Emergency Preparedness: 8 Sort of In-Your-Face Considerations (A Prepper Checklist)
This article discusses eight necessary factors you need to consider in your preparedness efforts. What are the most important items to have ready in an emergency? What if it's a long-term emergency? Start being prepared now!
Imagine this: An EMP strikes (either from a solar flare or from an enemy), and immediately all electronic devices are inoperable. That includes your car. Your phone. All electricity coming from the "grid." Wherever you are---you are stuck. Right where you are.
There is no more ground or air transportation. Stores will no longer have merchandise after only a couple days--maybe three at the most.
Can you imagine having no running water for days...maybe weeks? Or medicines? Or food? No way to leave and get to someplace safe?
If you live in a highly populated urban area, you will be at the mercy of those more powerful than you. Hopefully, you have supplies for several months---but those could potentially be taken from you by others trying to survive.
The book, One Second After by William Fortschen, was our first experience with the survival/preparedness genre a few years ago, and it really gave us pause to consider whether or not we could survive in this type of long-term disaster. At that time, we definitely could not.
William Fortschen, the author of One Second After, has worked in government circles related to technology for years. The introduction is written by Newt Gingrich, who states facts about our country's systems that are both frightening and factually accurate.
One Second After is a realistic-fictional account of what might happen in the event of an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) based on his years of experience in the field as well as the current state of our government. Not only is the story based on facts and data, but it is highly engaging with well-developed characters--it's a great story!
The bottom line is the great majority of our populace, not to mention our government, is not prepared for major disasters. Our electrical grid has not been "hardened off" or prepared for any kind of grid shut down on a large scale since...get this: the years of Ronald Reagan in the early 1980's.
Scared yet? It makes me a little nervous!
Another significant resource that started us off was Mark Goodwin and and David Kobler's, The Seven Step Survival Plan, and much of how Mr. V. and I now think was inspired by reading that plan. Many other books have given us ideas and helped get us started prepping, too, and I'll share them in links throughout this article.
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article, mostly to Amazon. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Most People Are Not Prepared for an Emergency Situation: Are You?
According to an article in Govtech.com, an emergency management website, very few people are prepared for an emergency with food, water--the basics. Even city or emergency managers---the people who are supposed to help the citizens in their areas be minimally ready, are not ready themselves!
The author of this article estimates that less than 10% of people who work in the emergency field has any kind of emergency stockpile. I wonder what that means for the rest of us?
According to another article in Fema.gov, "A recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) survey found that nearly 60 percent of American adults have not practiced what to do in a disaster by participating in a disaster drill or preparedness exercise at work, school, or home in the past year. Further, only 39 percent of respondents have developed an emergency plan and discussed it with their household."
What's crazy about the above quote is that it is estimated that over 80% of the citizens of our country live in an area that has experienced some type of disaster in the past ten years or so!
Why are people so unprepared for emergencies?
Here are some reasons given in a roundtable of officials in 2012 about why people are so "indifferent" to needing to have at least 72 hours of food and water on hand (some reasons are my own):
Nobody wants to think about a disaster until it's ready to strike
Apathy: Some feel it's just not their job--that the government and community should take care of them
Simply being unaware of the need to be prepared
Finances--Some folks are just trying to put food on the table and have no extra resources to put aside food and water, let alone anything else
Disbelief: "It will never happen to me" Syndrome
Knowing it's important, but procrastinating
Laziness--being more interested in video games and the Kardashians
I would think that with everything that is happening in the world right now, if a person is even reasonably informed, they would be motivated to be at least somewhat ready! So, on to some basic considerations.
Considerations to Take Into Account When Preparing for an Emergency
There are considerations to take into account when starting your own preparedness journey. It's tempting to just target one of the following (like some people focus solely on weapons--my step-son is one of these folks--love him dearly, but he's a bit gun-obsessed), because some of these are more enjoyable than others and even turn into hobbies.
However, you really should be thinking and planning for all the following categories.
This list is in no order, by the way, so please don't think I consider the first thing the most important. Number three is actually my personal first in order of importance, but they all need to be considered.
There are so many preppers who want to focus on guns. Or food. Or your BOB (Bug Out Bag). Because that's the "fun" stuff. But seriously, if you are not fit, you will not survive. End of story.
If you are interested in being prepared to survive an assault on your property, your person, or your family, you must be physically fit. What if you have to haul water? What if you have to fight off an attacker? Can you run if you need to?
Get yourself in shape, if you can. And unless you are seriously ill, there is no excuse not to work on your personal fitness.
Guess what: Working on your health & fitness doesn't even require money! Go for walks. Lift weights. Do bodyweight exercises that require no equipment. Heck, even doing some yoga helps.
Get your cardiovascular system squared away. Work out those muscles so you can carry heavy loads if need be. Fitness matters!
