A List

The room goes dark and quiet. Power outage. Why really doesn’t matter right now; right now you’re sitting in a dark house. Time to start putting some of your preps to use. Duration of the blackout and appropriate level of concern, will be determined as things progress. But for now, you feel good about your families’ situation; your five basic needs are met pretty well.

But what about your daily wants and activities? We are creatures of habit; our routines give us comfort. To establish some type of normalcy will be important. Once we are warm, fed, and safe; the next complaint will be lack of everyday activity and boredom.

So what now? It’s hard to address these issues if you haven’t thought about them before. So as a family we tried to brainstorm all the things we do–at the house–on a regular basis. (No particular order, we just went around the group and each of us named something until we couldn’t think of anything else.) We didn’t try to solve any problems, or develop any ideas. I just wanted a list of things we regularly do, and to create an awareness of our normal activities.

Eventually, I want to look at each item on the list and determine it’s relative importance in an emergency situation. Do we need a back-up, a substitute, or possibly an alternate way of achieving the same end?

But for now, it’s just a list:

  1. Going to the bathroom
  2. Internet
  3. Cooking
  4. Drinking water
  5. Brushing teeth
  6. Reading
  7. Watching TV shows
  8. Putting on make up
  9. Sleeping
  10. Studying and learning
  11. Laundry
  12. Shaving
  13. Music
  14. Hanging with friends
  15. Washing hair
  16. Dishes
  17. Getting dressed
  18. Drawing
  19. Keeping food cold
  20. Wake up with alarm
  21. Crafts
  22. Drinking alcohol
  23. Using computers (non Internet)
  24. Taking medicine
  25. Texting
  26. Games
  27. Playing with and caring for pets
  28. Staying warm
  29. Watching movies
  30. Taking out trash
  31. Vacuuming
  32. Taking pictures
  33. Using microwave
  34. Dealing with menstrual cycles
  35. Sweeping
  36. Fixing stuff
  37. Video games
  38. Preparing food
  39. Changing batteries
  40. Telling time
  41. Washing hands and face
  42. Opening doors
  43. Showering
  44. Talking
  45. Building things
  46. Drinking coffee
  47. Relaxing
  48. Baking
  49. Cleaning
  50. Putting on lotion
  51. Locking doors
(Friday: What I Did This Week To Prep)

Location, Location, Location

five basic needs: 1) food, 2) water, 3) SHELTER, 4) security, and 5) energy

Shelter, Shelter, Shelter.

All locations are not created equal; big city, suburbs, small town, rural area. Where do you live? Your location will determine what type of disasters you are more likely to encounter, what services will be available in the aftermath, and the potential risks to your family and home during that emergency. A disaster that is catastrophic in one setting, may have very little effect in another.

Example: An apartment in a large city vs. a house in a rural community when an 8.5 earthquake strikes. City: gas, water, and electric lines break, fires start, water pressure drops, buildings partially collapse, debris falls, power is out, traffic gridlocks, the dense population panics. Rural: things fall off shelves, maybe the power goes out and you have to use your generator for a few days.

Some disasters, like the earthquake or a terrorist attack, give us no notice and all we can do is work to recover afterward. But others, like a hurricane, pandemic, or flooding give us time and the opportunity to make an informed decision.

<cue Should I Stay or Should I Go? by The Clash>

The decision: Bug in or bug out (stay or go)? If you bug in, what are your contingency plans to compensate for potential lost services: food, water, security, energy? If you choose to bug out (or have to), where are you going? What do you take if you leave? What do you leave if you, um, leave? What route are you going to take to get to your bug out location (BOL)? You also need to consider the ‘leave right now’ disaster where there are only minutes to evacuate, like a fire, or a gas leak.

With so many factors affecting this decision, how do you decide to stay or go? You analyze the situation, think about your plan, and ultimately decide: Am I most likely better off if I stay, or better off if I go?

If you choose to go, having a pre-determined plan is invaluable. Once the disaster starts, people may be scared, disoriented, separated, or hurt; it may be dark and/or cold (don’t ‘these things’ alway happen at night?), if we have a plan, we all at least know where to start. A written evacuation plan needs to include: 1) a ‘short list’ of what to grab quickly before you leave your home, 2) multiple routes to get out of your area and to your BOL(s), and 3) an extensive list of contact information for people and businesses in your life.

‘I don’t have anywhere to go,’ you say. If that’s truly the case, then you stay. But a temporary BOL may be as simple as a motel in a ‘safer’ area. Determine that area, one with several motels; make a list of their numbers in your evacuation plan. If you decide to leave, call early and get reservations. Motels frequently have generators and their own disaster plan in place.

Or, talk with a friend or family member; don’t just ask if you can go to their home, but agree to be each other’s BOL if necessary. Create a plan together. If you live in the city and they are rural consider pre-staging items in their home. But, if you’re city, why would they evacuate to you? A local emergency and they just need somewhere to stay a night or two.

We plan for the most likely disruptions first: personal injury, fire, local emergency, local weather. The catastrophic ones: major natural disaster, pandemics, terrorist attacks; if they come, will still require similar plans and preps. Developing an evacuation plan costs no money, only time – take that time now when things are calm (relatively speaking) so you can be ready when things aren’t.

(Wednesday: No, You Can’t Take It)