wreaked unexpected havoc, destruction and panic.
The recovery process is long, and the level of organization and dedication required to successfully mobilize resources is huge.
That brings me to the topic of today’s article:
“70 Things That Can Go Wrong in a Disaster.”
I recently came across a listing of things that can go wrong during and following a disaster and while the list is not my original work, I felt that it was a list worth sharing.
Some of the points are common knowledge, but others were surprising and to be honest, a bit disconcerting as well. Most of the 70 items are negative and many go against what we commonly believe will occur as first responders and rescuers come on the scene.
So what is a prepper to do?
Read through the list, remind yourself that trained personnel are human too, and that even with the best of training, mistakes will be made.
Things that will go wrong in a disaster
1. In an earthquake, there may be violent ground shaking; it will seem to last much longer than it actually does.
2. Fires will occur, caused by electrical shorts, natural gas, fireplaces, stoves, etc.
3. Fires in collapsed buildings will be very difficult to control.
4. The extent of the disaster will be difficult to assess, though this will be necessary to assure proper commitment of resources.
5. Emergency equipment and field units will commit without being dispatched. There will be an air of urgency and more requests for aid than units available to send.
6. Communications will be inadequate; holes will appear in the system and air traffic will be incredibly heavy.
7. Trained personnel will become supervisors because they will be too valuable to perform hands-on tasks.
8. Responding mutual aid units will become lost; they will require maps and guides.
9. Water will be contaminated and unsafe for drinking. Tankers will be needed for fire fighting and for carrying drinking water.
10. Citizens will volunteer but their commitment will usually be short-term.
11. There may be a multitude of hazardous materials incidents.
12. Aircraft will flood the area; law enforcement, fire, media, civilian, commercial and military aircraft will be a major concern.
13. The Command Post and/or EOC will be overrun with non-essential personnel; media, geologists, architects, engineers, representatives from other jurisdictions, etc.
14. Staging will be essential; the flow of personnel, equipment and supplies will be overwhelming.
15. Although it is an EOC function, the Field Command Post will become the temporary seat of government.
16. Electric power will be interrupted or will fail completely.
17. It will be difficult to shut off the gas; valves that are seldom, if ever, used will be difficult to find, and may not work when they are found.
18. Phone service will be erratic or non-existent. Pay phones will be the most reliable.
19. The media will have the best communications available; be prepared to share or impound their resources.
20. Fuel will not be available because there will be no electricity to run the pumps.
21. There will be an epidemic of flat tires; police, fire, and emergency medical vehicles will sustain a multitude of flat tires that will require repair in the field.
22. Fires will need to be investigated; mutual aid should include arson investigators.
23. The primary police department concern will be law enforcement; there will not be sufficient time or manpower to provide miscellaneous services.
24. It will be dark; there will not be enough generators or lights available.
25. Portable toilets will be in demand; there will be no place to go, and if a place is found there will be six photographers there to cover the event.
26. The perimeter will be difficult to control; citizens and media alike will offer good reasons why they should be allowed to enter the restricted area.
27. Search dogs will be needed early in the operation.
28. Documentation will be very important; there will be a multitude of requests for information later.
29. Riveted steel (oil and water storage) tanks may fail.
30. Streets will be impassable in some areas; it will be necessary to clear streets of rubble in order to conduct emergency operations.
31. The same buildings will be searched more than once unless they are clearly marked.
32. In earthquakes, there will be after shocks; they will hamper emergency operations, create new fears among the citizenry and may cause more destruction than the original shock.
33. Many injured people will have to find their own way to medical treatment facilities.
34. Volunteer and reserve personnel may be slow to respond; they will put their own families’ safety first.
35. On-duty public safety personnel will be concerned about their own families, and some may leave their posts to check on them.
36. Law enforcement and the media will clash; all media representatives should be referred to the Public Information Officer.
37. Very few citizens will utilize evacuation/mass care centers; they will prefer to stay with friends and relatives, or to camp out in their own yards.
38. Structural engineers will be needed to evaluate standing buildings for use as evacuation centers, command posts, information centers, first aid stations.
39. The identification of workers and volunteers will be a problem; it will be difficult to determine who is working where and on what.
40. There will be rumors; people will be listening to their radios and must be given accurate information.
41. There will not be enough handheld radios and batteries will soon go dead.
42. Many fire hydrants will be inaccessible (covered or destroyed by rubble) or inoperable.
43. Generators will run out of fuel; jerry cans of fuel must be obtained early to maintain generator powered lighting and communications.
44. Critical facilities will have to be self-sufficient; gas, lights, water and sewage may be out for days.
45. Emergency responders will require rest and must be relieved. Local personnel may be of value as guides for mutual aid responders, or as supervisors for volunteer crews.
46. Equipment will be lost, damaged or stolen, and may never be accounted for.
47. Someone will get the bill; record-keeping and accounting procedures will be important.
48. Traditional non-emergency personnel will want to go home at 5 o’clock; all public employees must be made to realize that they are a part of the emergency response team.
