• Why You Should Be A Boy Scout (Even Now)

    Boy Scout Rubble (NBC News) NBC News

    Fred Ullrich was with his Boy Scouts when the tornado blew through their camp in June, 2008.

    Using the only shelter they had – a small cabin – Ullrich helped his boys take cover. Within minutes the tornado was at their door. Their cabin was destroyed, and many other nearby structures suffered a similar fate. 48 of the boys were injured. Four were killed.

    Once the tornado was gone, those leaders and boys that weren’t injured went straight to work. They patched up and bound wounds, and according to Popular Mechanics, even “organized an on-the-spot triage center, helping to prepare the most seriously injured for their journey to the hospital.”

    The Boy Scout’s motto is “Be Prepared.” True to those words, these Boy Scouts were as prepared as they could be.

    The night before the tornado, the Boy Scouts had gone through a first aid drill. Of course, it would take more than a few drills to really have that crucial information sink in and stay with them for such an emergency. So what made them so quick to think and act during this crisis? You may have already guessed the answer: they practiced. They must have gone over those drills numerous times, helping those skills stay at the forefront of their mind should such a scenario arise.

    And arise it did.

    During a crisis, your brain is going to revert to what it knows. That’s why it’s vitally important to practice being prepared and fill your brain with those things it needs during an emergency. These Boy Scouts are just one example –in just one area of preparedness – of how practicing survival scenarios can really impact their survival instincts for the better.

    Boy Scouts can camp out back, tooThis example of preparedness is one we should all follow. It can be more than just first aid, too. There are less life-threatening areas in which you can prepare, such as what you would do without power or water. Another way you can practice you preparedness is by taking a camping trip, even as far away as you back yard. Do you have the tools and gear necessary to make camping your go-to survival home? The backyard is the perfect place to practice, because if you realize you’re not as ready as you thought you were…you can always go in and retrieve what you need. But then remember to fix that issue as soon as you can!

    And that’s exactly what practicing is for. It’s for learning what you do have, and what you still need to work on. It’s for teaching your brain that this is normal, so that if you are forced to live out of your tent for an extended period of time, cooking on your portable stove will be second nature to you. You won’t think twice about how to take care of yourself – and your family – in the wild.

    Although it’s quite unlikely you’ll ever know the precise moment a tornado or other disaster will strike, just knowing how to react during those situations can save not just your life, but those around you as well. The Boy Scouts didn’t know a tornado was about to devastate their camp, but because they had practiced, they were prepared to take care of the wounded nonetheless.

    I challenge you to take some time this month to practice your preparedness. Go on a backyard camp, using only your emergency gear. Or, bust open a can of freeze-dried food and make sure you know how to properly prepare it. There are so many ways to practice. Find an area that you want to try out, and go for it! Don’t forget to take pictures and upload them to our Facebook page!


    Practice Your Prep

    Additional Reading:

    Why You Need to Practice Your Prep: beprepared.com/blog/18307/need-practice-preparedness/?sc=BLOG&oc=BP0617

    Go Dark For a Day: beprepared.com/blog/18288/go-dark-for-a-day/?sc=BLOG&oc=BP0617

    Your Outdoor Gear Is Your Survival Gear: beprepared.com/blog/18297/outdoor-gear-survival-gear/?sc=BLOG&oc=BP0617

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, First Aid and Sanitation, Practice Your Prep, Skills Tagged With: motto, camp, Boy Scout, practice your prep, be prepared, Tornado, disaster

  • Why You Need to Begin You Disaster Planning

    When do you start thinking about disaster planning?

    Disaster PlanningAlthough we don’t need to dwell on thoughts of disaster every moment of every day (what kind of life would that be, anyway?), we should still keep them in mind throughout the year. I know, I know, but you don’t even want to be thinking about major snowstorms in the middle of the summer, tornadoes in January, job loss working at your sweet job, or earthquakes in…wherever and whenever! And why not? Probably because it’s not snow storm season in the summer (unless you're in Canada...) and tornado season starts in the spring, not January, so you’re just not thinking about it. But here, come in a little closer to your monitor and I’ll let you in on a little secret: that’s what they want you to think. The longer you put it off, the easier it is for those disasters to come at you without warning.

    Diabolical, if you ask me.

