Preparing for disaster anytime, anywhere

In the wake of several natural disasters, we remain unprepared. (/stock)

Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | September 11th, 2018

Natural disasters are a given in a landscape and territory as vast and diverse as the United States, but the recent barrage of disasters is leaving many citizens weary and ready to better prepare for the future.

Major natural phenomenons can completely uproot and disrupt lives, often changing them forever. 2018 brought with it an astounding number of disasters, including the California wildfires and several severe thunderstorms and hurricanes. Hurricane Harvey devastated swaths of homes in Houston last year; the effects of Hurricane Irma are still being felt in Puerto Rico.

For all of its obsession with preparedness during the Cold War era, where many families had copious extra supplies in their basements just in case that nuclear bomb dropped, Americans today are often remarkably unprepared for natural disaster. A survey done of Florida Key residents found that less than half of them actually obeyed the mandatory evacuation order that was issued when Hurricane Irma was about to hit.

Two professors from Wharton business school identified six factors that they believe contribute to this recent tendency towards being under-prepared for disaster, with a primary factor being optimism and selectivity. They hope that by tackling these factors one by one, people who live in disaster-prone areas can better protect what they have, just in case.

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