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Chemical Explosions in China and Beyond: Could you be at risk?

By now we've all heard about the recent series of explosions caused by poorly stored chemicals in China. Is it only happening in China, though? Are you at risk where you are, and, if so, what can you do to protect yourself and your family? Pacific Prime has more here.

Posted on Sep 08, 2015 by Travis Jones

As many of us have heard, China is currently seeing a rash of disasters take place in various locations within its borders. However, these are not natural disasters, or even acts of terrorism. It seems that unsafe industrial practices, poor storage facilities and an overall lack of regulation in the country have lead to a proverbial explosion in literal explosions in some spots.

As far as the media is concerned it all started with quite a massive disaster in Tianjin, where a disaster caused by dangerous, combustible chemicals mixing with water resulted in a blast that caused destruction for kilometers around. The fallout is likely to have lasting effects, but to what degree has yet to be determined, and thanks to historical opacity in the reporting of these events in China this information may never be known, or should at least be taken with a grain of salt.

Shortly after the August 12, 2015 incident, there was another explosion in Shandong Province, on August 22, that really started to raise eyebrows regarding the state of chemical safety and regulation in China. A third explosion for the month on August 30th, once again in the Shandong Province, set off alarms that there was truly something wrong with the current methods of chemical storage.

As the industrial and commercial losses have started mounting, the media has continuously reported greater and greater monetary figures with regards to property damage. The latest estimate for the Tianjin blast alone puts the damage at over US$3.3 billion. However, the numbers that were first grabbing news headlines, and now have subsequently seen less focus from reporters, are the number of lives lost as a result of these disasters. In Tianjin, 159 deaths have been reported, as well as 797 injuries and 14 people missing. The disasters in Shandong Province were less deadly, adding up to 2 fatalities, with several hundred more injured.

While the media largely focused on the destruction of property, cost of the damage, and reporting on insurance claims related to these incidents, there has been little mention of either the immediate or long-term effects to the health of the populations affected. Could these types of explosions happen in your area?

In fact, these types of disasters are not uncommon, and they are not restricted to only developing nations: A diaper manufacturing facility in Japan in 2012; a chemical plant in Oklahoma, United States in 2013, and on and on. Don’t let the recent frequency of Chinese incidents in the media make you think that the problem is uniquely Chinese. In fact, these types of incidents are occurring throughout the world wherever manufacturing with chemicals is happening.


Take steps toward protection

So what can be done to protect you and your family from such a disaster? First off, most people are not going to be able to live near the types of industrial facilities that process dangerous chemicals such as sodium cyanide, calcium carbide, ammonium nitrate, sodium nitrate, or any other such material that lead to the giant explosion in Tianjin. This is because most territories are going to have strict regulations in place about how close residential areas can be to such facilities.

If you believe that you might live within ten kilometers or so of a location where dangerous chemicals might be stored, or even an area like a port where these materials might be transported through, take the time to try to investigate what the potential danger might be. Although you are likely to be outside of the blast zone of an explosion should one occur, there are other ways that you might be affected. For example, a cloud of toxic gas, or chemicals seeping through the ground and into your local water supply could lead to serious illness or even death.

Then, make plans for preventative measures that should be taken in the event an industrial accident involving chemicals happens in your area. For example, if one happens in an area that you might share a water table with, realize that you may not be able to drink or even bathe in your home’s water supply for sometime following an accident.

Finally, if you were affected in some way and needed medical assistance, having a plan in place is the best way to ensure that you or a family member can get quick and effective access to healthcare. If you are living abroad or travel frequently, whether for business or pleasure, you never know where you might end up and what the local standards are for chemical safety. For this reason, an international health insurance plan would be most effective if you are not at home. With this type of insurance, you can ensure access to quality medical care at any hospital of your choosing. Additionally, most international health insurance policies include or offer Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation coverage, so that if you find yourself in an area without the proper medical facilities to treat your specific ailments, arrangements will be made to get you to the nearest place that does, or even send you home for treatment.

To find out more about obtaining international health insurance coverage with the features mentioned above,contact Pacific Prime today. Our helpful agents can answer all of your questions and provide you with a free price quotation and plan comparison.

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