The ongoing drought in the American Midwest and other parts of the world is raising concerns around the globe regarding water supplies, the price of food, and fuel. The extremely hot and dry conditions in the Midwest have decimated the output of what was anticipated as a great growing season for crops such as corn, soybeans, and wheat. The effects of this drought have many scrambling to prepare as prices on these commodities reach record highs.
The US supplies significant portions of the world’s corn, soybean, and wheat crops. This year saw a great start to the growing season and the early plantings are now jeopardized by the hot and dry conditions of the worst drought in decades. The price of corn, soybeans, and wheat have spiked as a result of the continued dry forecast. Although the northern Midwest may receive decent rainfall to push production for later planted crops, the predictions are still dire overall.
In addition to use for human consumption, much of the corn and soy is used in animal feed. Due to the laws of supply and demand, limited quantities of expensive corn and soybeans are expected to have an impact on the price of meat and dairy as well. Dried up pastures and expensive food supply may drive up the price of meat and dairy products.
Initially, the price of meat may spike in reaction to reduced supplies of feed. Soon after the price of meat may actually plummet as animals are brought to market early, driven by the elevated feed costs. This dip in price will be short-lived. Meat will again become more expensive before dwindled herds are replenished and feed is more abundant and affordable. Corn is also used to produce the gasoline additive ethanol and spikes in the price of fuel can have an inflationary effect across many markets due to increased transport costs.
Where does this leave consumers caught off guard and ill-prepared to contend with the consequences? Best forecasts see short-term challenges resulting from this year’s drought, mitigated by better conditions for the next growing season. Unfortunately, should the US experience another dry season, food shortages and climbing prices may lead to greater struggles. In an already troubled economy, survival preparations to contend with water and food shortages is prudent when social stability is threatened by these converging factors.
It is advised to consider your emergency planning for short-term and long-term durations. In addition to survival kits stocked with supplies to last 72 hours, it’s important to plan for consequences that reach beyond the initial impact of a crisis. This is evidenced by the years passed since Hurricane Katrina, as survivors are still adapting to the changes resulting from that devastating disaster.
An article recently put out by Kiplinger.com provides practical suggestions for disaster preparedness in response to the recent wildfires and damaging storms across the United States. 7 steps to prepare for disaster advises gathering important documentation to secure identity and finances as part of strategies for surviving an emergency event.
Among the seven suggestions, Kiplinger details the importance of saving money and securing insurance to help in times of disaster. In case you miss work, lose your job, or die, these preparations can provide financial support through difficult times. Gathering important documents as part of disaster planning can help establish your identity and secure your finances at the time help is most needed.
As part of building an emergency kit, waterproof survival supplies are a practical purchase. Waterproof kits and watertight containers stay dry and preserved for when they are needed. Flashlights, communication devices, and other electronics need to be in working order for dependable use in an emergency, and these items must stay dry to work properly. Paperwork should also be stored in a waterproof or even fireproof container.
In the event of difficulties, a FEMA recommended two week supply of food and water in your home can be as life sustaining during financial difficulties as in a weather related emergency or other crisis. Having adequate nourishment in trying times is important for both physical and mental well-being. Two weeks may be enough to get through to a better circumstance, or it may provide some time to take steps to adapt with plans towards recovery.
A train derailment in Ohio early this morning resulted in an explosion and fire causing dangerous conditions which forced an evacuation of a one-mile radius of the disaster. It is reported that eleven train cars derailed creating an explosion and igniting a fire on several of the cars. Thousands of gallons of ethanol were burning, and firefighters and other emergency personnel contained the blaze and evacuated the surrounding area as a precautionary measure. This unsettling event is another example of how disasters hit suddenly and unexpectedly.
Fortunately, only a couple of people have reported injuries, but concerns were high due to the presence of styrene and ethanol on the train. Styrene is a component used to make plastic and acts as a nerve agent when burning fumes are inhaled. Train personnel sustained no injuries and the fire was contained to a couple of train cars as of this morning. The locomotives and several of the train cars were removed from the scene of the derailment. The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to conduct an investigation.
Spontaneous crises such as this train derailment in Ohio demonstrate the importance of emergency preparedness. Preparedness in this instance would be a bug out bag or similar evacuation kits which may include first aid supplies, respirator masks, a family emergency plan, food and water, and other survival supplies. These handy kits keep emergency supplies and information together and accessible for high pressure situations such as an evacuation.
In the event of fire and uncertainty regarding the presence of chemicals as was the case following the Ohio train derailment the ability to flee the scene in a timely fashion without panicking is enabled by a ready-to-go evacuation kit. Instead of fumbling around and wasting precious seconds looking for important supplies or documents, you can simply grab your kit and go. Supplies and a plan of action will help you adapt to the conditions of a disaster environment with agile response.
Basic emergency survival planning generally involves gathering food and supplies for a few days to outlast a severe storm, power outage, or other rather isolated event. Creating a survival kit for this purpose is a fundamentally sound effort to stay safe and comfortable through smaller emergencies. However, contingency plans should also be considered in case of a more serious, disaster level emergency.
The fires presently blazing in Colorado bring to mind the need for emergency survival preparedness on many levels. Water is critical to survival in any emergency, and the present coverage offers a great learning opportunity for everyone paying attention. The high number of evacuations in response to the raging wildfires has given many people plenty to contemplate. The media coverage has fortunately been a true eye-opener for folks to think about what-if scenarios and start taking steps towards preparedness.
In the case of a home or geographic evacuation, it is advisable to be prepared with important documents regarding such information as your identity, financial accounts, addresses and contact information for friends and family, and relevant medical history. Keep a flash drive or notebook on hand as part of your survival kit as well as in a secure off-site location such as a safety deposit box. A supply of cash and an emergency credit card are also important for purchases such as food and shelter.
A very informative article from National Geographic News addresses the water crisis related to the wildfires. Colorado Wildfires Threaten Water Supplies highlights the impact on the water supply and eco-system. Human efforts to contend with complications from the fires involve careful surveillance and strategizing to help generate a favorable outcome based on lessons learned from large-scale fires in recent history.
The strong relationship between water and fire has put a spotlight on the quality and quantity of water supplies in Colorado and neighboring areas. In terms of emergency preparedness, water collection and filtration are practical strategies that can be useful in restoration and recovery following a disastrous event. As we are seeing in the case of the Colorado wildfires, the scale of the water use and contamination will continue to be a factor for area residents to contend with far into the foreseeable future.