Emergency situations are bad but panic can make any situation much worse. Recall the panic responses to the COVID pandemic. The COVID virus caused a real health emergency. When it started, only limited information was available. The government recommended that people shelter-in-place in order limit exposure to the virus.

COVID was, most certainly, a medical emergency. However, the infrastructure was not damaged and utilities continued to work. Many non-COVID patients who required surgeries or treatments died due to stresses placed on health facilities. While COVID was a real crisis, much of the resulting panic was completely unnecessary.

People selfishly hoarded items including toilet paper, sugar, flour, yeast, meat, etc. Some panic buying can be justified. Sheltering-in-place requires more food and basics due to increased time at home. This would justify purchasing an extra package or two of toilet paper and some additional food items. However, hoarding supplies by the carload is not justified.

In another instance, we were warned for days of a major storm on the way. I worked at a retail store that sold outdoor supplies. I had plenty of supplies but thought that I could use a spare mini lantern. Before my shift I went to a local dollar store just to check their supplies. All of their D-cell and AA batteries were gone. In addition, most of their candles were gone. The Safeway store next door had no D-cell batteries and only a few packages of AA batteries. At my store, almost everything that generated light was gone. During my shift MANY customers were trying to buy batteries, lanterns, flashlights, etc. and almost everything was sold-out. The storm was expected to strike in a few hours and people frantically tried to prepare. The huge storm never hit.

COVID did not include an infrastructure emergency. However, certain supplies were depleted VERY quickly. It took many months for some supplies to return to store shelves. Imagine if a large earthquake destroyed roads, bridges, and structures. Stores would be emptied in hours (perhaps minutes). Avoid this mass panic by having some supplies, reserves, plans, and knowledge.