Disaster Management Preparedness…. Be ready in an emergency

The recent 2011 earthquake in Japan demonstrated that nature can strike a havoc in our lives without warning and with devastating consequences. Similarly India also faces annual natural disasters like monsoon flooding, cyclones, land slides etc that occur routinely every year and also relatively rare events like industrial disasters, massive earthquakes and tsunamis like the one that happened in 2004. It is never too late to be prepared for such an emergency however unlikely it may seem to happen.

Threat Assessment
The first thing you need to do is to estimate all the possible disasters you may be vulnerable to. People living in coastal locations of India are always vulnerable to floods and cyclones in the rainy season. People in the Himalayan and Deccan plateau are exposed to a significant risk of earthquakes and landslides. If you live near Nuclear or chemical plants, you may be vulnerable to what is called Nuclear-Biological-Chemical threats. Identifying the correct threat will help you in planning appropriately for an emenrgency. Sometimes there are more than one type of risks that may be applicable to you.

Get a Kit
You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer.

Some of the things you can keep for any kind of emergency

  • Water for 3 days, both for phyisical consumption and sanitary purposes. A large jerry cane is a convenient way to hold water
  • Three day supply of non-perishable food. Sealed ready to eat food or canned food is a good starting place
  • Can opener if you are packing canned food
  • Sanitation Supplies: try keeping disinfectants and a soap bar handy
  • A First Aid kit
  • Flashlight and batteries. Please make sure batteries are stored seperately and not left inside the flashlight during storage.
  • Blankets
  • Emergency Cash

It is best to keep these items stored in a convenient location in a small duffel bag, so that you do not waste time locating these things in an emergency.

Special Cases

Nuclear Radiation Fallout
There are three things you need to keep in mind during a nuclear radiation leak incident. Such a disaster may happen due to an accident, terrorism or warfare. To minimize exposure to radiation

  • Maximize distance between you and the source. The more distance between you and the source, the better it is. This could also mean evacuation or taking shelter indoors
  • Shielding: The more heavy dense material between you and the source, the better. A concrete structure will provide more protection than a wooden house
  • Timing: Most radioactivity loses its strength fairly quickly. this does not apply if the source that is emitting radiation has not been contained

Cancer Protection in the Event of a Nuclear Emergency

In 1982, US FDA approved the use of potassium iodide as a means to protect the thyroid gland from radiation poisoning due to nuclear plant emergencies. Radioactive iodine is the most common radioactive material released from fission products, which attacks the thyroid gland causing Thyroid cancer. By overwhelming the thyroid with a “stable isotope” of potassium iodide (KI), the body will not try to absorb the radioactive version.

For people over 12 years old, a 130 mg per day dose of KI is recommended by WHO. For detailed information CLICK HERE

Some known brands for thyroid protection are IOSAT, THYROSAFE (available on ebay.in when I last checked)

Note: KI only protects against thyroid cancer, it doesnt give any protection against other radioactive materials and dirty-bomb products that produce radionuclides rather than nucleoisotopes.

Note: Please DO NOT use iodized salt as a source of iodine in such cases. You may have to eat bucket loads of salt to get the required dosage of Iodine, which would probably kill you instantaneously

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* ready.gov
* fema.gov
* World Health Organization

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