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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Preparing to prepare...

There is no need for the novice prepper or "prepper family" to create the equivalent of a corporate disaster response plan; there will be time for that later on. While it is important for you to know the types of disasters that are most likely to affect you based on where and how you choose to live your daily life, prepping can quickly become a daunting task if you focus too much on the minute details rather than the totality of staving of adversity as you begin to prepare yourself and your family. Once the basics are covered, it is then expected that you will round out and expand on your basic preparedness to address the more advanced and in some cases long term needs that you will have to overcome.

Let's start with the obvious - In some scenarios, your survival of the initial disaster is not assured. Earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, tsunamis and asteroid impacts to name but a few, will kill lots of people outright. There is no amount of preparation that will save you from the effects of a nuclear blast or a terrorist bomb that detonates next to your desk at work.

Preparing is what you do to mitigate the after effects of a disaster so that you can maintain your health and well being until you can recover and move beyond the adversity and disruption to your daily life.

To accomplish this goal in a relatively straight forward manner, it is important that the bulk of your advance preparations focus on the generalities of survival, regardless of the circumstances that brought about the need to survive. You would come to realize over time that many of the supplies and actions you need to keep going in the face of disaster are the same regardless of actual situation you encounter. To save you the time of coming to this conclusion on your own, below I list the aspects of survival that should be your predominate focus. If you take care of these, you will be in great shape to carry on when the world around you has fallen apart.

Disclaimer: There are always exceptions and additions to any list. Your personal situation, state of health and personal needs will dictate exactly what equipment, supplies and knowledge you will need. The list below is meant to be a general list of areas to focus on and is not to be considered all inclusive or mutually exclusive.

First Aid - After any disaster or accident, the first thing you need to be able to do is treat any injuries suffered by yourself or others around you. You need ample first aid supplies at home, in the car and at work.

Shelter - aka on going personal protection from the weather, sun, insects, dust, wind etc. You need to be able to stay warm and dry if you plan on surviving. Remember to take into account, the climate in your area. Shelter means different things in July and January for many people.

No Water - You need to consume at least 2.5 liters (minimum) everyday just for your body to be able to function. You need more to keep yourself clean and to cook. Having no safe water on hand to drink will limit your survival chances and affect your ability to help yourself. Store lots of drinkable water!

No Food - Everything you do after a disaster will be more difficult and take longer than it normally would. You will be burning more calories than you would sitting on the couch watching CNN. To preserve your ability to do work and stay healthy, you need to be able to eat. This is why you need to store food.

Money - We live in a consumer society. We are used to buying what we need to live. There is no reason to expect that everything you will need to procure after a disaster will be available to you for free. The bank wont be open so you will need to have some money available to purchase "things" from others.

Safety and Security - For every 50 people you put together in a group, there will be a few who have no compunction against doing you harm or taking what you have for themselves if given the opportunity. It is not unreasonable to assume that some stressed out desperate people will behave badly. You need to ensure that you have considered how you can protect your person, shelter, water and food from this often over looked threat.

Energy Sources/Utilities - It is safe to assume that in any disaster some or all of the public utilities you depend on to power your stove, furnace and lights may not be available for quite a while. You need a means of seeing in dark, cooking your food, safely disposing of human and food wastes.

Communication - You need a means of learning what is going on and gathering information on threats that exist that you may not be able to see. You need to know where to go and what to do. You need a radio to listen to messages from authorities. Because you are prepared, you may not need many or any relief supplies, but you need to know where these are being distributed if for no other reason than to avoid the throngs of unruly people who will congregate at these locations.

Restricted Travel - It may not be possible for you to travel within your town or between towns depending on the nature of the disaster or restrictions on movement imposed by the authorities. You need options that enable you to stay put under less than optional conditions. You should also consider providing yourself the option of leaving an area of perceived adversity if you have some advanced warning of events to come.

Advanced medicine or life support - Hospitals, medical clinics and doctors/nurses in general may well be overwhelmed by the needs of the many in the aftermath of a disaster. While no one can be expected to perform surgery on their loved ones, having the skills and supplies to suture open wounds, antibiotics for infections and rudimentary dental work is a great advantage. The next time you get your teeth cleaned, ask your dentist for the tools and compounds to apply temporary fillings and to treat cuts in the mouth and tongue.

Lost Records - You may need to prove who you are, that you own the land you are living on, that you have insurance in one form or other, that you are licensed to possess that rifle etc. You need to have copies of important paperwork in the event that the originals are no longer available.

Mental Health & Spirituality - Time will pass slowly without all of the modern distractions we have come to rely on (TV, computers, etc). Plan for those times when there isn't much to do. Keep yourself amused and the kids entertained. Playing cards, simple board games for the boring times (usually when it is dark but too early to go to bed). A Bible or equivalent scripture may be comforting to some.

When beginning the process of getting yourself and your family prepared for tough times, if you concentrate on the above areas of focus you can quickly and effectively increase your chances of survival and at the same time become independent of the need to rely on others in the short and long term. It is important that you begin to prepare right away. This post is an attempt to make it easier for you to begin this process. Please, do not procrastinate and assume that others will be willing or able to help you out. Your life is your responsibility.

[What have you done today to prepare?]