    But, believe it or not, there is a way to counter these evil schemes. It’s called planning. It’s what you do before road trips, mapping out your college career, and yes, even before a crisis or disaster happens. There’s no sense in waiting until you see the twister on approach or you get that pink slip from your boss, because by then, it’s too late.

    Disaster planningThere are a number of different areas in which you should keep in mind for disaster planning. Food, water, and shelter have been discussed ad nauseam on this blog, however those are still some of the most crucial areas in preparation. I think we all understand the need to prepare for disasters. If an earthquake or tornado or flood comes strolling through town, it can not only ruin your home, but local grocery stores, farms, and other places that provide you with food. You might not have running water, so you’d need some sort of backup. And if your house gets washed away or crumbles to the ground (or is just far too unstable to trust during the night), you’re going to want some sort of shelter for you and your family.

    Losing a job can be just as devastating. Although your home is still intact and your faucets work, you no longer have an income and still have four mouths to feed (or five, or six…). Having an emergency food storage will not only help you financially (because investing in food is a real thing), but will help bring you at least some peace of mind knowing your family is still being fed during the interim of finding a new job.

    But of course, you know why you should plan. But now the question is what should you plan. Although each individual and family is different and has their own individual needs, there are still some basics for planning that you should keep in mind. Ready.gov has, as usual, some great ideas for how and what to plan.

    You may want to start with a family emergency communications plan. This should include things such as everyone knowing where to meet following a disaster if your home is evacuated, out-of-town emergency contacts, school and work contacts, and medical contacts. Make sure your kids have your phone numbers memorized, and remember: if it’s not an emergency, text; don’t call. Text messages may have an easier time getting through and won’t tie up phone lines that emergency workers will need.

    Use technology to help communicate with loved ones that you’re OK. The internet is the third most popular way for Americans to get their information regarding a disaster and let their friends and loved ones know they’re safe.

    Disaster planning - Safety CheckA personal example of this comes from the Nepal Earthquake. The morning it happened, I woke up with an alert on my phone that a huge quake had hit Nepal. It sounded bad, and I hoped it just sounded worse than it was. Then, I remembered one of my good friends was over in Nepal doing humanitarian work. I immediately went to Facebook to see if there was any news from him. Well, there was. Facebook was on it, and the Facebook Safety Check alert popped up on my screen right after I logged in. It said I had one friend in the affected area, and he was marked as safe. Then I found a status update of his. As it turns out, he was in the airport, just about to leave Nepal when the earthquake struck. He and his group were fine – just temporarily delayed. I learned all that from Facebook, and then I stopped worrying about him.

    So you see, Facebook can be a great way of making sure your friends and family know you’re alright. Of course, Facebook is just one way to go about it. Find a way to make the Internet work for you.

    Next on the list is knowing where your utility shut-offs are. According to ready.gov, “natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires following disasters.” Shutting off your utilities after a disaster can really save your home – and your lives. Find the shut-off valves for your natural gas, water, and electricity, so if there is a concern, you’ll know where to go.

    Disaster planning - Dolla bill (y'all)Financial preparedness is something we don’t always think about, but should still plan for. Have some extra cash stashed somewhere in your house (preferably in bills no larger than $20), because there’s always the possibility that credit and debit machines won’t work. Also plan to have adequate insurance for your home, car, and belongings. Along with this, have your important documents and records in an easily accessible location. Doing all this will help you recover faster from disaster.

    Lastly, plan ahead to be prepared with safety skills. First aid and CPR classes can provide the knowledge and skills you need to help save and protect those close to you. By receiving official certification from the American Red Cross, you’ll even be protected when you give aid to others. Without that protection (as sad as it is to say), you could face lawsuit, so make sure you plan ahead so when the time comes to help, you won’t be afraid to.

    Well, I hope this gives you a good starting place for planning ahead for disaster. Of course, there are many other areas to plan for, such as shelter, heat, and sanitation. But this should get you started. Check out our other blog posts to learn more about preparing for disasters.


