Preparedness items every household should have
I received a link to an article that appeared in a Liberian online newspaper (The Liberian Observer) earlier this week (thanks Judy), that lists the ten items people need to stockpile in their homes during the ongoing Ebola crisis. The article warns that food prices are going up as the economy falters, and that some items are already in short supply.
The advice offered is to buy up supplies while they are still available. From the article:
My advice to you: “Do that shopping that you’ve been putting off since last month.” Make sure you have mostly everything you need in the house (if not all) for you and your family for at least two to three months.
The problem, of course, is that few have the financial means to buy enough food and other supplies to last the recommended 60 to 90 days. If even 10% of Monrovia’s population followed through, the shelves would be emptied overnight, leaving nothing – save for hunger and rage – for those who followed.
It is, in the middle of a crisis, a recipe for chaos.
There is nothing wrong telling people to have an adequate supply of food, water, and other critical supplies on hand for an emergency. I advocate that sort of thing all the time. The problem is with the timing.
For Monrovians trapped by this Ebola outbreak – and indeed for anyone caught up in the middle of a major disaster – the logistical and ethical window of opportunity for that kind of aggressive stockpiling has already passed.
A link to the article, after which I’ll have a bit more.
Sun, 09/07/2014 - 19:35 admin
By: Makanfi Kamara
When last did you go shopping in one of the local markets or supermarkets? If recently, I’m sure you’ve noticed the rapid increase of prices on everything; and believe me, with time, it’s going to go from bad to worse. Unless you live in the interior or you are a complete and total mindless follower of the establishment media, you should be able to see very clearly that our society is more vulnerable now than it ever has been.
The items listed are pretty much the sorts of things you’d want here in the United States, or anywhere, for a prolonged crisis. And had this article suggested procuring a week, or even two, worth of supplies, or if it had been published several months ago - before the impact of Ebola outbreak really set in - I’d have no qualms about it.
As long as supply chains are intact, store shelves are full and capable of being restocked, and no major shortages exist it is not hoarding, selfish, or unethical to stockpile emergency supplies for you, your family, and others you might be able to assist during a disaster.
But once a crisis begins, once shortages appear, it becomes a whole different proposition to go out and buy up a 3-month supply of food, or other essentials. Even if it were possible, I suspect doing so would not go unnoticed by those in dire need, and it would likely put a target on your back.
Ten days ago, in NPM 2014: Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare, I wrote about how quickly mass stockpiling can lead to a supply chain breakdown, in that case sparking the great toilet paper shortage of 1973.
While I don’t advocate that every household have a three-month supply of food, water, and other necessities on hand, I heartily recommend at least 10 days of essentials, and thirty days isn’t unreasonable.
September is National Preparedness Month, and FEMA and Ready.gov are urging all Americans to become better prepared to weather a disaster. While they recommend (as a bare minimum) sufficient emergency supplies to last 72 hours, they – and local emergency management officials – would be happier to see you with a week or ten days on hand (see When 72 Hours Isn’t Enough).
But the only good time to acquire these things is now – before the next disaster strikes.