Everyone likes to consider–and chime in on–what’s the most important thing you can do to prepare yourself and your family for survival. It’s a similar question to “if you could only take three pieces of gear with you what would you take” line of questions.
Depending on your situation and circumstances, the answer to this could be any number of resources, including the need for water (such as in the relentless desert), shelter/clothing (in a blizzard), or food (when the grocery store shelves are empty). For more specific disasters, appropriate radiation protection would prove vital in a nuclear strike, EMP protection for your gear in a planned attack, or N-100 masks in a pandemic.
But, I don’t like to prepare myself or my family for very specific emergencies. Certainly, there are actions to take with respect to some disasters but I prefer to prepare for generalities… you know, life in general. So, with that in mind, what are the three most important actions you can take for your survival?
Here’s what I think….
Action 1: LEARN Whatever You Can (no, REALLY learn)
For quite some time I could have been considered what you might call an “armchair prepper” because I spent most of my time reading and generally soaking up information but never really learning, that is, getting hands on experience that is truly needed to be prepared.
You see, there’s a night-and-day difference between reading and watching videos all day long and actually getting my “hands dirty” if you will and getting that much-needed experience with my gear and equipment. I like to accumulate stuff. I liked to play with the cool toys. I might have even read an instruction manual or two. But, I rarely spent time understanding how my gear worked.
For example, I had a solar oven that I didn’t use for many months on end. Instead, I simply assumed that I could/would use it when the time comes. I would say that my experience with the sun oven over just a few months alone shows that it’s not that easy. The same can be said with any piece of gear you want to talk about.
Sure, reading online (such as this blog) will help. But I’m amazed every week at how deficient I was at utilizing my gear. Please don’t let that happen to you! Get your gear out. Now use it! Yeah, it’s that simple. The more familiar you are with your gear the more second-nature it will be if/when you ever need to rely on it.
Action 2: Make a PLAN (no, a REAL plan)
Yup, make a plan! Sure you can use guides like the rule of 3′s to decide what’s most critical and they will help guide you, but if you really don’t have a plan as to how you and your family will react (yes, REACT) to said emergency then you really don’t have a clue. Likewise, skills are definitely critical and a variety of supplies could be life-savers but it’s the plan that puts your response in motion!
This is a good place to point out that I’m a huge proponent of sheltering in place regardless of the emergency (with a few notable exceptions such as an obvious hurricane bearing down on you) so most of our plans are geared around staying put. There are, however, a few instances where bugging out may be a better option for us. The thing is that unless we specifically state–on paper–what we intend to do we may find ourselves making inappropriate and/or poor decisions when the time comes to make those decisions. Stress and fear are powerful motivating factors, though, usually in a wrong direction.
So, by simply having our plans in place and written down on paper where we can discuss and think about them then we’re far more likely to be able to take appropriate actions to deal with whatever it is we’re faced with. And I do understand that any emergency situation can throw a monkey wrench into your plans; that said, I feel it’s far better to have a place to start and go from there than to have nowhere to begin.
Fortunately, I created an Excel-based set of emergency plans and tools that are meant to help you do just this: create a plan. While you don’t need this file to do it (you can create your own) the point was to get you to think about your plans for the top 5 major disasters you want to prepare for as well as what you will need to both shelter in place and prepare to bug out.
For a long time I never felt like I needed to put this down on paper… until I did it. I’m not saying our plan is perfect (not at all) but it did raise quite a few questions and pointed out some holes in our expectations. And it forced me to include my family in the plans! Yes, I had to talk to my wife about it even though she generally lets me do whatever I want with respect to prepping. This was the most important part of it all: communicating (and explaining).
Now, we’re on the same page and at least everyone has a clue as to what to do. I sleep better at night knowing everyone else understands and is on-board.
Action 3: ACT Now (yes, NOW!)
I’m not one to suggest that the world is going to end tomorrow, the economy is going to collapse next week, or even that life will ever be anything but blissful… well, maybe that last one is going a bit too far.
I will say, however, that there’s no time like the present to get your act in gear because you truly never know when an emergency situation will strike. After all, that’s why they’re called emergencies. There’s plenty of information here to get you started or, if you prefer, an assortment of recommended blogs that will as well.
And remember that while it’s important to get your act together sooner rather than later, you need to do so sensibly, without going into debt, and with respect to your family’s specific circumstances and needs. If you need advice or just someone to listen, feel free to email me whenever you like (or even comment below). I may not know all the answers (actually, I certainly DO NOT know all of the answers) but I’m always happy help and point you in the right direction where I can.
While we may never meet in person, we’re in this together… as a community and nation. Let’s make the most of it!