Kathmandu has now taken an unenviable place in modern history, a place now known for grief and sorrow. Such distinction is shared by San Francisco-USA, Messina-Italy, Port au Prince-Haiti, Kanto-Japan, Ancash Region-Peru, Haiyuan, Tangshan and Sichuan Province-China, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, the eastern Coasts of the Indian Ocean, and many other diverse places. All are modern scenes of great death and destruction brought about by earthquake. The images from all are iconic, and are continual reminders that serenity is a delicate state, that where lies peace and tranquility may become calamity and devastation in mere seconds. Nepal becomes another example what we can expect when the unexpected happens. More importantly, we are reminded of how important it is to prepare for the real and lasting effects that follow these disasters.
A few days after the devastating Nepal earthquake happened, I wrote about how the postcard-beauty of Kathmandu had become a pile of rubble surrounded by a tent city. Of all the images from this devastation, it was the vast hillsides of tarps and blankets that most poignantly struck me. From the immediate outset, emergency shelter was a major concern for those effected by the earthquake.
After the earthquake, half a million tents were needed to provide shelter for the masses left without a roof over their head. And, to make matters worse, this may only be the preface to the Nepalese crisis; monsoon season is mere weeks away. Soon may follow downpours of rain, followed by extreme heat. Definitely not a time to be left without shelter.
As happy and comfortable people, we tend to think about emergency preparedness as a short-term solution. We live and breathe our “72-hour kit plan” but don’t expect to be inconvenienced any longer than that. Don’t get me wrong, 72-hour kits and emergency kits are vital. And, for many situations, a 72-hour kit will be all you need. However, there are instances – such as the Nepal earthquakes – where a 72 hour kit will be your bread and butter for the first three days, but after that, you’re going to need something a little more…permanent.
That’s where emergency shelter comes into play.
It’s been almost three weeks since the 7.8 earthquake in Nepal struck. Since then, many countries have donated shelters to the shelterless people of Kathmandu and other regions; Britain has donated more than 65,000 shelters, with more on the way. So why is shelter so important? Let’s use Kathmandu to explain why.
- The Elements
This is probably the most obvious reason. Rain can really put a damper on things if you’re stuck out in it. With monsoon season on its way, there has already fallen quite a bit of rain on the affected areas in Nepal – and therefore the people. And then there’s the wind. Unless their tarps and blankets are anchored by rocks, the wind will make short the benefits of their makeshift shelters.
Staying warm and dry is essential to physical health and general sanity (imagine all those afternoons watching your kids on a windy, rainy soccer field…now imagine you can’t go home…sick, tired and crazy!). Then, there is the sun factor, and the burn that cannot be blocked (remember the soccer field, again). In Nepal, shelter from rain, wind, and sun are only the beginning of why shelter is essential if they are to prevent illness, sleep at night, and survive. Reason enough to have a shelter plan?
- Hot and Cold
The rain and altitude of Nepal make the night air drop to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t know about you, but sleeping out in the cold, particularly when you’re also wet, makes for a very uncomfortable, sleepless night. And then, during the days, the heat can rise close to 90 degrees. Both extremes are compounded by the humidity. Shelter will hold the heat at night, provide much-needed shade in the day, as well as temper the extreme temperatures.
No matter where we are…we will all have sanitary issues. Improper disposal of human waste can shortly lead to widespread disease. Now, shelters might not necessarily cure the spread of diseases, but they can sure help. By having some sort of privacy shelter with a portable toilet, doing your business is much easier, more localized, and can be controlled, keeping waste contained, thus keeping disease and sickness to a minimum. Privacy shelters can also help keep you healthy by keeping you out of the rain, cold, and other conditions that breed illness.
Insects, man…tell you what! Those little bugs just, well, bug me while I’m camping. Shelters, fortunately, can protect us from those nasty critters. This is especially important where there are mosquitoes. If their buzzing doesn’t drive you nuts, their bites will, not to mention the fact that they can carry all sorts of diseases. So, keeping them out of your space is another benefit of being ready with shelter in a catastrophe.
Besides all these shelter-from-the-elements reasons, the sense of home, family and belonging that a shelter provides is a benefit that cannot be overstated, particularly in a world torn apart, as in Kathmandu. So you see, there are many reasons to think beyond your 72-hour kit and consider why an emergency shelter plan is essential following a disaster.
Do you have emergency shelter for yourself and your family? Check out our range of shelters – including the heavy duty Barebones Safari and Barebones Little Bighorn tents – and get started preparing your family with shelter!
What shelter works best for you and your family? Let us know in comments!