A lot of people mistakenly believe that they are being prudent by waiting for more confirmation of an impending crisis before they get serious about their personal preparations. Frankly, I think that this is a fatal mistake based upon these reasons:
1) The supply and demand system which provides all of us our goods does not have the capacity or resilience to deal with mass panic buying. During Y2K, in my business (food), backlogs reached 10 months in 1998. Less then 2% of the population responded to the Y2K threat.
2) Any serious national crisis could easily result in shortages and product supply demands made by the US government. Nationalizing any critical supplies could occur overnight. This could affect warehouses, grain silos and distribution centers – instantly.
3) Transportation can stop – instantly. Remember 9/11 and all the grounded airplanes for weeks? What if that had been a biological contaminent? Stopping shipping and all forms of transportation is the only way to stop plague or infectious disease from spreading. Those “locked down” – in or out of a quarantine area are going to be stuck with whatever they’ve got. What’s in your pantry, right now?
If you’re in a quarantined area – you will either get sick and die, or worse, starve to death. If you’re outside a quarantined area, there might be limited shipping available to you. Maybe. You will have to “make do” with whatever you have.
It all boils down to capacity – which can be quickly overwhelmed by a massive population “surge” in an emergency situation.
The following article is from NPR – [my comments inserted in brackets] – Admin
Listen to this story… by Jon Hamilton
Morning Edition, January 10, 2006 · If the current bird-flu outbreak becomes a pandemic, fear could turn to panic. Experts say whether that happens will probably depend on how honest governments are with the public. [honest government is an oxymoron]
In the flu pandemic of 1918, there was enough panic that society began to disintegrate in some cities, says historian John Barry, author of The Great Influenza.
“Close blood relatives were so frightened that they would not feed a family where people were starving to death,” he says.
But Barry says that sort of panic wasn’t caused by the flu alone. It came after [b]officials tried to reassure the public by telling half-truths, and even lies.[/b]
The surgeon general even tried to convince people that the 1918 virus was no worse than an ordinary influenza. [2% – 3% mortality rate. Bird flue is 50%]
“The obvious lies led to a breakdown in all trust in authority,” Barry says. “People understood very rapidly that this was not ordinary influenza, given the horrific symptoms, given the enormous death toll. Given the fact that people were dying sometimes within 24 hours after the first symptoms.”
[trust in authority is not very high now. With the much higher mortality rate of bird flue, this translates into instant, mass panic.]
When people can’t trust the government, they turn to other sources of information, including rumors. The result can be extreme behavior. [hah, that’s funny. Governments are monitoring rumors via Internet bulletin boards, seeking to glean valid information. What this signifies is that the Internet CAN be a valid source of accurate information, but you still have to sort through the rumors and misrepresentations.]
Barry says that’s what happened in Phoenix in 1918.
“Rumors spread that dogs were carrying the disease,” he says. “People started killing their pets. And if people didn’t have the heart to kill their own pets, their dogs, they gave them to the cops and the cops were killing them.
Of course, it was people spreading the disease, not dogs.
U.S. health officials say such episodes have taught them how important it is to tell the full truth. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt has been making a point of describing a potential flu pandemic in graphic terms. [I’ve heard from at least one customer regarding Leavitt. He’s scaring the hell out of people.]
But in some Asian countries, officials have been less forthcoming about bird flu, or the deadly outbreak of SARS.
China offers a good example of what not to do, says Peter Sandman, a risk communications expert in Princeton, N.J.
“The only panic we saw during the SARS outbreaks was in China,” Sandman says. “It was as a result of the Chinese government misleading people about the existence of SARS in China, which the Chinese government maintained it was doing in order to prevent panic.”
Sandman calls this “panic panic.” He says it occurs when the government fears the public can’t handle the truth. He says that’s a mistake.
[hahaha, like our government here in the US likes to tell us the truth…. I can list thousands of examples in the last ten years that reveal that truth-telling is not in their vernacular.]
“Panic is very rare,” he says. “I think a pandemic is likelier to provoke panic than almost any other catastrophe. But even in a pandemic, most of the time, most people don’t panic. They get very frightened and very upset and they feel panicky and they cope.” [I hope he’s right. But I doubt it, we live in a very different culture then 1918.]
Sandman says U.S. officials have offered some false reassurances about bird flu. For example, they like to remind people that the bird-flu virus has yet to infect any birds in this country. But Sandman says that doesn’t make most of us any safer.
It really doesn’t matter whether birds in the U.S. get the virus, Sandman says. What matters is whether the virus has begun spreading easily from person to person.
“Unless you’re in the poultry industry, your risk is not significantly increased when (the virus) comes to local birds,” Sandman says. “The risk of eating chicken is marginally increased, so there is some real change, but very small. The risk of a pandemic doesn’t change at all.”
Recent efforts to reassure Americans suggest that the Bush Administration hasn’t fully learned the lessons of the 1918, says Dr. Jody Lanard, a psychiatrist who is married to Sandman and works with him on bird-flu risk.
“That’s why we end up having President Bush on his first major pandemic statement talking about martial law,” Lanard says. [Bush has many reasons to institute martial law, including staying out of jail, cya, etc.]
She says such talk is a symptom of “panic panic.” [Who’s the one panicing here? President Bush? If that is indeed the case, we are in serious trouble.]
Lanard says what the president should be doing is encouraging “the kind of public resilience that we do see after most hurricanes, and that we did see in the World Trade Center.”
“They’re going to the rare, unusual case of public hysteria and disorder, instead of counting on the public to be the way Americans usually are — highly, highly resilient.” [Perhaps the Administration is incompetent? Or they know something we don’t know?]
Lanard says officials can tap into that resilience by telling people how they can work together to protect themselves even when things get really bad. [Good advice, we are all in this together, the “us” .vs. “them” is total BS.]
Update – China hiding Bird Flu Cases