Your mind is important because it has everything to do with the psychology of being prepared--ready and able to handle an emergency without falling apart.
You can be ready with food storage, weapons, and everything else, but if your head is not prepared, nothing else matters.
Are you ready to fight if you need to? Are you ready to defend your family? Could you pull the trigger if you HAD to, in order to protect your children/property/animals etc.? Or would you just stand there and cry?
Seriously. There are many who call people like me "kooks" because we think this way. In my view, it's just being intelligent and acknowledging that nobody knows what the future holds.
Would you know what to do with your family in case of a home invasion? Or a fire? Or any other big problem? Would your family know what to do?
Every single day on the news we hear about tragedies like this that happen all over the country and world. How many of these could have been prevented with some forethought and mental discipline? How many people could have survived?
I acknowledge these are not "fun" thoughts at all. In fact, for me, they are downright painful. I like to go target shooting, but I don't know if I could actually even point a weapon at someone. I'm still deeply working on the "mind" part of being prepared.
My husband, not so much--he is mentally ready. I think it goes right down to the basic emotional differences between men and women. However, if you are going to be a truly prepared person, you need to take care of the mind so you are mentally with it.
Tips for Getting Your Mind Prepared:
Inform yourself. So many people bumble through life paying more attention to silly things (video games and the Kardashians, people?) SERIOUSLY: Take some time to read (or listen on Audible) to books in the survival or preparedness genre. Chances are, you may really enjoy them. There are also lots of websites you can find information on what you need to know. But here's the thing: You need to be aware that much of this information has an emphasis on building fear. Learn to discern between fear-mongering and what you should truly be considering.
Plan Safety Drills For and With Your Family. Just the action of thinking through what you and your family would do in various emergency events will help you think through what you need to do to have a prepared mind.
DO the Drills--Practice! Practice makes perfect. When you practice, you'll run across glitches you didn't think about and can then fix them. Your kids will know what's expected. And the more you practice, the more automatic they will become.
You know what's great about having kids do these things with you? They'll LOVE it! Plus, you can all figure things out together! How empowering for them! Besides that, you'll be spending some great family time together.
Some of you might be offended by what I'm going to say next, but I really don't care. It's me being real, and it's what I'm about.
Are you o.k. with death? It's going to happen to all of us. You need to get to a place of peace, here. If you have God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit with you, and you know this, and rest in this comfort daily, then doing all the things you need to do to be prepared and to potentially have to follow through if you need to is so much easier. And....less anxiety-provoking.
Having a personal one-to-one relationship with Jesus/Our Father is everything. If you have this, you are light years ahead of others who don't. I'm not going to go into a litany of all the things you can do to develop your spirituality (you've heard them before, I'm sure), but just trust me on this one.
Also, I know we all believe different things. I think as long as you have a sense of peace, and you are grounded in whatever belief system you operate from, you'll be better off in the preparedness department.
4) Food & Water
Fema recommends every family have enough food and water stored away for at least 72 hours if not more. Do you have food and water emergency supplies? Have you even thought about how much you would need for your family to stay healthy for at least several days, let alone weeks or months?
After reading One Second After, my husband and I really started considering our food storage. We've been pretty creative, too.
I wrote an article not too long ago about the basics you should have on hand for well-stocked food storage in case of disaster or emergency. You can read lots of details to consider for your own food and water storage in the article, Food Storage Basics.
Yes, this is the gun talk. Yes, I am a gun rights person. Without getting all political here, I am a strong advocate of the 2nd Amendment, and I'm a proud member of the NRA. I think folks who have a very good understanding of our country's history and why the 2nd Amendment was put in place originally agree with me.
It behooves people who are truly wanting to be ready and prepared to have some basic knowledge of gun-handling and defense. And that's just the safe and responsible thing to do, in my little opinion.
And...you might want to consider having a few weapons on hand. With extra ammo.
I love the idea of bartering for things. Don't you? It's how people used to survive before these huge economies based on worthless paper emerged. And I think bartering is very cool. There are two things to consider when preparing your family for barter/exchange:
When you are thinking about bartering, start with your skill-sets. Can you garden? Do you know about black-smithing? Are you into building? Do you know ham radio? Can you bake? Are you capable of using herbs to heal? What are the skills you have? How can you contribute?
These skills and many more are things people can trade for items they need.
Luxury items will be a big deal in any case of extended emergency. Things like female hygiene items, diapers, alcohol, cigarettes, baby formula, and more will become things people will trade for. You might want to add some of these to your preparedness list, if you can.
I actually stock a lot of vodka because I use it to make herbal medicine--but if I had to, I could use it for barter!
This one is just basic economics at a fairly primitive level.
