A lot of us enjoy prepping for the long term, world-ending disasters but often forget about the immediate emergencies that may face us. With a quick google search, you can find millions of pages about how to survive the coming nuclear apocalypse, but startlingly few guides to surviving the next severe weather evacuation.
The following is far from a comprehensive how-to guide to survive the next category 5 hurricane that hits the east coast, but it contains some good pointers and basics to follow when creating a family emergency plan. I want you, the reader, to bare in mind that there is no guide on the web that will give you all the answers and I make no such promises. But following some of the simple steps below will allow you to take into account as much as possible when preparing for any short to mid term emergency, from house fires to sever weather evacuations, it is imperative to have a family plan.
Know the dangers, consider your surroundings.
This may sound fairly redundant but is overlooked far too often. Of course we can’t know every possibility but being prepared increases your chances of surviving or at least to make it through with your wits about you. Look around, where do you live? Is it a mountain side in the Appalachian Mountains? A flood plain? Tornado Ally? You see where I’m going with this, take into account the natural disasters that you might face weather it be a hurricane, tornado or earthquake, the bottom line is what do you need to be ready for? Even something as simple as a house fire is a contingency plan EVERYONE should have.
Okay, so we have taken into account what natural disasters we are likely to face at home, what about man made disaster? This doesn’t have to be martial law or world war 3 (I’m not saying don’t be prepared but that is another article). Unfortunately, these typically aren’t region specific, we all need to have a basic plan in place. Blackouts are a major concern, most are resolved in a few hours, but sometimes they last days. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_major_power_outages#2010.E2.80.932015) Riots have become a major concern recently as well as they become more common.
These disasters aren’t necessarily world ending disasters with death on a mass scale, but you may have to get out of town (or the house at least) for a little while until things settle down. Start by making a short list of emergency situations you are likely to face, be realistic, you probably shouldn’t include zombies or the Soviet troops kicking in your front door, but try not to leave out the simple things either. Anything that will interfere with your normal routine for an extended period of time.
Actually have a plan!
Now it might not be possible to plan every contingency for every possible emergency, this is why you follow the KISS rule. Keep It Simple Stupid. Don’t try to have a specific plan for each individual scenario but rather a grand plan with a few fall backs just in case. Have a plan for the act of actually leaving the house but maybe two different places to go depending on the situation. This can be similar to a fire drill (or exactly like one) plan where you will meet. Where a family member who might be at work can link up with the rest of the family. If it is a local disaster like a house fire for example, why leave town if it isn’t necessary? Plan to go to or meet at a family member’s house or even a hotel.
If it is a larger scale disaster like an evacuation. Make sure you have somewhere to go outside of town. You don’t want to be worrying about where you’ll go when NOAH gives you 3 hours to get out. Have a place to go planed out in another county or state if you have to. Try to make it somewhere that isn’t prone to the same natural disasters (moving inland for a flood for example).
Make sure your family knows the plan, practice it together if possible, it’s no use if no one else knows what is going on. We had fire drills at school, have one at home, make a plan together, go over it, then execute. A plan goes a lot smoother when it’s “go time” if you aren’t doing it for the first time during an actual emergency. This serves two purposes, the first being everyone is on the same page and is familiar with the meeting places and how to get their. This also helps with the mental and emotional challenges, it gives direction and assurance. It will help to offset the panic that can set in during an emergency situation. Being unfamiliar with your surroundings or not self assured that you know what you are doing will induce fear and fear will lead to other problems.
Make sure you have at least one ‘go bag’
This doesn’t exactly have to be a fully loaded survival load out for each member of the family that will keep everyone alive in the wilderness for the next 3 weeks. This can be as simple as a prepacked duffel bag or backpack that has a few key items in case you’re left with only moments to get out. This bag should be everything your family needs for the next 3-7 days, make sure it includes at least the following basics;
- A few bottles of water
- Some breakfast bars or other sealed foodstuff that you don’t have to worry about going bad
- Proper identification for all members of the family
- A few bucks cash, doesn’t have to be a lot, even $40 just in case.
- At least two changes of cloths for everyone in the family
- A simple first aid kit
- A basic survival kit (lighter, multi tool, fixed-blade knife etc)
An item I don’t like to put on the list but feel is just a necessary as any other, a hand-gun with at least 2 full clips. This may not be possible depending on your state or local laws and I would never recommend breaking the laws of the land. Some might disagree with this and I leave that to the individual, but keep in mind in emergency situations, there are those that WILL panic. Things can get hairy in any survival situation and it is always a good idea to have the ability to protect your loved ones.
So what have we learned?
Just to reiterate, this is far from a comprehensive survival guide, the goal here is to get you thinking of what needs to be done and where to start. Making your plan falls to you, you know your situation, your abilities, and your means better than anyone. Not everyone is going to need a plan for a blizzard or an earthquake, but if you do, HAVE ONE. Sit down with your family, have a discussion and decide what you’re going to do if worse comes to worse. Plan it, practice it, and prepare for it, that is what emergency preparedness is about.
Tell us some of your stories in the comment section below about the disasters your family might face and how you plan to overcome them.