As we enter the last 30 days of 2013, we in the preparedness community often take stock of our efforts to see what we did well and where we can improve. Sadly, it takes little to be better prepared than most people. Consider last year's Adelphi University study on the level American preparedness.
Below is a summary of some of the striking findings from our 2012 poll of U.S. adults:
- 44 percent don’t have first-aid kits
- 48 percent lack emergency supplies
- 53 percent do not have a minimum three-day supply of nonperishable food and water at home
- 55 percent believe local authorities will come to their rescue if disaster strikes
- 52 percent have not designated a family meeting place if they are separated during an emergency
- 42 percent do not know the phone numbers of all of their immediate family members
- 21 percent don’t know if their workplace has an emergency preparedness plan
- 37 percent do not have a list of the drugs they are taking
- 52 percent do not have copies of health insurance documents
And yet, I am hopeful.
I'm hopeful not because only 53 percent of Americans don't have enough food on hand to survive a three day emergency (that's an ice storm in the Deep South, a hurricane making landfall in New England, or a significant earthquake on the West coast), but because we continue to see more evidence that private sector innovation - and not government disaster or entitlement programs - will be the deciding factor in how well we extract ourselves from emergencies.
This innovation by our friends at IKEA - known for their shelving systems, quirky stores and cryptic assembly instructions - demonstrates once again that when the private sector is able to innovate, it can change lives dramatically. Consider their newest invention: a completely foldable, solar powered disaster shelter for refugees.
Technology for preparedness applications continues to improve in quality and affordability. Twenty years ago, having a portable solar power system to recharge wireless devices and energy efficient lighting was little more than an article in Popular Mechanics. These technological improvements - from the private sector - will no doubt improve the lives of people around the globe and give preppers here at home access to some incredible tools for being better prepared.
When we are better able to meet the basic needs of disaster victims, a nation rebounds quicker and with less societal costs. Innovations like this are critical to a community's ability to recover.