Scottish People Alarmed by Preparedness Recommendations

If you live in an area with explosive weather and other natural disasters, you know the importance of being prepared. When I worked in crisis communication for the Indiana State Department of Health, we constantly reminded people about the importance of being prepared in the event of a public health emergency or natural disaster.

"Have enough food, water, and medicine to shelter in place for 30 days. Keep extra copies of all important documents in a safe place. Have a 'go bag' ready in case you need to evacuate for 72 hours."

While we're on the subject of health preparedness, be sure to cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Also, wash your hands for 20 seconds after you blow your nose or go to the bathroom. This is how you keep from getting other people sick.

If you're not a regular hand-washer, consider this: Not washing your hands after you use the bathroom is like shoving your food down your pants before you eat it. Ruminate on that the next time you pick up a burger.

And that person you just shook hands with before you sat down to lunch? Five minutes ago, they sneezed into their hands and had their finger up their nose.

Of course, most people don't fully prepare for disasters. I don't even do it and I spent my days telling people about it. To be fair, we usually keep two weeks' worth of supplies in the house, and my go bag is my laptop briefcase and three pairs of underwear.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't be prepared, because you absolutely should. These days, weather patterns are changing, severe weather is getting more severe, and we're seeing stronger winds, heavier rains, and flashier floods. So when you're in your region's severe weather season, you absolutely need to be ready for anything, even if you don't think you need it.

Even your Florida friends who were scoffing at Dorian on Facebook a few weeks ago had a secret stash of supplies. They may have been posting memes about hurricane tailgate parties and going all Lieutenant Dan on their porch swing, but they were fully stocked up, clocked out, and locked down.

And now they're going to barf if they eat any more tomato soup and peaches.

When it comes to preparedness, Scotland may be a little behind the rest of us. They got into a bit of a dither and snit this past week after Police Scotland urged the public to prepare a "grab-and-go bag" in case of emergencies.

As part of Preparedness Month across the UK — something the U.S. observes in September; Canada only has a week in May — they tweeted that people should pack a backpack or duffel bag with a first aid kit, radio, flashlight, cell phone battery pack, and food and water.

But Scotland is apparently not as tough as they want everyone to think, because a few people howled and hollered, accusing Police Scotland of fear-mongering.

According to a BBC News story, Police Scotland tweeted: "September is preparedness month. Emergencies can happen at any time and it's recommended to have a #GrabBag ready containing essential items including medication, copies of important documents, food/water, torch, radio, and other personal items."

But some scared Scots worried that this message would only frighten others into thinking there was a real emergency. You know, in case they missed the part that said "September is preparedness month" and "it's recommended."

And where it did not say "this is an actual emergency."

Have you never heard an actual emergency announcement, Scotland? They tell you when there's an actual emergency, they don't pepper them with friendly advice.

"September is hurricane season, which may explain why there's one bearing down on us at this very moment. In the future, we humbly recommend that you consider thinking about possibly being prepared next time or whenever, and take a little time to possibly save yourself. Maybe."

One twitterer, Bellshillbaker, tweeted, "This is crass. Scaring people with no explanations. What emergencies do you envisage? Brexit? War? Civil disturbance? Flood? Pestilence? Nuclear accident? Martial Law?"

Well, yes. All of those. Almost all of those are good reasons to have a go bag, but only those things that actually make you have to leave your house. Which means you'll stay put in the case of martial law or pestilence. Especially pestilence.

Meanwhile, Sharon Gathercole wrote, "Confusing/worrying. I'm 50 years old, lived here all my life and have never been given this kind of advice before. You need to explain."

Again, Sharon, it says right there in the first four words: "September is preparedness month."

Just because no one has ever given you advice before doesn't mean they can't start giving it now. The head of Police Scotland didn't say, "Well, we could start giving advice on being prepared, but no one has ever told Sharon Gathercole in 50 years, so why bother?"

Of course, most Scottish people have the same sense of humor as the laugh-in-Dorian's-face Floridians. They were tweeting photos of candy, snacks, and liquor in different bags, including plastic grocery bags.

Those people sound like a real blast. Why don't you guys ride out the next hurricane with us? Bring the whiskey and the deep-fried Mars bars. Just leave Bellshillbaker and Sharon at home.

The 3rd edition of Branding Yourself is now available on and in your local Barnes & Noble bookstore.