After catching a clip of an interview with Amanda Ripley on Oregon Public Broadcasting one night , I became interested in reading her book The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why. It sat on my shelf for weeks because I just wasn’t sure I wanted to read about disasters. I’m glad I finally read it, though. The book gives a comprehensive look at some of our worst tragedies that examines how we think people act vs. how they actually respond. Not too surprisingly, Hollywood movies get it wrong. The author covers types of individual responses – the typical flight, freeze or hero – with a new outlook using real world scenarios and scientific studies to support her chapters. Reading the book, it becomes easy to forget that these are real life situations, as the author breaks them down in order to scrutinize, in little sections, how each disaster came together. It is those moments of imagining you’re in the disaster, however, that help the mind to formulate a plan if you ever find yourself in one of these awful circumstances.
After reading this book, it is natural to want to know about more about how to protect yourself and your family in the event of a disaster. The library has several choices, but Extreme Weather: a guide to surviving flash floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, heat waves, snowstorms, tsunamis and other natural disasters, written by meteorologist Bonnie Schneider, includes information about emergency plans for pets and what to have in an emergency safety kit. These books are for anyone interested in human behavior, those interested in the psychology of natural disasters, and those concerned about the big earthquake predicted for the Pacific Northwest.