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What Holds Us Back From Being Prepared For A Disaster?


Emergency kits can contain everyday household items, like blankets, non-perishable food and communication devices like radios. 

Emergency kits can contain everyday household items, like blankets, non-perishable food and communication devices like radios. 

Alan Sylvestre/OPB

We know that a massive earthquake will hit the Pacific Northwest in the future. More specifically, we know there’s a 37 percent chance of it happening in the next 50 years. It will be deadly and devastating and fundamentally change the lives of residents here.

Yet we are massively unprepared, both on an institutional level, and, often, on a personal level. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has found that fewer than half of Americans have a survival kit or communication plan ready for a disaster. And when asked specifically about whether they have enough food or water to survive a disaster, the numbers drop further.

In a radio special as part of OPB’s “Unprepared” series, Think Out Loud producer Dave Blanchard explores what’s going on in our minds when we ignore and put off warnings about a looming disaster.

Click here to learn more about the psychology of preparedness.

About Unprepared

OPB’s Unprepared series is dedicated to stories that inform our community about the dangers of a megaquake, and to examining ways our region can be better prepared. Oregon Field Guide spent the last year-and-a-half probing the state’s level of preparedness. It found that Oregon is dangerously far behind many quake-prone regions in the world. Watch the hour-long Oregon Field Guide Unprepared special.

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