49. People will die and there is nothing that can be done about it. Non-public safety personnel will not understand why everyone cannot be saved. Priorities must be set to save the most lives possible.
50. Dead bodies should not be an initial concern. Rescuing the living should be the first priority.
51. If phones are working, the number of requests for service will be overwhelming. People will have to fend for themselves; it will be difficult for dispatchers to ignore these pleas for help.
52. Some field units will disappear; you will not be able to reach them and will not know where they are or what they are doing.
53. Security will have to be posted at hospitals, clinics, and first-aid stations to control hysterical citizens demanding immediate attention.
54. Representatives from public agencies throughout the United States and many foreign countries will want to come and observe the operations or offer assistance. They will be a significant problem.
55. Department heads (EOC) staff may not have a working knowledge of their assigned areas of responsibility, and will play it by ear.
56. Some citizens and media representatives will question your decisions because they will not recognize that the safety of field responders is paramount.
57. There are no critically injured in a disaster; only those who are dead or alive.
58. Handicapped and disabled persons will probably die unless personal family and friends can care for them and maintain their life-support systems.
59. Management will not be familiar with field response procedures, and may attempt to change standard operating procedures.
60. Emergency responders (public safety and medical alike) will not be adequately trained to respond efficiently.
61. There will be initial chaos; supplies, materials and equipment needed will not be readily available.
62. There will be a general lack of necessary information; coordinators will want to wait for damage/casualty assessment information to establish priorities.
63. Emergency equipment will not be able to reach some locations because of traffic jams. Tow trucks will be at a premium. Parked or abandoned vehicles will block streets, and emergency responders will be the worst offenders.
64. Even though there will not be enough people to initially deal with emergencies, many available personnel will never be identified and never used. After the initial shock, there will be too many volunteers.
65. General information will be offered in response to specific questions because field units cannot verify the requested information.
66. Individual public safety officers will be asked to do the work of squads or companies; they will have to recruit volunteers on the spot to provide assistance to their efforts.
67. The message flow to, from, and within the EOC and Field Command Post will break down and become inefficient and unmanageable.
68. There will be an over critical desire to verify all incoming information. If it is received from a field unit, it should be considered as verified.
69. Some EOC and Command Post personnel will become overloaded; some will not be able to cope with the volume of activity and information they have to deal with, and some will not be able to cope with the noise and distractions.
70. Things will get better some time after they have become considerably worse.
The Final Word
As you read through this list of 70 things that can go wrong following a disaster, realize that while many of these things may not happen each and every time there is an emergency, many of them will indeed occur. And it is true. Things will get better – eventually – but they may also get a lot worse than you can imagine before the road to recovery begins.
As a layman citizen, think about your own needs now and how they might be impacted in an emergency. Recognize and acknowledge up front that if things can go wrong, they will. Go back and re-visit your most basic prepping skills and supplies by reviewing 12 Months of Prepping. And of course, continue to stow away extra food, water and especially tools that will help get you through if a disaster occurs in your community. Couple that with basic outdoor skills and a bit of faith and you will have done your best to prepare.
Click here for the original article.
Can you think of anything that we missed?
Let me know below!
Although at present, the authorities may not agree, the better YOU are prepared both physically and mentally for this type of devastation, the better off THEY will be.
If you have dutifully prepped for your family with food and supplies, including the “down and dirty” worst case med supplies,and the skills to use them, you will be ahead of the game. Have several means of cooking available, from outside gas to charcoal. And have several types of lighting too from battery operated to lanterns.
You should also be prepared for the first responders to NOT respond in a major event. They may be busy with those who were nearest their dispatch, or may not be able to get to your location because of rubble. Many of them left their posts in New Orleans to take care of their own families. Can you blame them??
Be prepared for anything. Also for great medical info go to thepatriotnurse.com for invaluable info on everything from the very basic to the extreme med care. She discusses a variety of scenarios, from the brief to long term, including diseases and even childbirth!
Clean water will be a need. For about $50 buy a Sawyer water filter and a few 5 gallon water cooler type water containers. It filters by gravity 500+ gallons a day so you can share and supply others as well. 1 million gallon guarantee. Well worth $50. Be able to capture rain water from gutters in a pool too for supply. keep some gallons of bleach on hand to treat standing water supplies long term.
Thanks for the advice, ScottA. I was about to purchase a water filter from a competitor at around $300, but ordered one of Sawyer’s instead. Thanks for the savings!
good one, thanks
Rain? This is southern California. THERE IS NO RAIN !!!
Contaminated water? You will pray for contaminated water that you can boil, but the underground water pipes will be ripped to pieces. Firefighting? How you going to fight fires with no water?
This is all very discouraging. I want to move to Arizona where nothing ever goes wrong: no earthquakes, tidal waves, drought, government economic collapse, corruption, mudslides, firestorms, race riots, Hollywood propaganda, gun control, or fun!
Is it ok to print up this information and share it with those in my church and community? There is a gold mine of info here. As I read it helped me to see what obstacles might lie in the way for all of us. If I could share this I would very much appreciate it. Thanks again.
