Natural Disasters Point to Value of ‘Drills,’ PreparednessThe recent floods that took place in Australia and Brazil offer a perfect example of why preparedness and emergency drills are critical. Brazil’s history has almost been free of catastrophic disasters, except for the flooding that has occurred recently. It’s surprising that Brazil—an advanced country with plenty of technological expertise and resources—has been affected so immensely by these floods.
To date, the flood taking place in Australia started on December 23, 2010, and is reported to continue until February 4, 2011. The floods taking place in Brazil began around January 11-12, 2011, and the heavy rainfall is expected to continue until the end of January. Currently, there have been more casualties in Brazil than Australia. Death tolls in Brazil exceed 800 and continue to rise, while the number in Australia is currently set at 22. The explanation for the difference has more to do with Brazil's lack of preparedness for such a natural disaster.
Australia hasn't experienced any floods causing major damage since 1970, but the increase of annual cyclones and minor floods pushed officials to develop and implement early-warning systems and evacuation guidelines that citizens were drilled on regularly. Within the past couple of years, Brazil has seen an increase in the number of floods, high winds and storms. Last year, Brazil developed a national emergency management system, but failed to integrate it into areas such as Rio, where citizens were not evacuated before the heavy rains began and where many of the deaths were reported.
According to a Safe America survey conducted by Zogby International and underwritten by Federal Signal, 61% of respondents believe that they have sufficient knowledge about proper safety procedures, such as an evacuation plan. However, only 46% of those surveyed actually have an evacuation or emergency plan in place.
The Safe America Foundation believes that practicing emergency drills before an event, such as the flooding in Australia and Brazil, or having a plan in place can be the difference between life and death. Safe America President & CEO Len Pagano notes that plans are underway now for an expanded season of ‘drilling’ this September during National Preparedness Month.
“It’s important that America acknowledges the importance in preparedness and arrange and exercise a proper plan before a disaster hits,” Pagano said. “With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 coming up, we expect to have 1 million people involved, and we are working now on plans for a ‘March to 1 Million’ with First Spouses, FEMA, NCS-4, IAEM, NORC, NAEMT, ALAN, PTA and the US Chamber of Commerce, among others.”.
For more information on Disaster kits or how you can ‘be prepared, not scared™,’ visit Safe America’s Disaster Training Tools or call Bob Surrusco at (770)-973-7233.
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