If you are a newcomer to preparedness planning or have been engaged for some time, the information and suggestions contained in this article will certainly help you begin or add to your experience of confidence and peace of mind and assist you with practical steps you can take.
The first step in the preparedness planning process is the acknowledgment that you have made a wise and sound decision and have chosen to take responsibility for you and your family and to be prepared in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Be encouraged to continue this process with diligence, motivation, and discernment.
It is my intention in this article to present a guideline that can be followed which will lead you on an important journey to being prepared in the event of any number of potentially unexpected events. This process is basically undertaken in three phases - each one of which will take as much time as you wish to devote, and the degree of urgency you are experiencing.
First, there is an initial assessment necessary to determine the direction you are heading.
Second, there is further evaluation, research, and planning required to develop a firm foundation for the third phase, and to develop the clarity required for appropriate and accurate decision making.
Third, there is taking action and assembling the appropriate provisions and critical information you have determined are necessary for your security and peace of mind. This phase is ongoing as you continue to evaluate, research, and build up your supplies and information.
The initial assessment
This consists of 6 basic questions that you are encouraged to answer that will lead you along the matrix to your destination:
What is your attitude concerning emergency preparedness?
What are the circumstances or scenarios and their severity you have determined may exist that will require you to rely upon your preparedness supplies?
What is the length of time you will be affected during these scenarios that you will be required to rely on your preparedness supplies?
For whom and how many are you preparing?
Where will you be?
How serious are you and how much time, effort, and money are you willing to devote to research, planning, and action, and with what help?
Elaborating on these 6 questions
Attitude - Are you positive, fearful, confused? A proper attitude during the preparedness planning process is essential and it is made more effective by exercising competent critical thinking and discernment skills. Reacting to fear or confusion can be an obstacle to efficient planning.
Scenarios - At the end of this article is a list of potential scenarios and circumstances that will help you answer this question. The events range from mild to catastrophic and fall generally into 3 categories: acts of God that tend to be local or regional; manmade that tend to be national; and momentous earth changes that tend to be national or worldwide.
Time - Your time frames can be as little as 3 days, which provide only a brief period of inconvenience, or as much as 1 year or more (I know of groups preparing for 7 years), that require a significant change of attitude and lifestyle. Also, at the end of this article, is a listing of various time frames and comments.
Who - Suggestions include an individual, family, friends, neighborhood, organization, company, club, or church or temple.
Where - How you answer the "Who" question will affect the answer to this question. In addition, consider whether a vacation/retreat location is applicable and whether there are multiple potential locations to take into account. Also, if you need to be mobile, what transportation options are available or required?
Seriousness - This question requires your honesty not just wishful thinking. Your level of commitment is important to the planning process, especially when it comes down to a financial commitment. Also, be honest about what you really know about emergency preparedness planning. Don't be afraid to do serious research and seek true expect opinion and perspective. Initial or additional knowledge is extremely important - and it might save your health or life.
Clearly answer the key questions given in the next "Important Issues" section.
Determine a realistic response to your unique economic and personal situation. Be careful to avoid reacting to and with the actions of others without first determining if these actions are appropriate for you. Don't get caught up in a "feeding frenzy" of buying.
Create an appropriate step by step plan of action on paper- sooner rather than later.
Continue to educate yourself using the vast resources of reliable information. Note: There are those with limited experience and knowledge who have suddenly appeared in the marketplace to take advantage of the situation. Buyer beware!
Assemble a library, data files, and Internet bookmarks; subscribe to related magazines, get tapes.
Go to conferences, workshops, and church meetings and talk to responsible leaders who have researched the issues you are concerned about.
Make a list of items you will need during your anticipated emergency situation. Prioritize it. Determine what you have on hand, and begin to fill out your list.
Create lists for differing locations, such as home, car, RV, or work.
Prepare an area where you live to store your supplies.
Make daily life in an emergency situation real to yourself and your family- Turn off your electricity, gas, water, and phone for 3 days, and don't count on any local stores or services. Don't wait for a sunny, warm day to try this- emergencies can happen in the winter!
Think quality- as if your comfort and life depended on it! You must discern between economy and reliability. All too often the cheapest is the least dependable; especially in an emergency situation, and even more so if the emergency is long term.