I've heard it said that all a person really needs is food, water, and shelter in order to survive (from a FEMA article). Now, that's debatable, but you absolutely do want to consider shelter for yourself.
The great majority of us consider our homes our shelter. And this is true.
What if you are away from home? Do you have a plan for providing some type of shelter or cover for yourself and/or kids?
In the case of providing supplies for warmth or coverage in case you need to hoof it, you need to consider carrying a Get Home Bag in your vehicle at all times. Especially if you are traveling with children.
Can you imagine how heartbroken you would feel as a parent (or in my case, grand-parent) if you had to watch your children be cold, hungry, or thirsty for an extended period because you didn't take the time to carry some basic items in your vehicle?
Here's an article about what you should carry in your Get Home Bag, and in your vehicle.
7) Medical Supplies & Skills
I'll be honest, and you may find me strange, and I don't really care. I dislike going to the doctor's office. I mean: I won't go. I would have to be seriously injured or dying to go there. I can't stand taking lab-derived chemical concoctions, either OTC or Rx. I've had some pretty awful experiences with side effects.
My personal solution for my family?
I make our own basic medicines using plants. But even if you're not into the whole herbal thing, that's ok! It's still a good idea to do at least two things:
If you are on medications that you must take, you should consider stockpiling these. I have a great friend who must take medications, and she has managed to reduce her dosages in half over a period of years, which has done two things for her: 1) She's reduced her dependence on the meds, and 2) she now has a nice, longish-term stockpile of them in case something happens in the world. WIN!
You can also stockpile OTC (over the counter) meds. Most parents try to keep things on hand in case their kids get sick, anyway, but having a thoughtful plan for potential illness is a good idea.
Finally, keep a good first aid kit on hand, at the very minimum. You can buy some great supplies at Amazon or Costco for not much money, too.
You don't have to be a hardcore herbalist to be able to turn to items you probably already have in your kitchen. Honey, garlic, onion, vinegars, and spices (and more) can all be used in various ways to heal.
Here are some articles to help you get started:
And I've written quite a few articles on how to use essential oils effectively:
Plus there's LOTS more on the website.
And I'll continue to write more of these types of articles as time goes on! Stay tuned!
Also, if you are interested in learning more about herbalism and plant medicine, The New England Academy of Herbal Medicine is a great place to start! So is Rosemary Gladstar's book, Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide.
This may be one of the more difficult things to prepare for. Developing community kind of depends on the mindset of the people you hang out with and live near.
When we lived in the Las Vegas suburbs, it was rare that people actually knew their neighbors. I had neighbors I never even saw! Like ever! People drive into their garages, shut the door, and you never see them, let alone talk with them. Gosh, these days, you rarely even see kids out playing in the streets like you used to.
Even so, if you are even toying with the idea of being prepared for any kind of emergency, you might want to give some thought to getting to know your neighbors for two reasons: 1) You can work together on a potential plan if they are like-minded, and 2) if they aren't like-minded, you'll know it.
Once a disaster strikes, it might be too late to run around and get a community plan together.
We know our neighbors up here on the mountain. We live in a tiny village--it's hard not to know something about almost everyone up here. That means that we pretty much know who thinks like us. We know who doesn't. And we kind of have an idea of who might be harmful, and who might be helpful.
A small group of us even met one time to discuss the defense of our little village in the event of SHTF. I was a little apprehensive about talking about this with folks on the one hand, but on the other hand, we realized there are people up here who are thinking the same way, and it could be possible to help take care of each other. That was comforting.
I'll just say this: Even if a disaster never happens---you really should try to reach out to your neighbors and have some kind of support system. Or at least friends and family who live nearby. It's really hard to be alone in any kind of emergency.
With that said, I think it's a responsibility we all have to help each other out as much as we can.
Final Thoughts on Being Prepared
I'm just going to wrap this up by saying: If you read this far, do you think you have a responsibility to start your own preparedness journey if you haven't done so yet?
You can start now by educating yourself; getting your spirit/mind/body fit; start your food & water storage; consider defense; build community; have your medical issues covered and a first aid plan ready; get ready to possibly barter goods & services---
I know this sounds like a lot. And it is. However, Mr. V. and I were nowhere in our preparedness thinking just five years ago! It took us reading a realistic, information and fact-based fiction book to kick start our journey.
Mr. V. and I still aren't there yet, and I don't think anyone is ever 100% ready. But being part way there is better than being no way there, don't you think?
I hope you'll tell me what you think! Leave me a comment in the comments section below!
Hugs & Self-Reliance,
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I am not a medical doctor, and in no manner, stated or implied, is any statement made in this article, elsewhere on my website, or in any of my publications meant to cure, treat, diagnose, or prevent any health issue or disease. Please seek advice from a medical doctor if you have concerns. My statements are simply personal opinion, for informational use only, based on my own study and experiences.