Tag Archives: preparation

  • 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

  • Mind Game: What to Do in an Emergency

    mindGameYou’ve heard us say before that proper emergency preparation can mean the difference between life and death. It turns out that that’s truer than even we knew. Obviously having food and water stored and knowing some key survival skills are crucial to provide for our needs in an emergency situation. But researchers are noting an even more fundamental advantage to preparation.

    In a recent article on BBC.com, military survival instructor John Leach explains the psychological effect of preparation in the midst of a disaster. In essence,

    “[s]urvival involves goal-directed behaviour: you feel hungry, you look for food; you feel isolated, you seek companionship. Normally, this is straightforward…But in a new, unfamiliar environment, particularly a stressful one such as a sinking ship or a burning aircraft, establishing survival goals – where the exit is and how to get to it – requires a lot more conscious effort.”

    safetyOnBoardjpg Actually listening to the flight attendant and thinking through the “what ifs” can actually save lives…maybe yours.

    Another expert points out that strong emotions tends to inhibit logical thought processes by actually limiting the number of alternatives we consider—all of which adds up to a lot of baffled people standing around in the midst of an emergency wondering what to do.

    According to Leach and others, the antidote to this all-too-common mental paralysis is (you guessed it!) preparation. If we know ahead of time the steps to take in the event of an emergency, we eliminate the need to run through all the options in our mind and decide on the best course, and can proceed straight to action. Essentially, we can win at the mind games a crisis's bring with it.

    In the short term, that may mean noting emergency exits and fire alarms, reading evacuation notices, locating life jackets, or paying attention to safety instructions. But what if you’re at home, or visiting friends, or camping, or in one of a thousand situations where there are no conveniently posted directives telling you what to do in case of a disaster?

    I’m glad you asked.

    1. Have a plan, and practice it! How does my spouse get hold of me at work? Which neighbors can my kids go to safely if I’m not here? Where do we go if we need to evacuate? All these kinds of questions can be thought through, discussed, and decided long before any need arises. And to make it easier, download our free and handy templates and checklists to get it all on paper. Make sure each family member knows the plan, and practice it until the response becomes second nature.

    kit2. Gather the right gear, and keep it handy! FEMA recommends keeping enough food, water, and supplies on hand to survive 72 hours (see their recommended supply list here). Be sure your bug-out bag is up to date and conveniently located—the very back of the basement closet may be the only available real estate in your home, but an emergency kit won’t help you much if you can’t access it in a hurry. And if you don’t have one, check out our variety of pre-packed kits, buckets, and packs.

    3. Educate yourself! Your personal repertoire of survival skills will not only provide the necessities for your family in an emergency, but it will add some much needed peace of mind in a stressful situation. Local classes are a great option; most fire departments teach regular CPR courses, and you can look online for community groups that focus on gardening, canning, foraging, or anything else. We’re also big fans of online tutorials, and don’t forget to browse our books on everything from cooking with wheat to surviving nuclear war.

    There you have it. No excuses. Increase your chances of survival in any situation by preparing your brain for action…Now!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: preparation, Emergency

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