As you reflect upon and answer the questions in phase 1 and 2, you may choose to wait until you feel confident about the next phase -action - or you may begin (or perhaps you have already begun) to gather your supplies.
Answer all the questions in The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning.
Write down - on paper - the answer to as many of these questions as you feel are necessary to formulate a written preparedness plan.
Write down and complete any lists, inventories, important points, insights you have received, or anything else suggested or inferred in the articles that will help in your preparedness planning. Refer to the Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning.
Distribute and discuss your easily understood and complete preparedness plan for your family, company, or group.
Discuss and request feedback about your plans and supplies with others, as you feel appropriate - friends, experts, suppliers.
Continue doing research and evaluation.
Create an appropriate place to store supplies.
Add to, or begin accumulating and organizing, your provisions.
Experiment with the items you have. Know how to use them - or in the case of food - know how to prepare them and what they taste like (especially if they are unfamiliar). Emergencies are not the time for surprises.
Pray - if you are a religious or spiritually committed individual or family this would be the most important action to continually practice.
Additional tips to consider in the preparedness planning process
Many folks are reluctant to plan ahead, or they assume that the government or others will take care of them, or they are just too busy, or they just don't think it is necessary. As an option to doing nothing or to enhance some other level of preparedness planning you have chosen, consider the following. As you reflect on the scenarios that you presume might occur, think about the concept of a "triggering event." Ask yourself, what are the triggering events that will motivate me to immediate action? What triggering event will launch the imminent arrival of the scenario I have presumed might occur? If you have created a list of triggering events, you will be on the lookout for possible immediate action. While it is always desirable to plan ahead and have provisions in place, it is better to react at the last minute than not at all. Obviously, some scenarios may offer some prior indications, such as hurricanes, storms, or economic/political issues; while others can occur without warning (see the list of scenarios). You are responsible - you must choose to act or not.
After you have evaluated the questions and points in this article, a helpful point of view may be the idea of an "extended pantry program," or what might be considered as a building and expansion of your normal food usage and supplies. Start with a program that is compatible with your needs, assumptions, circumstances, and finances. You may want to start small and keep building.
Acts of God, Man - Made Earth Changes - Local, Regional, National, Worldwide:
Earthquake - Government regulation/control - Catastrophic Weather - Flood - Martial Law - Asteroid/Comet - Fire - Food Shortages - Pole Shift - Hurricane - Societal Breakdown - Solar Flare/CME - Storm/Ice/Snow - Civil Disobedience/Riots - Tribulation/Religious - Tornado - Medical Emergency - Severe Earth Changes - Drought - Economic Emergency/Collapse - Power Outage - Major Accident - Mud Slide - Terrorism Attack - Tsunami - Biological/Chemical/Radiological Attack - EMP - Electrical Magnetic Pulse Attack - Personal Issues - Bombing - Job Loss - War - Illness - Cyber Attack - No internet - Financial Loss - Various Other Emergencies
3 Days to 2 Weeks
Minor to moderate inconvenience and disruption of the daily routine. Basic supplies in the first 3 days would be valuable for comfort but not essential. An adequate amount of basic supplies after 3 days are important.
3 Weeks to 2 Months
The inconvenience is very noticeable and the routine disruption can be significant. Supplies required are usually on hand, and stockpiling some supplies will be very important.
3 Months to 6 Months
Preparedness planning is very important and a serious disruption to the daily routine is inevitable. Mobility and location to wait out the emergency is important in your planning. Proper supplies will be critical. Medical and other special needs must be planned for in advance.
6 Months to 1 Year
Unless you are very prepared and are committed to self-reliance, in this time frame your lifestyle will definitely be impacted. Serious attention to your preparedness planning is required. The questions covered in the foundational articles must be answered and a realistic plan created. Action and provisions are essential. You will be dealing with serious issues during this time period, and you must be prepared.
1 Year or More
Scenarios actualized in this time frame are this most serious and catastrophic, and will require a serious commitment to lifestyle changes. You will be dealing with national and worldwide calamity. The extent of the impact on everyone's life can not be over emphasized. Significant and detailed planning is required, and even with this an emergency situation of this duration will be wrought with uncertainty. This will be a time for community togetherness, sharing, and mutual support. Skills not normally possessed by folks will be required. Gardening and other self-reliant skills will be essential. Books, tools, and other valuable resources will be vital.