Many people start out with just a vague idea that they need to have a little preparedness in their lives. Maybe (like me several years ago) they just suddenly realize that they are completely unprepared for even the most minor disaster or emergency (let alone a major catastrophe!).
Most people don’t want to believe that they will ever have to use survival skills or rely completely on their own preparedness. It’s easy to be complacent when everything seems great. However, the harsh reality is that existing emergency services are quickly overwhelmed by even modest disasters, let alone during major natural or man-made disasters. Talk to people who survived hurricane Sandy, or Katrina, or Harvey. Don’t be at the mercy of others for your safety and survival! Take ownership, take responsibility, and don’t be a victim.
Take the First Steps
Here are some simple steps to begin on the path to taking your safety and wellbeing into your own hands:
- Define YOUR goals. Once you delve into the prepping rabbit-hole, it’s easy to get lost. “Prepping” encompasses an insanely-large amount of territory, and one can dip a toe in the prepping water, or dive into the prepper ocean. So, ask yourself a few questions about your motivations and goals. Discuss your intentions with your family, if you have one. Put it in writing. Write down your prepping goals, your budget, and come up with a plan. This will save countless hours in the long run and will give you a method to track progress.
- Do YOUR own research. At the time of this writing, a quick web search of the term “prepping” turns up over 22 million results. There is a nearly endless amount of material out there. The sheer volume of information can be overwhelming. That’s why one should define their goals and search for a narrower set of topics. Every journey begins with just a single step so make sure that is a step in then right direction.
- Get YOUR family involved early. If you have a family, then it is imperative that you include them from the start. Explain your reasoning for doing something which may seem unusual to them at first. Again, clearly defining your goals ahead of time will help a lot. From my personal experience, it’s a good idea to keep the doom and gloom to a minimum. You’re not trying to scare them. Instead, you want their enthusiastic support for your efforts to keep them safe.
- Create YOUR Bug-Out Bag (BOB). The bug-out bag is the low-hanging fruit of the prepping effort. This kit will contain everything you need to survive for at least 72 hours in a disaster situation. Every member of your household should have their own BOB, and you should prepare them for your pets as well.
- Make an evacuation plan. If there is a SHTF (“Stuff” Hits The Fan) situation, you grab your BOB and go! But where are you going? Who is going with you? Does everyone know the plan? Think about the logistics of getting where you want to go. Create a Plan B, and even a Plan C and D. To paraphrase Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. Life will punch you in the face, so be adaptive.
- Get in shape. You are the most important piece of survival gear! What good does it do to have detailed plans and all kinds of cool toys if you can’t make it up a flight of stairs without taking a break? Put on that 72-hour pack and get used to the weight of it. Eat right and exercise. That goes for your pets, too! Do you really want to be stuck carrying your 120 lbs Labrador Retriever because you give them lots of treats and not enough walks?
- Extend YOUR network. Discuss with extended family and friends. Once you have a plan, started making some actual preparation, and have your own family on-board, it’s time to reach out to others. Spread the word among people you trust. First, you will include them because you care about them. However, there’s a more practical reason: Safety in numbers! It may seem like it will be difficult to “herd the cats” and get everyone on the same page in an actual disaster situation. But that difficulty is far outweighed by the benefits of numbers. A larger group is far less likely to be the victim of attack, plus everyone can pool their talents and resources.
- Get YOUR vehicle ready. You may leave on foot, or a situation may dictate that you have to “bunker down” in your home. However, it is very likely that at least the first leg of your disaster plan involves driving to some other location. Suddenly, your life may depend on the proper functioning of your car. Keep it maintained, inspect it once a week (tires, tire pressure, oil, coolant, belts, hoses, etc.). Don’t take it for granted that it’s in perfect shape just because it’s a newer vehicle. Murphy’s law doesn’t care if your vehicle was made one week ago, or ten years. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, as well.
- Adapt and change. Keep your readiness up-to-date. You have the basics in place: A good plan (well-rehearsed), a bug-out bag for each family member, your car/truck/SUV is in top-notch shape. As you learn more, refine your plan and check your kits. Make changes where necessary. Did you move from Seattle to Phoenix? You might want to adjust your plans AND your equipment. The same holds true if the nature of a likely disaster changes.
- Work YOUR plan. Practice your emergency plans and stay sharp. Continue to learn and grow. The best way to master any subject is to teach it to others. When sharing your knowledge with friends and family, encourage them to ask tough questions. Then find the answers. Incorporate your learning into your prepping.
Stay Focused, Be Rational, Stay Motivated
Keep in mind that you are prepping to live, not living to prep. However, preparedness should be an integral part of your life, and you should take it seriously. That means dedicating a set amount of time each week to learning and teaching others. Just like diet and exercise, it’s an insurance policy. Planning and training alleviate panic, and panic can be deadly. The military has taught me that, in a stressful situation, everyone reverts to their most basic level of training. In other words, in an emergency, whatever you practiced is what you will do. Keep that in mind.
Editors Note Another guest post from SignalSergeant to The Prepper Journal.