On the morning of January 13, 2018, at 8:07 Honolulu time, Hawaiian residents and tourists woke up to the following alert:
BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
During the next 38 minutes, panic ensued. Some were actively seeking bomb shelters; others were frozen in a state of shock and confusion, while yet others were calling loved ones or texting their final messages realizing that an unimaginable death was imminent, perhaps seconds away.
At the end of those harrowing 38 minutes, a second message had been sent out; one describing the first message as a “false alarm.” It turns out that the first alarm was an error. Someone at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency mistakenly activated the “ballistic missile” alert during a standard shift change. Fortunately, there were no reports of physical injuries resulting from the panic. Crisis averted, we should all be thankful.
But what if the ballistic missile threat was not a false alarm?
And what if, in the case of an actual attack, the destruction sustained was not one of total obliteration, but severe infrastructural (and human) damage?
Think of most war-torn countries; or think of areas that have sustained damage from extreme natural disasters (e.g. Hurricanes Katrina and Irma)?
Preparing for a disaster entails proactivity.
I was once part of a collaborative disaster team servicing a particular building that housed a number of corporate entities.
Everything we did was based on (what we considered) our highest principle: Don’t think “what if,” think “when/then.”
In other words, to ensure disaster preparedness, don’t think in terms of “what if this or that happens”; instead, think “when a disaster strikes, what will I do then.”
It’s about being proactive. Emergency items such as water, food, batteries, and a flashlight may take only a few hours and a few dollars to gather. But when the unexpected disaster strikes, those few hours and dollars invested now yield a priceless return, as they can save lives.
What would happen if a large-scale physical and electronic infrastructure collapse were to occur during the event of war?
Imagine walking down the streets looking for basic necessities. Unless it serves everyone’s self-interest to “share” food and other resources with strangers–which is very unlikely considering high demand and extremely low supply–people might be willing to trade.
But trade with what? What if you have nothing to barter?
People might accept cash. But what if the value of cash plummets; its value questionable, or unenforceable under such extreme circumstances?
If you had a supply of goods to trade and you were presented with a gold or silver coin, would you accept it? Chances are you would.
If you presented gold or silver coins or bullion to make purchases, what kind of purchasing power do you think you would have? Certainly, far beyond those holding cash.
The probability of a major attack seems unlikely. But if you look at the history of the mightiest nations and empires, such an eventuality is almost guaranteed.
The question is not what if it happens to us, but when it happens, what will you do then ?
Whether or not such a calamity may happen in our lifetime, financial safety and preparedness requires us not to ask “what if” but to think “when/then.”
But when the time comes, the few minutes and dollars you spend will be a lifesaver–a true safe haven–which, in the larger scheme of things, is nothing short of priceless.