Emergency 'grab bag' campaign accused of scaremongering

Grab bag diagram Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Police Scotland issued a diagram of a recommended "grab-and-go" bag via Twitter

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

A Police Scotland tweet urged people to pack essentials such as a first aid kit, radio, torch, and food and water.

Its recommendations were part of an annual Preparedness Month, which is being promoted by local authorities and emergency services across the UK.

However, the police force has been accused of scaremongering.

The tweet read: "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."

An accompanying diagram showing a cross-section of a rucksack also included medication, phone charger and battery bank, whistle, pen and paper, and seasonal clothing.

Some users were concerned that the the tweet would scare people into thinking there was a reason for the sudden advice.

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."

But social media quickly responded with humour as the tweet went viral. Robby McBobby asked: "Some advice please on #grabbag re "seasonal clothing". I have packed some fancy dress for Hallowe'en and then a Santa suit for Christmas. Will that be enough do you think?"

Others offered alternative suggestions for their grab bags, many featuring Scottish snacks or alcohol.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "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."

National Preparedness Month was originally a US campaign run by the 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 services over the past five years under the banner 30Days30WaysUK.

The organisation co-ordinating the UK 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.

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