I do not object to Rita attempting to put off the earthquake with prayer, but science and history tell us that such earthquakes have happened before and are certain to happen again. Most likely in the southern San Andereas fault. Los Angeles best be prepared for moderate damage and a million refugees from San Diego (which will be totally smashed). The gods help those who help themselves.
I guess you could call this, 70 reasons why not to rely on your government.
As a former news photographer I covered many disasters in CA, both major and minor (earthquakes,riots,fires etc.)
and have seen most of the 70 things go wrong. Prepare yourself and don’t expect help from first responders for the first 48 to 72 hours.
I do not think that air traffic control will be a big problem. I remember one day in 1995 looking just one mile west, and the sky was BLACK with helicopters following and photographing O.J.Simpson’s “slow speed chase”. Amazingly, there were no aircraft accidents.
The media will not be the best communications available…they will be busy broadcasting the ‘personal interest’ story to those across the country…not providing communications for people within the disaster zone. State and local emergency services will provide much of the needed communications, and military and national guard will provide what they have available.
But there is one source many do not realize even exists which has provided virtually the only emergency communications available in some disasters such as the Mexico City earthquake and Katrina just to name 2 of the big ones…the ARRL ARES.
Amateur Radio Emergency Services is an organization of amateur radio operators trained and equipped to serve during disasters. More can be learned about this organization at http://www.arrl.org/ares
I agree with Don that the media will be a mouthpiece for the official government effort to avoid panic. Red Cross tells you to have an AM/FM radio to receive the word from the media. You are far better off with a police scanner (which also can receive AM/FM). In the Rodney King riots of 1992 my scanner allowed me to detour around a gunfight in progress that the media did not mention. And if you are a radio ham, your VHF/UHF handheld can fill this need and more… if you are able to keep it charged.
For your radio, you will need a car charger AND a solar charger.
What about cell phones? We had a magnitude 1.5 earthquake a few years ago. That is equivalent to a kid on a skateboard coasting past your house. And the cell phones went down for 10 hours. The entire cell phone network is very fragile. Don’t count on it. The ham radio repeaters may be more sturdy, but they will be overwhelmed.
For absolutely total asteroid impact apocalypse disaster, learn to do text messages. With Morse code you can always find a way to get messages through, by flashlight, hand signals, sound, tapping on prison walls, or even by blinking your eye. Also, learn and share with your family members the rudiments of a crypto system. Playfair is ok for short messages, and was good enough for John Kennedy’s message on a coconut in WW II. (But is easily cracked for long messages.) Code is a precious survival skill that is rapidly being lost to ham radio. And it is free! You just have to learn it.
There are MANY things you left off the list. I am referring to TEOTWAWKI/SHTF type scenario’s, not a natural disaster. In that situation, you would not be working WITH Government agencies, but the opposite, as they ARE the problem then. There will be racial violence, looters/marauders, house to house raids, supplies from external sources would be non-existent, etc. I won’t enumerate them here in open communication, but a diligent Google search yields a wealth of information. To adequately envision the scenario I described, combine aspects from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Vietnam War, Race Riots,Mad Max, and Enemy of the State … You’ll get the picture then!
First priority should be to prepare for certain disasters, second priority for expected disasters, and so on down the list. I am making no preparations at all for zombie attack. Here in southern Cal, the certain big disaster is earthquake. We all know it will happen; we just don’t know when.
It is paramount that if you have the means and ability to prepare yourself and family it IS your responsibility to do so. I have been responding to national disasters and teach ICS(Incident Command System)all across the country for over 20 years. ALL disasters are local disasters first. First responders cannot do it all. The states cannot do it all. The federal government cannot do it all. In todays entitlement society I see so many people who do not have to take personal responsibility for their day to day lives. They do not have the skills, supplies or attitude to be self sufficient. Why would you think things would be different in a disaster. Look at your community and region. What are the most likely disasters that could befall your area? Do the best you can to prepare for these first. Find out if there is a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program in your area. Take this FEMA supported civilian training. It will help you prepare and understand disaster response and psychology.
Be Prepared and Stay Safe.
One more thing, they will try to keep you from helping anybody when they don’t know what they are doing. And have you sign a contract saying you can’t help without their ok.
70 reasons to avoid cities at all cost!
In Summary: Be prepared to fend for yourself, family and neighbors. If outside help is available, consider yourself LUCKY.
Add one item to the list:
71. One year after the disaster, insurance companies that have not gone bankrupt will refuse to pay claims because of loopholes carefully crafted into their policies by the lawyers.
(Actually, this already happened in a previous earthquake.)
As I add these comments, I know that we are in a temporary time of greatly increased risk of massive disaster. That is because I am presently suffering from a broken left leg, and a broken right foot as a result of a fall. What better time to cut me off from the medical attention I need? The increased risk will go away in a few more weeks as my injuries and surgery heal.
My advice: don’t get old! And if you do, don’t rush when you go down stairs!
Martial law will be declared and the military and police will try to confiscate any weapons you have.