Preparing yourself for catastrophes is not just a Norwegian concern. Did anyone notice that Thursday October 13 was the United Nations International Day for Disaster Reduction?
The awareness-raising event happens every year. The idea is to engage everyone in thinking about dealing with disasters. The focus is on you--what individuals and families can do for themselves to prepare for and respond to disasters.
For example, the leaves are falling as autumn progresses. You may not think this has much to do with disaster reduction, but leaves and litter can clog drains, leading to localised flooding when it rains. A few centimetres of backed-up floodwater might not seem much, but it can cause hundreds of thousands of kroner of damage if it enters your house. Are you prepared?
Another option is First Aid. This is easy and fun to learn, plus everyone can carry around basic supplies. If you witness a car or bicycle crash, you can then help the injured people without putting yourself or others in danger.
Disaster reduction does not just apply at home, though. Hundreds of Norwegians were caught up in the tragic Boxing Day tsunami around the Indian Ocean in 2004. Recognising and responding to a tsunami might be useful not only for coastlines around Norway, but also when abroad.
Although a major earthquake only rattles Scandinavia approximately once-a-century, learning the correct reaction of “drop, cover, and hold on” could help you in San Francisco or Tokyo.
If the Day for Disaster Reduction meant nothing to you this year, then pick a day this week to make it your own personal Learn-About-Disasters Day. Also, choose one each month where you review what you know and what you have planned regarding disasters affecting you.
You could learn something new each time. It might help save your life one day.
Dr. Ilan Kelman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO).
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