I’ve been contemplating how I prepare my family lately. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to fall victim to the hype that I see around the latest and greatest survival gadgets. If it had the words “survival” or “emergency” stamped on the label then there was a good chance I bought it. Fortunately, I don’t do that much anymore. Instead, I like to focus my preps a bit differently. A bit more strategically.
Even so, I still don’t feel like I’m preparing my family 100% correctly. Take something very necessary to most preppers: the bug out bag. Yeah, I’ve got ours stuffed to the gills will all sorts of supplies. The thing is that I’m beginning to wonder what it is we REALLY need in them. After all, I’m not getting any younger and our bug out bags are looking larger every year. :) Anyway, besides clothes, maybe a few snacks to keep the kids from whining incessantly, a few bottles of water, and something to keep from getting drenched, I can’t think of much else we truly need.
Of course, it all depends on where you’ll expect to be bugging out to or through. If it’s going to be a wilderness adventure for you then you’ll need to pack differently. But, for us city folk, we don’t need much else. I doubt I’ll ever willfully remove the majority of the equipment I keep in our bags, but do I really need multiple fixed-blade knives, copious fire-starting equipment, a Steripen, Polar Pure, and Potable Aqua? I don’t know, but in my mind I would rather have something and not need it than need it and not have it.
Equally important to what I keep in our bags is how I pack them. If I think about what items we may need to grab at a moment’s notice, I can think of things like a flashlight, compass and map, dust masks, and first aid kit to name a few. While some of these items are readily accessible (such as the flashlight) I know for a fact that our dust masks are buried and difficult to get to if we really had to. And, it’s the same for micro-packing as well. The same can be said about my bug out bag first aid kit as well. Can I easily get to the bandages, gauze, gloves, and so on? Can others? In this case, it’s not just about what’s packed but precisely HOW it’s packed. I would imagine that the military and special forces ingrain these decision making processes but I never had that experience or training.
The same though processes can be used for any area of our preparedness. Take our shelter-in-place plan. While I have supplies needed for this scenario–mostly plastic and duct tape–the plastic is hard to get to and unless people know where I keep my tape they may not find that either. So, instead of just expecting that others (including me) can easily retrieve the supplies needed to deal with such a scenario, perhaps I should re-organize and re-think my strategy? Maybe I should place related items in bins or together on shelves for easy access? The two problems I see with this strategy, however, are that it requires more space to make it happen and may require me to purchase even more supplies than I would otherwise choose to purchase because they have a place in multiple scenarios, such as the duct tape mentioned.
When I think about how my supplies are organized, most of what I keep as emergency-related supplies are kept in large plastic totes. In general, my supplies are together but not necessarily readily accessible. I can see that during an emergency is the WRONG time to be frantically looking for [fill in the blank] gadget! That gets me to thinking that my wife, bless her heart, generally lets me do whatever I like with regards to prepping so long as I don’t break the bank so-to-speak. The problem is that she is often left unaware of what I do. The obvious problem is that I’m expected to be around during an emergency. Certainly, my wife needs to understand more of what I do.
What other situations can I think of? The list is virtually limitless, from how I pack our vehicle kits to how we prepare for any specific disaster and even how food stores are used. What I’m really talking about is the minutia that is involved in prepping. The deails, as it were. So, what can you take away from this? The biggest take away is to think about what you’re doing and why. Better yet, imagine as best as you can how any particular supply or piece of gear may be used, when, where, and why. For example, if I had thought about precisely when we may need dust masks from our bug out bags it may have dawned on me that we would need them quickly and, therefore, need to be accessed quickly. Had I thought about it like that then I may have packed our bags differently.