Emergency #GrabBag campaign mocked and criticised for scaremongering

Criticised: Scottish police urged people to keep a rucksack that includes medication, phone charger, battery bank, whistle and seasonal clothing. (Police Scotland)

A campaign urging the public to prepare a "grab-and-go" bag in case of emergencies has been mocked and criticised by social media users.

Police Scotland tweeted a diagram of a rucksack that includes medication, a phone charger and battery bank, a radio, torch, and food and water.

The recommendations were part of an annual “preparedness month” that is being promoted by local authorities and emergency services across the UK.

The tweet said: "September is preparedness month. Emergencies can happen at any time and it's recommended to have a #GrabBag ready containing essential items including medication, copies of important documents, food/water, torch, radio and other personal items."

However, the campaign has been accused of scaremongering to a tense public, with some commentators mocking the campaign.

WHY DID POLICE SCOTLAND ADVISE PEOPLE TO KEEP A GRAB-AND-GO BAG?

National Preparedness Month was originally a campaign run by the US Department of Homeland Security. The department's theme for 2019 is "Prepared, Not Scared".

It has been adopted by a number of UK councils, police forces and fire departments over the past five years under the name 30Days30WaysUK.

A Police Scotland spokesperson told Yahoo News: "The messaging is part of a general resilience awareness campaign that runs each year during September which emergency services and partners across Britain are taking part in."

The campaign describes emergencies as power cuts, water main bursts, gas leaks, fires, transport strikes and road closures, as well as major disasters.

"Taking proactive steps to be better prepared will help you not only with everyday emergencies but also with far less likely incidents," it advises on its website.

HOW HAVE THE PUBLIC REACTED?

Ma Simpsons wrote on Twitter: “And why would you be suggesting this? What massive emergency are you envisaging?”

Lucy Ayrton wrote: “This campaign seems misguided and irresponsible at best, fear mongering at worst. What emergencies, exactly?? What were the conversations had about public response to this?”

One user, bellshillbaker, wrote: "This is crass. Scaring people with no explanations. What emergencies do you envisage? Brexit? War? Civil disturbance? Flood? Pestilence? Nuclear accident? Martial Law?"

Sharon Gathercole, replied to Police Scotland: "Confusing/worrying. I'm 50 years old, lived here all my life and have never been given this kind of advice before. You need to explain."

WHAT HAS THIS GOT TO DO WITH BREXIT?

Some felt that the post was particularly worrying given the current circumstances and fear surrounding a no-deal Brexit.

Helen MacMillan wrote: “I would seriously suggest this is not a good time to be issuing this, especially in the current climate? We have been told the UK government is talking about bringing in the military in the event of a No Deal Brexit, now this??”

Other users felt that the recommendations were akin to the American “prepper” movement.

Also known as survivalists, preppers are people who actively prepare for emergencies, including possible disruptions in social or political order.

The movement was spawned during the Cold War, when the threat of nuclear annihilation threatened the world.

HOW HAS THE CAMPAIGN BEEN MOCKED ONLINE?

Social media was also very quick to mock the grab bag.

Scottish Twitter users posted images of their versions of “grab bags” that included Scottish sweets, snacks and alcohol.

HOW HAVE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS RESPONDED?

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr called the advice “ill-timed”, given the “current atmosphere” in the UK.

Mr Kerr told the Scottish Courier: “While I have no doubt this tweet was well-intentioned, its timing seems extremely ill-advised.

“It’s difficult to understand why September requires people to prepare an emergency grab bag.”

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