    Additional Reading:

    How Good Sanitation Can Save Your Life: http://beprepared.com/blog/18189/good-sanitation-can-save-your-life/

    4 Reasons Why You Need an Emergency Shelter: http://beprepared.com/blog/18157/why-you-need-an-emergency-shelter/

    How Emergency Food Storage Can See You Through Unemployment: http://beprepared.com/blog/18089/emergency-food-storage-can-see-unemployment/

    Posted In: Planning Tagged With: disaster planning, be prepared, preparation

  • Why You Need to Practice Your Preparedness

    Practice Your Prep - RugbyDo you know why coaches make their players run drill after drill until they’re blue in the face? Contrary to popular belief, it’s NOT because of some past transgression they had forgotten about. Instead, it’s to improve them, to make them better. So that in that moment of action, when the right decision needs to be in a very crucial instant, it will be made, and there will be success. At least, that’s what my rugby coach always said. Those running, passing, and hitting drills, over and over again, were intended to ingrain behavioral lessons into our thick skulls so when we took the field, those actions would be second nature and we wouldn’t have to think – we would just act. It worked. We won nearly all our games.

    Emergency preparation is the same way. If we don’t practice our prep, how will we know if we’re ready when game day arrives? We can always think, “Well, maybe when disaster comes, it just won’t affect me.” But then again, maybe when I’m running down the field with the ball, that huge guy coming in fast toward me will miss the tackle. As many hours of running straight into people will prove, they generally do not miss their tackle.

    Disasters will affect you, somehow, some way. But it’s what we do before those disasters come that is so important. Just like I did with my rugby team, we need to practice. Simply having emergency gear is a great start, but knowing how to use it…well, that’s the other half of the battle. The crucial half. So, practice using our emergency preparedness items.

    Practicing our preparedness doesn’t have to be a dull, boring experience. The Go Game, produced by Jenny Gottstein, is a method of teaching emergency preparedness by, well, playing games. Gottstein has designed earthquake and tornado games for California, and in a Huffington Post article, they credit her in that “some of [her] games have even used a zombie apocalypse theme, where zombie actors chase people around while they learn practical skills, such as how to find emergency radio stations and evacuation routes and how to bandage a wound.”

    Did you hear that? Zombies can teach practical survival skills! As an avid reader, I can tell you that I’ve learned a lot from books. But where I learn the most is by actually doing the thing. There’s a bunch of science behind it, including neurons in the cerebellum somehow know when an action is right or wrong, and when it’s wrong, it sends “better instructions to motor neurons the next time the same action is attempted.” That’s what Christopher Bergland of Psychology Today wrote, and is essentially “why you never forget how to ride a bike.”

    Science was never my strong point, but I have learned from experience that the more I do something, the better I get and the more it sticks with me. This goes from learning to play the piano, learning a foreign language, and yes, even learning what to do during an emergency.

    Have you ever wondered why we do fire drills, earthquake drills, tornado drills, and power drills? It’s because of this principle of never forgetting how to ride a bike. The more we’re prepared – and the more we practice that preparation – the more we will remember, and the more natural it will come.

    Practice Your Prep - CPRI’ll be honest, if I (for some reason) need CPR, I’m going to want someone reviving me that’s practiced the technique more than just once at Boy Scout Camp. And if it’s me that’s doing the CPR on someone, I’m going to be glad I practiced a lot. Likewise, if I’m going to be stuck using my emergency cooking gear – without matches – I really hope I’ve practiced with it beforehand so I’ll know how to start the fire, and how to cook my freeze-dried food in it, too. It’s not too difficult, but whenever I’m doing something like that for the first time, I’m always hesitant and unsure and hope I’m doing it right.

    And that’s another thing: confidence.

    There’s just something about actually knowing what you’re doing that brings a load of confidence. And during an emergency, you’re going to want just that. People (ie. your family) will be scared, but by quickly jumping to the rescue, they can feed off your confidence and be comforted.

    Practice Your Prep - Are You Ready?I hope you take some time to consider the areas in which you can practice your preparedness and then go out and do just that. It can be fun, and will definitely be beneficial when you actually have to use those skills after a disaster. Looking back on my rugby career, I am grateful for all the time my coaches drilled those drills into my thick skull, so I could not only have great winning seasons, but actually enjoy them while they happened. I hope that I – along with all of you – can be just as prepared for disasters, so that when the moment does come, we can all be ready to tackle it head on. They say that practice makes perfect, and of all the things to get right, disaster prep is certainly up on the list.

    During this month, I’ll be posting other articles about different ways to practice your prep. And until then…


    What have you done to practice your preparedness? Let us know in comments!

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Planning, Practice Your Prep, Prep School, Skills Tagged With: practice, practice your prep, preparation

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