Plagues, nuclear threats, an electromagnetic pulse attack. Each could knock the United States off the power grid. These potential disaster strikes can seem daunting.
“The odds of you being in a terrorist attack are about 1 in 22 billion, or being in any kind of significant disaster,” terrorism expert James Carafano tells The Daily Signal. “But the fact is, that stuff does happen. It happens all the time. And when it happens, it happens to everyday people like you.”
Carafano, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at The Heritage Foundation and the E.W. Richardson fellow, explains actions to take for disaster preparation in his new book, “Surviving the End: A Practical Guide for Everyday Americans in the Age of Terror.”
According to Carafano’s research, faith, family, education, and health are attributes needed to best survive a disaster.
“The person that’s most likely to survive a disaster is a married, high school-educated, church-going, gun-toting yoga instructor,” Carafano said.
He has proposed a panel on this topic for the 2016 South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, called “Survive the End.”
“If you really want to know what families and every American should do, don’t go to a survivalist website,” Carafano says.
He says survival skills, like how to start a campfire, are not as important as the confidence and resilience that come with faith, responsibility that comes from having a family, and a solid high school education. “Not surprisingly,” healthy people also deal much better with disasters.
“I came at this from a science-driven perspective,” Carafano says. “The data on this, and the research behind this, is absolutely rock-solid. It’s not about how much food you have stockpiled in your basement. It’s about what kind of person you are.”
As the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina looms, Carafano points to surveys of who delivered the best care during the aftermath of the storm.
“It was the local churches and organizations that got together to help people in the communities that were rated as the most responsive and the most effective,” he said of Louisiana.
He stated that certain communities got through Hurricane Katrina very well, noting that the Vietnamese community was a “prime example.” During this time, the Vietnamese grouped together to support and take care of one another.
“Even within that kind of chaos and mess, you had these elements of faith, family, education, and health.”
Joining Carafano on his proposed SXSW panel are Ericka Andersen Sylvester, digital director at National Review and healthy lifestyle blogger; conservative commentator Stacy Washington; and Lindsey Burke, an education expert and Will Skillman fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
The panelists will not discuss how to build barricades and bomb shelters, but rather engage in conversation about having a healthy family, maintaining personal health, how to best educate children, and the role faith plays in society.
“I’m an American mom,” proposed panelist Washington tells The Daily Signal. “I really want to be confident that I’m doing all the things that I’m supposed to do to support my family and to protect them. And being prepared is one of those things.”
“Being prepared is simple to do, and it doesn’t take a ton of your time.”
Having spoken at SXSW two years ago, Carafano would like to take a conversation back to the conference that gives practical advice anyone can implement.
“[The potential SXSW conference attendees] are going to hear things that are going to make them better people,” he stated. “Even if they’re never in a terrorist attack or never in a disaster, [the things presented] are going to make them happier, better, and more productive citizens. I think it’s a message that really transcends everything.”
In order for Carafano’s panel to make the cut, he’ll need supporters to vote for it on SXSW’s Panel Picker.
“This is fundamental lifestyle 101 that I think is important for a generation to really embrace,” said Carafano.