Protect Your Future
There are many popular expressions encouraging us to prepare for emergency situations to reduce their impact. As Malcolm Sparrow has well explained in his book The Character of Harms, a major challenge in loss prevention fields of any sort is ensuring continued support for investments that lower risks. The continuing outlay of resources that ensure (bad) things don’t happen seems less attractive than investing in some new initiative promising to deliver a new product or service.
When we encounter a clear example of great harm having been prevented by continued investment in emergency preparedness, we must draw attention to it. For that reason the authors Luis Andres Henao and Eva Vergara are to be congratulated for their Associate Press article Chile confronts major quake with fortified buildings, alerts. They report seismologists’ appreciation that:
“Chile’s heavy investment in structural reinforcement of buildings and constant refinement of its tsunami alert system helped prevent what would have been a catastrophe in less prepared nations.”
“Most buildings in urban areas of Chile are designed to withstand both the vertical forces of gravity and the horizontal jolts that an earthquake inflicts. Building methods in many other developing countries can withstand gravity and wind but have limited resistance against very strong earthquakes.”
In addition to investments in more fortified, resilient buildings, public awareness and preparedness is high:
“People were also more prepared. Schools increasingly have earthquake drills and society is filled with creative solutions to quakes, such as restaurant owners who nail wood railings to shelves to keep glasses and liquor from crashing down.”
We offer condolences to Chile on lives lost in the event, but congratulate Chile on their preparedness, which certainly saved many lives and much property.