Over the past few days, I’ve been asking my colleagues (on Twitter and in person) for common disaster myths they’ve encountered. I think I’ll start a series of disaster myth-busting blog posts in which I dissect some of the myths out there in regards to disasters, FEMA, and other organizations active in disasters.
Here is a short list of disaster myths (please feel free to comment to add more!).
- Disasters bring out the worst in society (also addressing “mass panic”)
- Disaster response and recovery is solely a governmental responsibility
- Damages from an improvised nuclear device (IND) are so catastrophic, there’s no use in preparing for it.
- Using the “Triangle of Life” concept during an earthquake is safer than the “duck, cover, and hold on” method.
- BlackBerry PIN-to-PIN messages are more resilient than other carriers’ SMS or text messages.
- Opening windows before a tornado strikes will equalize the pressure inside of the house and prevent more extensive damages or roof failure.
- Hiding underneath a highway overpass is a safe location during a tornado.
- FEMA will pay for any damages after any disaster
- Wireless Priority Service (WPS) / Government Emergency Telephone System (GETS) cards will override any non-prioritized callers.
- FEMA is a bloated, bureaucratic agency that is slow to respond and ends up taking over disaster operations from the local-level agencies.
- The government will be able to assist me immediately after a disaster.
- The US military can always be called in to provide disaster relief.
I’m extremely grateful for the contributions/suggestions by Shannon Buckland, Patrice Cloutier, Bryan Damis, Jim Garrow, Alisha Griswold, R. Kelzenberg, Steven Polunsky, and Rick Russotti.
Another one: the Forest Service will cut brush / trees / grass around your house to save your house during a wildfire.