Think about it … everyone uses the word ‘disaster’ and for many reasons and circumstances.  It’s a word that has become overrun with different interpretations.

Look at the meaning: ‘a calamitous (catastrophic for those who aren’t sure) event, especially one occurring suddenly and causing great loss of life, damage, or hardship …”

Okay we all get that.

So I thought back on the times I used the word ‘disaster’.  My hair was a disaster.  The surprise party was a disaster.  That sweater with those boots she wore was a disaster. See where I’m going?  Nothing too sudden or causing great loss of life, damage, or hardship there.

My point, I think the word ‘disaster’ has become such a fixture in our lives that we don’t differentiate between Debbie’s new hair-coloring disaster and the disastrous floods in the Central Plains.  It’s become a ‘catch-all’ phrase.

Its only when a man-made or natural disaster occur that it becomes catastrophic in our eyes.  Catastrophic by the way, is the word that seems to raise an eye brow or two (that’s all we have by the way – I’d question someone raising three eye brows – just sayin).

So if the word disaster is such a vague word –how do we get anyone’s attention about disaster preparation?

Do we change it to ‘catastrophic event preparation’?   I don’t see that happening.  For one thing it’s too long.  It would soon be shortened it to ‘CEP’ and who the heck would know was that stood for? 

Maybe we could start a slogan?  “I could have saved my home CEP (‘cept) I didn’t prepare.”  Ha! … okay I’m reaching.

So, my next suggestion?  Do the synonymous thing.  See if there is a shorter more ‘user friendly’ word.

Let’s see there’s: of God, adversity, affliction, bad luck, bad news, bale, bane, blight, blow, bust, calamity, casualty, cataclysm, catastrophe, collapse, collision, crash, debacle, defeat, depression, emergency, exigency, failure, fall, fell stroke, fiasco, flood, flop, grief, hard luck, harm, hazard, holocaust, hot water, ill luck, misadventure, mischance, misfortune, mishap, reverse, rock, rough, ruin, ruination, setback, slip, stroke, the worst, tragedy, undoing, upset, washout, and woe.

Hmmmm.  Okay.  Now I’ll put anyone of those words in a News Headline. 

‘A fiasco just hit the east coast of Maine this afternoon.’  Nope I don’t see that.

How about this one?  ‘An atrocity just happened in downtown Chicago.’  I don’t think that’s gonna get people rushing to their TV sets either.

And this?  ‘Ruination just occurred on the bridge over Tampa Bay.’  Nope, still nothing.

It’s a given - we resist change even though we don’t realize it when it comes to terminology.

I guess to help us understand that a disaster is really a disaster we put tag-words on to it so we understand the seriousness of it.  You know like disaster response, disaster risk, disaster plan, disaster preparedness and disaster recovery, for instance.  These let us know we are really talking d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r here.
I guess whether we use the word disaster in other instances – a disaster is just that – all subject to

Disaster is a disaster is a disaster is a disaster.  A disaster by any other name is still … yep, a disaster.

Be disaster ready – big or small.  Just sayin.

- Survivor Jane










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