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Lockdown Extended to May 17: Prevention and Preparedness is correct Disaster Management

 

The Corona crisis is no doubt an unprecedented event in the lifetime of at least two successive generations. A global pandemic that can force the entire planet into virtual house arrest for more than two months appears to be too ridiculous a thought. But as we all know, we are seeing it, living it and lumping it.

However, as we stay locked down we have plenty of time to think and ponder on life and how we choose to live it. It is interesting to realize that we are going through this nightmare voluntarily where economy, industry and individual freedom is frozen in time as if in a childish game of ‘statue’.

Why are we doing it? What after this all ends? What will a planet reboot be like? How will you and I be affected by this in future? These are some questions which we must have asked ourselves so many times over in these months and here in India, will continue to ask ourselves till the 17th of May at least.

By now we realize that this entire gigantic exercise is ultimately about prevention. Once a person catches the bug it becomes about medicine and quarantine but for the rest it is avoidance of that situation in the first place.

Now let us cut back to a time BEFORE all this. When the world was a beehive of activity choked roads, honking traffic, big business deals, social gatherings, parties, festivals-everything. Then too there was a need to build a culture of prevention and preparedness for other life threatening dangers which we largely ignored. The threat from accidents, fires and blackouts for example.

In the noise of civilization we failed to note that lots of lives have been needlessly lost because those concerned did not have proper exigency, fire safety and related protocols in place as they should have. They did not realize that any enclosed place can be as deadly a life threat as Corona if left unprotected from possible and probable tragic contingencies that can strike without any warning. At least Corona allows some breathing time between discovery and ultimate death.  But if one is trapped in an office, a hotel or a building in a fire accident for example, one’s life expectancy may hardly extend beyond as little as 60 seconds.

The irony is that there are existing laws and rules that make it necessary to obtain fire safety licenses for all constructions and yet people choose to bypass them and build death traps for people to save a few bucks or just out of laziness and ignorance.

Emergency lights that turn on when power fails, glowing signs that show safe passageways to people caught inside in such a situation, fire extinguishers, alarms etc. are all necessities and not luxuries. Yet most people fail to comply.

 So after this Corona lockdown blows and we come out into the open in a new world, we will hopefully have learnt an important lesson. We would be well advised to relook at our premises, our offices, godowns, malls, multiplexes, highrises, colonies and the rest and secure them the right way this time. We will need to find out and seek expert advice on safety and security protocols, revisit the National Building Code, and be prepared and ready if ever, God forbid, we face such a situation.

Corona has taught us how much pain it takes just to stay alive when disaster strikes. Compared to that, this could hardly be any real trouble at all.