FORMULATE YOUR PREPPER ACTION PLAN
Codify critical procedures before the crisis.
“THE RUSSIANS DON’T TAKE A DUMP, SON, WITHOUT A PLAN.” -ADMIRAL JOSH PAINTER, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER
These words came from a fictional character in the Tom Clancy book, The Hunt for Red October. Another paraphrased axiom might be that “sweat in peace prevents blood in war.” As this concept applies to survival prepping, it simply means that the time to think about what you are going to do is not when the zombies come ambling up the driveway.
It seems that even the government thinks planning for calamity is a great idea.
OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK
For those of us who work hard to pay our taxes, it can seem that we get precious little return for that massive recurring investment. We have decent roads and an admittedly prodigious pile of dead terrorists to show for our outlay, but most of that money always seems to go someplace other than the Dabbs family.
However, there are some government-sponsored online resources that can do a fine job of helping get you organized when it comes to planning for a crisis.
That website is www.ready.gov, and it is a FEMA product. The information is well-organized and easy to access. Potential threats range from pedestrian stuff (such as tornadoes and drought) to weird things (nuclear blasts, tsunamis and “space weather,” whatever that really is. Just kidding; the website explains it nicely). While the technical material should be of interest to anyone responsible enough to have purchased this American Survival Guide magazine, what it really did for me was get the juices flowing.
It was easy when my kids were young. We lived way out in the woods on a potentially self-sufficient farm and were armed to the teeth. When we had a bad storm or a power outage, we all just retreated to the basement and let it flow over us. However, my three kids now live in three different parts of the country, all far from home. Actions to take in the event of an emergency are altogether different today.
The products at Ready.gov include downloadable information cards to be used in an emergency. They provide a handy place to keep contact information for close friends and family. While you may have access to addresses and phone numbers for every relative, both immediate and distant, how about your 18-year-old college student daughter? If she had to get in touch with Uncle Joe or Aunt Jane when you weren’t there to help, and the Internet was but a memory, could she pull it off? Keep in mind that your cell phone, with its vast repository of personal and professional information, becomes a very expensive paperweight in the absence of electrical power.
A good action plan should include communications, food, water, egress, security, clothing and shelter. Think through your particular circumstances and tailor the plan accordingly. Ready.gov has worksheets and guidelines to help you get there. Obviously, the survival considerations for an investment banker in Manhattan are different from those of a Mississippi farmer. Your individualized family prepper action plan should reflect this.
HAVING A PLAN HELPS YOU CONSOLIDATE RESOURCES AND TAMPS DOWN PANIC. KEEP IT SIMPLE; SIMPLE STUFF IS WHAT WE REMEMBER WHEN WE ARE TERRIFIED.
When I was an Army officer, we planned for every imaginable eventuality. We all knew that the master plan would change the moment we made contact with the enemy. However, that original plan gave us a framework upon which to build, allowing us to adjust to the tactical scenario as it unfolded. The same concepts apply to a family prepper action plan.
My kids are hours away in sizeable urban cities. If disaster strikes, even if the infrastructure remains intact, chances are that the cell system will be overwhelmed. Your kids and distant family members need to know what to do so they will have that framework upon which to build if the world goes sideways.
Stick with texting. Texts require a fraction of the bandwidth of a voice call.
Make sure everybody has everyone else’s contact information in hard copy. Make a lost comms plan. In our case, my kids know to always keep their gas tanks above half full when there is trouble afoot. They are to meet me at a certain spot between their homes and mine at a certain time in the event comms breakdown and they have to run. On my end, I know where to go and look for them at our prearranged linkup site. Ideally, this keeps me from just rolling into their neighborhood—well armed—and looking for trouble after a disaster.
It can be a game of sorts: Get everybody together and just imagine what could happen, where and how. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, civil unrest and weather gone wild are good places to start. Review what happened on 9/11 and during hurricanes Katrina and Sandy for
WHEN THAT TIME COMES, HAVING A PLAN CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUCCESS AND FAILURE, HAPPINESS AND TRAGEDY.
inspiration. Once you have this basic framework in place, you can adapt to your reality as necessary. Having a plan helps you consolidate resources and tamps down panic. Keep it simple; simple stuff is what we remember when we are terrified.
