It seems that preparedness has gone from something only crazy guys in the woods do to something that is discussed much more in the mainstream news.
I think it is such a wonderful thing that more awareness is being brought to the subject. I hope that it means that more and more people will be prepared to go without electricity, readily available water, conventional heating and easily purchased food. Not because any of those things are bad, but because the systems that deliver them are surprisingly fragile and can break easily when things do not go as planned.
Superstorm Sandy was just one more recent extreme weather event that highlights what can happen when people do not have a basic supply of clean water, alternate heating/electricity plans and food storage on hand. Now, if your house is one that was destroyed by the storm, those things do not do any good. However, you can have bags prepared to go (commonly called a Bug Out Bag) in an emergency that will make being displaced about 1,000 times more bearable. And typically, there are a lot more people left without power (and gasoline and heat) than those who are displaced.
Here are the top 4 reasons I believe that every able person is responsible for being prepared to withstand an emergency.
1. You alone are responsible for you.
While it is ideal to live in a society that cares for all of its citizens equally, the simple fact is that cannot always happen. You cannot depend on the government or relief agencies to take as good care of yourself and your family as you can by taking some simple precautions. People were without homes for years after Katrina. There are still people in the Northeast who do not have adequate permanent shelter and heat, even several weeks after Sandy. That is reality.
2. You can avoid tying up resources.
Some people simply cannot prepare – those who are hospitalized, in nursing homes, in group homes, the poor, the homeless, etc. Those people are in the most dire need of first responders and aide when a crisis happens. If you make sure that you are prepared, then you can avoid draining resources that are truly the difference between life and death for those who cannot prepare like you can.
3. You can help others.
Unless you have your basic needs covered (water, food, shelter and security), you will not be of any use to anyone else. If you have children or other dependents, then those people rely on you to care for them and protect them. If you are stable, you can feed or shelter neighbors or relatives. My husband is a volunteer fire fighter/first responder. If we were unprepared for a crisis, then he could not go out and help those who need it most. Knowing his family has the basic needs met, means he can go out and care for others.
4. You have peace of mind.
I have no idea if there will be a super volcano or a meteor that will hit Earth anytime soon, and truthfully, I am not trying to be prepared for such an event. It is not my desire to be the last survivor on Earth. It is my desire not to die or suffer unnecessarily – or worse, have that happen to my kids. If the power goes out (for whatever reason – ice storm, tornado, power grid failure, terrorist attack – whatever) I don’t have to panic. I don’t have to run to the stores and fight over the last package of Kleenex or gallon of milk. I can just get home and hunker down with my family. I can hold my kids and truly tell them that we did everything we could to be prepared and we will make it through.
What should you do to prepare?
First, don’t feel guilty that you did not start already. I am not implying that people who are unprepared are lazy or unintelligent. I am only urging you to consider why you should be prepared and encouraging you to do something about it now.
Unfortunately, the entire subject of preparedness can be a bit overwhelming. I suggest that you start small. Have an emergency car kit. Consider 72 hour/bug out bags if where you live poses a high likelihood of evacuation (hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, wild fires). Plan to survive a few days at home. Then move up to the bigger stuff as you see a need, feel you have the resources (or are willing to sacrifice elsewhere) or find you will have more peace of mind.
Please don’t get turned off by discussions of scenarios that you do not think are likely. Preparedness covers a huge range of possibilities (run of the mill power outage to the end of the world as we know it), but I find that if I just focus on our basic needs, then I can feel confident that I am reasonably prepared for most emergencies. You have to decide which scenarios are most likely for your area and what you want to be prepared to survive. A good place to start is with a basic two week supply of food, water, heat and electricity alternatives (like blankets, thermal clothes, candles, solar chargers, etc.).
Resources to help you be prepared
- Emergency Supplies: Natural Disaster and Roadside [Censational Girl]
- DIY Car Kit [i HeartOrganizing]
- Essential Items for Your Car Emergency Kit – Video [The Survival Mom]
- Creating Emergency Bags for Your Children [Life as Mom]
- The Survival Mom (The entire blog is huge resource on all survival topics)
- Ready.gov – (See? Even the government wants you prepared – look for links to make a plan, build a kit, be prepared)
- 72hours.org (Baby steps you can do one at a time)
- Food Storage Made Easy (step by step plans to store food, and use/rotate it so you don’t waste it)
- Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient when the Unexpected Happens by Kathy Harrison
- Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios by Lisa Bedford
- Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe in a Crisis by Peggy Layton
- Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family, 3rd Edition by Dr. Arthur. T. Bradley
If you have any recommendations, I would love to hear what you have found helpful!
May you know the safety and security that comes with being prepared.
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