How Not to Respond to a Disaster: Terrible Plans

Jun 27 2014

Disasters_ What Not To Do

When it comes to disasters, there are right and wrong ways to prepare and respond. While any type of early preparation may be thought of as good preparation, there exist actions and decisions that are counter-intuitive and just wrong when it comes to preparing or responding to a disaster. The chaos and confusion of a disaster situation can provoke interesting responses. These responses often fall under the realm of genuinely terrible ideas that often do more harm than benefit anyone. Some of these poor decisions are due to negligence, but some are simply a result of misunderstanding natural disasters. Here is a look at a few terrible responses for an idea of what not to do in particular disasters.

Running Outside During a Tornado


This is an example of the exact opposite of what you should do in the event of a tornado. Running outside to evade a tornado would seem counter intuitive and contrary to every instinct for survival a person has. Panic is a powerful emotional response to stressful situations like a roaring tornado and the mind is often acting on survival impulse, so rational assessment of a situation takes a back seat to the fight or flight urge. In this scenario, the urge is flight–directly into danger.

Whether from some external provocation like an injury or severe damage to the inside of the house, charging outside during a tornado is not as uncommon as it may sound. In many cases, a tornado may not actually be on top of the neighborhood, but miles away so getting outside may not seem entirely stupid. Most injuries and deaths from tornadoes are caused by falling structures, items, and flying debris. Leaving an enclosed structure and into the open air presents huge risk to injury from airborne debris. Don’t make this mistake; if a tornado hits, stay inside.

Driving During a Flood

hurricane flooding

Another example of counter-intuitive behavior during a disaster is driving during a flood. While there are always instances where this may be unavoidable or unintentional, if flood waters are high and rising, do not attempt to drive through them. Your vehicle will likely become stuck and possibly break down if the water is high enough and gets into the engine and transmission. There is also a real risk of becoming trapped in the vehicle and drowning if flood waters are severe enough. If you are caught in your vehicle when flood waters rise and cannot get home, leave your vehicle and get to higher ground immediately. Your vehicle will likely sustain serious water damage regardless of whether or not you try to drive it to safety, so it is best to protect yourself and abandon the vehicle.

Not Taking Cover in an Earthquake

earthquake crack

Earthquakes demand cover. The violent shaking as the earth’s plates grind causes debris and objects to shift, fall, and crumble around you. Taking cover as soon as the ground starts shaking is imperative to personal safety. Ignoring this instinct or failing to get to cover for another reason is a primary cause of deaths and injuries during an earthquake. While failing to take proper cover can be attributed to things like injury or lack of time of simply inadequate cover entirely, ignoring the drive to seek cover is just stupid and can result in serious injury. During strong earthquakes, it is not uncommon for lighting, ventilation, and even walls to fall or collapse. If you reside in an earthquake risk region, assess your surroundings and know where to take cover in the shortest amount of time if the ground starts shaking.

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