Consider medical needs and plan to meet them. This can include critical medications or equipment. For instance—
• Insulin-dependent diabetes is a guaranteed death sentence in the absence of
insulin and a refrigerator.
• Kids have different needs than adults.
• Consider pets and close friends in your planning. You don’t want to end up so
desperate that you have to consider eating any of them!
• Differing languages and disabilities can change the landscape of a survival situation. Little things such as hearing aid batteries can become big things if you find yourself without them.
• Research local shelters’ policies concerning service animals if you have such, and
plan enough food and support gear to keep these critical assets online in a crisis. • Figure out a way to access emergency alerts and warnings when conventional means of communications are down. A compact weather radio is cheap and can be powered by anything from batteries to a hand crank to sunshine. Knowing what is really going on in the world can be half the fight.
Recon places such as schools and churches in advance so you know how to retrieve your kids in a crisis. I have a well-funded friend with a helicopter who has a plan to extract his children aerially from their local school in an emergency. While the rest of us will have to make do with the family minivan, the basic concepts still apply. Once you have a plan, document it so that everybody understands what to do and when. The assets at Ready.gov can help you get organized.
YOU ARE NEVER MORE THAN A SINGLE HEADLINE AWAY FROM HAVING TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF YOUR FAMILY.
The military trains repetitively, because that is how you hardwire information for use in a crisis. The key to reliable performance of the human machine when the blood really starts pumping is this training. That can be a theater-level exercise replete with tanks, strike aircraft, Special Operations forces and live ammo. It can also be a game wherein you yell, “Go!” and see how long it takes your 5-year-old to get out the door and meet you at the mailbox. If properly crafted, such exercises can be fun and potentially lifesaving.
Send your teenager a text five minutes before school lets out that says, “There has been a nuclear attack, and our neighborhood is overrun with radioactive mutants. What are you going to do?”
Meet them at your pre-ordained rally point and then go grab some ice cream. If the zombies ever show up for real, your kids will remember what to do. It need not be complicated.
Ready.gov is well reasoned and nicely executed. Because it is a government website, there is naturally precious little about firearms or defending yourself in a crisis. Even so, stuff such as government
resources and technical information is available in spades. (And cool magazines such as American Survival Guide will keep you abreast of all your kinetic options.)
Downloadable PDF files include printable emergency action plans for parents, kids and transit commuters. There are wallet-sized resources available, as well as tips and pointers on disaster preparation. There is also some explanatory information on the national system for emergency alerts and warnings. It’s all there … and it doesn’t cost you a dime to use it.
In its natural state, the world is chaos. We push back the best we’re able, but the inevitable inestimable entropy of the universe is always lurking just beneath the surface. You are never more than a single headline away from having to take responsibility for the safety and security of your family. When that time comes, having a plan can make the difference between success and failure, happiness and tragedy.
So much of our tax money is squandered on stupid stuff we don’t want or need. I couldn’t care less about solar-powered beer or a study to determine why bugs are attracted to lights (these are, in fact, two actual government projects that burned through more than $100,000 in 2015). However, www.ready.gov really does have some genuinely useful information that could help a great deal in a crisis. Surf on over and check it out.
… THERE ARE SOME GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED ONLINE RESOURCES THAT CAN DO A FINE JOB OF HELPING GET YOU ORGANIZED WHEN IT COMES TO PLANNING FOR A CRISIS.
Above: Shelf-stable food such as this from Mountain House will last 25 years or more if left unopened in a cool place. However, all the food and cool-guy gear on the planet is worthless if you lack the means to protect it. Above: It’s very possible...
Above: Echo-sigma sells a wide variety of survival gear designed for almost any imaginable emergency. The company’s rigs are well reasoned and include quality kit. Right: MRES (“meals, ready to eat”) are actually tasty if properly prepared. However,...
Above: You need to recognize the possibility exists that you might lose everything you own from a wide variety of threats. Creating and practicing an action plan is the first step in protecting as much as you can.
Above: Keeping hard copies of important contact information is always a good idea. Each family member should keep a copy handy. Use something like this two-page checklist to ensure that important stuff is gathered and available to all family members....