I have probably had more experience with families and children than any ten “researchers.” They research by interviewing troubled children or by reading the publications of others. My “research” comes from thousands of homes I have visited and parents and youth I have counseled. I spent hundreds of hours over the course of 15 years ministering in a boys’ home, becoming well acquainted with the youth. I became close friends with some of them after they were grown and had children of their own. I have spent over 2,000 hours in prisons speaking with the inmates and hearing their stories.
I have an emergency preparedness plan because it is more blessed to give than to receive, and if you can’t help yourself, how will you help someone in need?
Obviously, the future is uncertain, so I advise people to mitigate known risks, and that tends to get you ready for the unknown as well. To some extent, when you prepare for anything, you’re prepared for everything.
Probably the most common obstacle that stops people from enacting an emergency preparedness plan is the disruptive effect it can have. Most people can’t move to the wilderness of Utah; they have mortgages, families, jobs, church, and Little League coaching or ballet classes. That’s why I recommend preparing systematically in a way that adds only a little additional time and inconvenience to your routine.
In most cases, a systematic plan incurs very little expense. If you purchase things you’re going to use anyway, you’ve lost no money and gained the certainty of having the supplies in hand.
I also urge people to take steps that yield immediate benefits, not just if there’s an emergency. For example, get in shape to deal with the stresses of off-grid living, in the event of an electrical grid failure. My personal favorite fitness regime is strength training. The benefits are immediate; I don’t have to wait for a grid-down situation to enjoy them.
In the summer there will be tornados and hurricanes, and in the winter, blizzards and ice storms. Coastal and riverside residents face a risk of flooding. Certain regions of the world run higher risks of earthquakes. On any given day you might have a flat tire and face a potentially life-threatening emergency, or be stuck in traffic for several hours with a young child in the car—a potentially deadly situation, depending on the weather. Use these common situations as a test of your abilities. If you can’t even prepare for mundane, everyday inconveniences, how will you prepare for serious emergencies?
Most people start by shoring up their food and water supplies, but my question is always, “where?” Where are you going to put this stuff? Do you have a safe place? Make sure your house is secure before you prepare it for an extended stay in an emergency.
I recommend 2,000 calories of food and 2 gallons of water per person per day for everyone in the household, plus half again that number, for a minimum of two weeks. For example, if you have a family of four, stock up for six.
If the power goes down, you’ll need a backup heat source, like a wood stove and some dried, stacked firewood. There are many other off-grid issues: Is your well on an electric pump? How will you get water? How will you cook? How will you sanitize anything? How will you see in the dark? What about all the food in the freezer?
No matter how remote and secure your location, it might be compromised, forcing you to evacuate. In that case, you need a place to go. It should provide shelter, food, water, and medical supplies for an indefinite time. It must be accessible by back roads so you can reach it when major highways are jammed. If you can’t reach this location on about ½ tank of fuel in your getaway vehicle, extend the range of your vehicle or stash hidden fuel supplies on your route. Have a hard copy map of the area you’ll be traveling. Don’t count on the Internet or GPS to find your way. If you live in an urban setting, you absolutely must have an evacuation plan. Identify the “triggers” that will make you leave, so you don’t have to think about it under stress.
Your neighbors are potentially your greatest asset in an emergency, but only if they are prepared. Otherwise, they are potentially your worst threat. Find friends and neighbors who are interested in preparing with you.
For most people I recommend a gun safety course and some tactical training, as well as a basic self-defense course. Then go get a carry permit and take that handgun wherever you can. Which weapons and ammo is a very individualized issue that depends on many factors, not the least of which are your personal history, physical capabilities, and legal environment. For this reason I usually refrain from giving generalized advice.
Manny Edwards is an independent Emergency Preparedness and Security Consultant and the host of SURVIVAL TIPS on WND-TV. He has a blog at SurvivalNewsOnline.com,
and lives in Middle Tennessee with his wife and five children. He can be reached at [email protected].
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