State of emergency – it’s a phrase that gets tossed around quite a lot, especially in the news.
It’s not just on the news that people hear these words – just about any movie that deals with disasters and national security carries this phrase, often with a sense of impending doom.
But for the rest of us, what exactly does a “state of emergency” mean?
A state of emergency happens when the government encounters a situation that it has to act on immediately. While this may look like a broad definition (something that political theorists love to discuss), it must fulfill four aspects under the Emergency Concept before it can be called as such:
Under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, the president has the power to declare national emergencies, but he must first cite the specific emergency powers he is activating under existing statutes. A mayor or governor can also declare a state of emergency, often to gain additional aid and response and prevent additional damage or loss of life. In extreme cases, the declaration of a state of emergency is accompanied by martial law.
According to the latest Congressional Research Service report, the U.S. has 31 declared national emergencies in effect. To note, former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush each have 10 national emergencies that are still ongoing. The longest national emergency in effect is from the Carter era freezing Iranian government assets within the U.S., which was done in response to the Iran hostage crisis.
In theory, a state of emergency is a power governed with laws and regulations, but it’s also a power that has a chilling effect. An area under a state of emergency will receive aid and resources faster, but this also allows the government to issue movement bans and curfews and place restrictions on the sale of commodities. It also allows the government to suspend habeas corpus, freeze assets, and confiscate properties.
That’s not to say that declaring a state of emergency is necessarily evil: Currently declared emergencies on narcotics trafficking and terrorism has allowed the government to do its job better, but it has also raised real concerns about human rights violations, both here and abroad. There are also cases like the state of emergency declared by the state of Louisiana after three of its school systems were hit by malware attacks. In a statement, Edwards said that the declaration makes state funds available to respond to cyberattacks and prevent further data loss. (Related: Here we go again: Michigan declares state of emergency after cancer-causing chemical confirmed in the public water supply.)
Preppers, of course, would benefit from understanding how the law works (a reading of the National Emergencies Act of 1976, the Insurrection Act of 1807, and the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 is in order), and how it can be abused. While a state of emergency doesn’t mean that your rights will immediately be stripped, the possibility of it happening is a good reason to be wary of this declaration.
If you ever find yourself in an area that has been placed in a state of emergency, it’s best to expect the following. (h/t SurvivalSullivan.com)
In some cases, government (state and federal) may overstep its bounds and issue decrees that might seem at odds with your current survival strategy. It’s best to consider all of your options at this point – just because “authorities” are on the scene doesn’t mean you’re exempted from being a critical thinker or coming up with a choice that will benefit you in the long run.
Fortunately, we’re still living in a reality where the “state of emergency” is a term used rationally (for the most part). It might not be an issue for now – making it the best time for preppers to think of a way to respond to it, if and when it goes haywire.