Emergency Preparedness is not a fad or a hobby, it is a responsibility. Preparedness is not “survival” either, although survival is one part of the equation. Emergency Preparedness is the willful commitment to responsibility and self reliant living. The key word, LIVING.
By this I mean, survival is the steps taken to ensure we continue to breathe until help arrives. Emergency Preparedness is the conscious decision to be able to live your life regardless whether help arrives or not. I am not saying we can make it alone, but we must be able to provide our water, shelter, food and other necessities whether the government or another organization offers us charity. We prepare by involving our immediate family, friends, neighbors, and others who believe that a disaster is bad but doing nothing is worse.
We face many hazards and threats in our lives; tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, active shooters, chemical spills, vehicle accidents, terrorism, etc. These can all look overwhelming as people look at separate supplies for each, but being prepared for one means being prepared for several with very minor additions needed if additions are needed at all.
A serious hazard to many who wish to be prepared is the false and misleading marketing strategies of those I deem “bandwagon retailers”. These are retailers who promote a pre-made kit devoted to nothing more than consumables that offer a few days of survival but no real answers to disaster preparations. They do not promote the knowledge and skills needed or the perpetual gear to sustain life for any longer than their consumables last. These kits are “ok” if all you need is to get back to your secure home, real disaster kit, and have the ability to maintain your life indefinitely (or until natural causes fulfill your destiny) but they are not “ok” if this is your sole plan for a disaster.
Another serious hazard (one I classify as a threat personally) is the inept campaigns put on by government agencies. While I applaud their idea to finally speak out and tell people to be prepared, their campaign is half hearted and geared strictly to the bandwagon retailers (which they also participate in with their “kits”) and not true preparedness. Their campaign focuses on the people buying consumables to only survive until assistance arrives. In my opinion, this is to advance their agenda that we need them in order to live and multiply their own feelings of importance.
Emergency Preparedness includes having kits but also includes the knowledge and skills needed to acquire these “consumables” without being able to buy them. While a “72 hour kit” should include 3 gallons of water (1 gallon per person per day minimum), this weighs 24 pounds and thus limits your ability to carry other needed gear and supplies. Also, if using dehydrated or freeze dried meals, the needed water grows exponentially to reconstitute your meals. A quality water filter will offer you the ability to produce potable water, weighs only ounces, and takes up much less space than 3 gallons of water. A filter is also good for possibly hundreds of gallons, which is better? While packing enough water for 3 days is unfeasible, you do need to have enough to maintain hydration until you can clear the immediate threat zone and acquire water from other sources. Carrying 2 quarts approximately should see you through to a water source as long as you have means to secure potable water.
Food is another item that bandwagon retailers promote heavily. You do need some food items packed but the ability, knowledge and skill to acquire food is also important. Traps, snares, fishing kit, and knowledge of wild edibles is important for food while traveling and gardening and livestock are vital for long term food sources. Purchasing a seed vault of open pollinated, heirloom seeds is a great place to start but do you have the knowledge, skills and prepared soil to make this an investment or is it just another false sense of security?
While the need to have wilderness skills is imperative to living and survival, these are not the only skills needed. The ability to start a fire for warmth and cooking, understanding the basics of shelter construction to retain heat and provide safety from weather, etc all can be used for non wilderness locations to offer more options during a disaster. Those who participate in wilderness activities, whether hiking, hunting, camping, fishing, boating, etc will need to acquire the knowledge and advanced skills necessary to survive longer term disasters in the event of an accident.
Our goal in the Emergency Preparedness community is to assist and encourage others to become more self reliant, not only for disaster needs but in their day to day lives. Pre made, “72 Hour Kits” may be needed and can offer a beginning point for preparedness if they are stocked with quality gear that is durable and offers longevity in use. True Emergency Preparedness strives to make people aware of the knowledge and skills required to overcome a disaster, not just sell some consumables to take advantage of people’s fear of things they do not understand. A disaster is bad but with true Emergency Preparedness steps taken, they are more of a hiccup in life than a true case of survival.
Emergency Preparedness is a proactive and preemptive approach to disasters and should not be reactive alone. Reactive is the mob shopping trips after the first snowflake falls or when the first winds of a hurricane blow. This also doesn’t offer much support for an un-forecasted threat like a tornado. By making the commitment to a preemptive lifestyle like Emergency Preparedness, disasters do not control your life and fear becomes an issue for others.
Emergency Preparedness should not be overcomplicated nor is there a need to become overwhelmed with all the “different” kits available. Most disasters are easily prepared for with the same items needed for other disasters with very few additions needed. The basics remain the same; core temperature, water, food, sanitation and medical. After these are obtained, threat specific tools, gear and supplies can be added to fill out your needs for your priorities.
The first step in determining what you need is to prioritize the threats you will likely face. Here in the Great Lakes region, I know I will see a blizzard/snowstorm every year. Tornados are common and likely for my area and floods happen more often than makes them a passing thought. CME/EMP is also a threat that may not have happened in 150 years but still exists and is an even greater threat now. I don’t have much to worry about from hurricanes, volcanoes or tsunamis. Earthquakes are possible with the New Madrid Fault but not common. These cover the natural disasters and then I must move on to man-made events. Vehicle accidents, especially during inclement weather, is a threat always. We see more and more incidents of active shooters and terrorism that must be planned for if we do not wish to live in fear of these vermin and thugs. Our economy is slowly lowering our standard of living and making home produced food more important. The polarization and rift between the People and their federal employees are a constant issue that can destabilize our society and the rule of law if apathy continues to be an untreated disease of voters.
The Emergency Preparedness community must bring our founding principles back to the forefront of our teachings.