Unlike most natural disasters, no one can predict this man made disaster. A lot of people think, just because an oil spill happens far out in the ocean that it doesn’t affect much of the human race. However, that is incorrect. Granted (and unfortunately) the marine life does take the largest hit. This article will fill in the blanks, and allow you to fill any gaps in knowledge you may have on this topic.

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How Does an Event Like This Happen?

Disasters of this magnitude don’t happen very often, but when they do they can be catastrophic to the marine ecosystem, the human inhabitants, the economy and even the company that has facilitated the situation. For the most part, it is believed that most oil spills happen to be unforeseen accidents, but the occasion spill can be due to the neglect of safety regulations. Accidents that could cause the oil to be released into the water are: the ship hitting a reef or iceberg, explosion aboard the ship or an accident leading to the sinking of a tanker ship. Regardless of whatever may have facilitated the leaking of the oil, the effect it will have on the surrounding life is the most important part of this disaster.

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What are the Effects to Come?

  • Marine Life – When an animal comes into contact with oil from an oil spill it can damage there feathers, coats or skin. If this happens it can affect their ability to float/ fly and their ability to stay warm in the water. One of the saddest effects on the animals happens to the ones that aren’t even old enough to protect themselves. The strong scent of the spill makes it near impossible for a parent animal to distinguish which young is theirs, causing them to abandoning their search and leaving their babies to die.Oil is harmful to all animals, those that live underwater and those that float along the top. I’m sure most of you know about dawn soap and their continued efforts to help save animals that have come into contact with this type of horrible.
  • Human Life – Most affects to humans happens when they come into contact with the oil itself or the fumes that emit. The most common people affected long term by this disaster are the clean up crews, oil workers and  the inhabitants that live near the coast. Immediate people in harms way are the workers on the ship, the people in the water, and company that is in control of the oil. Symptoms that have been recorded consist of upper respiratory issues, blood in urine and stool, headaches and nausea, among others. Explosions, oil rigs sinking and fires caused by fumes are the leading causes of death when it comes to these horrible disasters. If an event of this magnitude occurs in your area be sure to listen to the news. They will fill you in on when its safe to go in the water again, if the drinking water has been contaminates, that the likeliness of a fire and how potent the air in the area may be.
  • The Economy – Not only does it majorly affect the company financially it also affects all of us. Coastal areas hit by this disaster end up being avoided during tourist season. No one wants to go to the beach when they hear of an oil spill in the area. This will affect the small business (such as souvenir shops) that count on the tourism. Depending on how large the spill was they may have a decline in visitors for years to come. This in effect will cause damage to the locals pockets as well. Sales and price cuts are given when the vacation season arrives due to the exponential pay growth that occurs, if out-of-staters don’t show up those cuts and sales do not occur in order to make up for the lack of profit. With the fish and other sea creatures dying and becoming ill from ingesting the oil our healthy eatable fish supply takes a large hit, affecting the charter boats and fishermen’s abilities to do their jobs and make their quota.
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How to be Prepared for an Oil Spill.

Unfortunately, since these disasters can not be predicted you have to go with a long term preparedness plan. Due to the possibility of contaminated water supplies it is recommended to keep plenty of water stocked. To keep your supply up, instead of buying in bulk, buy a few gallons here and there so you wont have to be in the middle of the mad rush to get water when the event happens. If you are one of the small business owners (whether a boat captain, souvenir captain or restaurant owner) it is recommended to have a nice little “safe” cushion of money, in the event that a tourist season is not as abundant as you would like. Keep in mind your inventory levels ( not to invest too much) and keep track of the news to know the likeliness of a how good the season may be. If you are prone to catching airborne illnesses it may be best for you to have an evacuation plan. People with sensitive immune systems and respiratory issues, should stay away from the coast in the beginning to ensure no toxic fumes are ingested. Your local authorities should be able to provide a timeline consisting of how long the vapors should be in the air and how far into land they have been detected.