Apart from flooding, heavy snowfalls, and the very rare moderate earthquake, Germany is fairly immune to the sort of large scale natural disasters (i.e. Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, etc.) that plague many parts of the world.
And with the end of the cold war 25 years ago, the last big existential threat to Europe seemed to have vanished.
But between concerns over abrupt climate change, aging infrastructures (including nuclear plants), fears of terrorism, and renewed tensions between the East and West, the threats to Europe are once again elevated.
Germany - and other EU countries - do a great deal of planning and preparing for emergencies and natural disasters (see PloS Currents Art of Disaster Preparedness in European Union), but very little is ever said about individual preparedness.
That may be about to change, at least in Germany, where the press over the weekend has been filled with speculation that later this week the German government will mandate the stockpiling of emergency supplies by the public.
This from German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW):
A civil defense plan to be debated by the cabinet would require citizens to stockpile supplies in case of a catastrophe. The plan says people should prepare for an unlikely event that "could threaten our existence."
For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the German government plans to encourage its citizens to prepare for a catastrophe or armed attack by stockpiling food, water and other supplies, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" reported on Sunday.
Citing the government's "Concept for Civil Defense" paper to be discussed by the cabinet on Wednesday, the government will require people to stock 10 days worth of food and five days of worth of drinking water.
(Continue . . . )
Given the almost blasé approach to personal preparedness in Europe - where it is assumed that the government's response to any disaster would be both comprehensive and swift - this supposed turn around in public policy has caught the attention of many media outlets over the past 24 hours.
Whether or not this new mandate is adopted as described, this should serve as a wake up call to everyone - regardless of where they live - that nowhere is immune to disaster, and that the advantage always goes to those who are prepared to face it.
Every year in the United States FEMA and Ready.gov spend the month of September promoting National Preparedness Month through community events, drills, and exercises.
Despite these efforts, last year FEMA reported that Sixty Percent of Americans Not Practicing for Disaster, a number we will hopefully improve on this year.
Nothing says you need to wait until September to get started. So a few blogs from earlier this year may help you jump start your preparedness.