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As it happened

Preparedness for crises is a natural part of life in the Soomaa region

Seasonal flood in Soomaa. Photo by Marko Saarm/Scanpix.
Seasonal flood in Soomaa. Photo by Marko Saarm/Scanpix.

Those who live in the area of Soomaa National Park on the boundary of Viljandi County and Pärnu County experience what we can call crisis situations every year, during the seasonal flooding in early spring, which is sometimes moderate and sometimes beats high-water records. Throughout generations, local residents have been forced to take those floods into account and are prepared for lengthy isolation and outages of power supply and communications.

Indrek Hein, who has lived in Soomaa for 40 years, describes his daily routine as constant preparedness for the unexpected, but he does not complain because he is used to it: this is what living in harmony with nature means. He will not be easily broken by events which a city dweller would perceive as extreme crisis situations. Spending a week or two without electricity supply is not a problem for Indrek as things still get done: “Of course, power supply in the house is convenient, but when there is an outage, it’s OK, it is ordinary for this region.”

Constant preparedness means that Indrek has a supply of food for at least three weeks at home as well as a battery-powered radio, enough gasoline in his car for unexpected drives and a pretty decent stock of matches, candles and batteries. A generator is something Indrek has not bought because he got used to living without electricity. He has a simple mobile phone with a long-lasting battery, and even if it runs out, Indrek is not afraid of communication service outages.

Naturally, not everyone can and would like to follow Indrek’s example. Our expectation of daily availability of the communication infrastructure as well as relying on power transmission, natural gas supply and water supply systems are absolutely justified. But it is still worth to be prepared for crisis situations so that they don’t catch you unawares.

Coping with unexpected incidents requires only some planning and thinking beforehand. Take your time to learn which crisis situations you might possibly find yourself in and what to do if it happens. Think of how particular situations could affect you, your family and loved ones, and suggest that you establish guidelines and roles together. With your family, discuss where you can go in case of danger (neighbours, friends, relatives, country house, summer cottage). It would be useful for all the family members to know how to shut off the gas supply at home and turn off the power. Make sure that everyone in the family knows where to find the things you would need the most in a crisis, for instance, what to take with them if they are leaving home, or what you should stock up on. The best way to protect your family and yourself is to get prepared for potential crisis situations in advance because it is you who knows your family’s needs and capabilities.

What to do in a crisis

Every state does whatever it can to prevent or respond to crisis situations. Still, help will not always reach all people quickly enough because some crises can affect a large part of the population and last for days or even weeks.

Until help arrives and services are resumed, your welfare and that of your loved ones will largely depend on your own preparedness.

The web page “Kriis.ee” contains tips on how to get prepared for various types of crisis situations and what to do if there actually is one.

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