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Planning for Emergencies

This week for National Preparedness Month, let’s talk about making your plan for emergencies! There’s a plethora of emergencies that you can try to prepare for from flooding to space weather (think solar flares). Maybe you’re thinking that none of these could happen to me. They may or may not so it’s best to be prepared. What you need to focus on for yourself, your family, and your business is what are credible emergencies we may have to deal with. For instance, those in Ohio are less likely to see a hurricane and more likely to see a tornado. Florida is less likely to experience an avalanche, although it is Florida so let’s not rule anything out.

Start by determining what is a possible hazard for you and where you live. Also, think of areas you frequently visit like parents and grandparents’ homes or vacation spots. Things to consider are common severe weather for the area, population/city issues (riots and pandemics), power structure failures (dams and nuclear), and infrastructure collapse. Infrastructure collapse is a broad category covering everything from power outages, road/bridge maintenance (collapse/flooding), to a complete loss of government.

Now that you have your list of likely scenarios, let’s start planning for them. The broad strokes for planning for all these situations is the same. Identify the hazard and the impact, plan for immediate threats and long-term complications, and make a contingency plan for when the initial plan fails. For instance, let’s talk tornado. The immediate threat is, obviously, the tornado. Do you clear the area or shelter in place? That choice will depend on the size, direction, and proximity of the tornado. If its overhead, shelter in place. If its 1 mile out, gaining steam and heading your way, bug out.

Next, you survive the immediate threat, now what? What are the long-term complications? Is your home usable or is it a loss? If it is a loss, where do you go? If its usable, what’s the damage? Do you have power? What’s your backup to not having power for 3 weeks? Can you get food, water, groceries during that time? This is where you need to have stores of non-perishable items and fuel. Consider what you have to barter, cash may still be king, but a gallon of water may go a lot farther in a situation like this. Let’s say you have 2 weeks of food, 1 month of water, enough batteries and fuel to cook and survive at least 2 weeks. What is your contingency if something else happens?

You and your family survived, your house survived the immediate threat, your stores of supplies survived the initial tornado… but then Murphy’s law takes over and turns your plan upside down. Power has been down for 3 days and it’s getting cold at night. Your neighbor, in an attempt to keep everyone in their house warm, lights an oil lamp in the house and their cat knocks over the lantern. Their house goes up and the fire is spreading to your house. You and your family make it out, but you’ve now lost half your food, water, and fuel. What do you do next? What is your contingency? This is where having a secondary bug-out location with additional supplies can come into play. That secondary location doesn’t need to be another plot of land you own, maybe it’s an in-laws 250 miles inland or a cousin 2 hours south. These should be things you consider in your plans and create a network of people that can rely on each other in these situations.

Whatever the emergency, you need to survive first, then have a plan and contingencies after that. There is a famous quote that would apply to these scenarios too, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy”. Know that what you expect to happen and what you plan for, may go out the window immediately. Make your plans easy to follow and simple to understand. You need to be able to recall them quickly without referencing a 2” binder. And most importantly, once you have the plan, make sure your family knows it as well as you do.