M4S 004: Preparedness Planning in 9 Easy Steps

Learn the nine basic steps of preparedness planning
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There are 9 components to successful preparedness planning to ensure that your strategies work when it really counts. To create a plan that will work for you and your family, you need to take some time to figure out the information below so that you have all the data you need to increase your likelihood of success.

Preparedness Planning Steps

You’ve probably heard that saying, “How do you eat a whole elephant?” with the answer “one bite at a time.” Well, the same holds true with preparedness planning.  The steps below seem really simple, but this helps to take the overwhelm out of something as huge as potentially saving your family member’s lives.

Step 1: Make Time to Plan

You need to set aside time to make the plan. Write it down on your schedule like an appointment, and stop putting it off. You need to treat this time seriously and focus completely on what you’re doing. You may be doing all the planning by yourself, or you may be coordinating with your partner, so be sure to accommodate their schedule too.

Not doing so can cause you to rush or wait until the last minute. If you do your preparedness planning while the event is unfolding, you’ll increase the possibility of making mistakes at the worst possible time.

Step: 2:  List Who and What You Are Protecting

You will need to decide on who and what you can protect. You can’t protect everyone and everything. You’ll have to decide who and what is most important to you personally and for survival. While you might want to save the entire neighborhood, it may come down to just being able to save your family.

So take some time to prioritize. Obviously, your family comes first. You may be able to include some close neighbors or friends in your plan. Put it all in order.

You may be planning to protect things as well as people. Your home, garden, and vehicle might all be on your list of things to protect. For example, if you live in hurricane country, boarding up your windows helps protect your home from storm damage.

Remember, protection isn’t just about violence. It’s about a multitude of potential threats, which leads us to the next step.

Step 3: What Do You Want to Protect From?

Now, think about what threats you are the most likely to be facing.

For some, the main focus of their preparedness planning is directed toward natural disasters like tornados, floods, hurricanes, or earthquakes. Perhaps you live near a nuclear or chemical plant and worry about an industrial incident.

Or is your plan directed towards knucklehead terrorists or a random auto accident?

Think about what is most likely for you, not about a more far-fetched Mad Max scenario.

Step 4: What Are Your Resources

What resources do you have available? Resources can include many different things, such as

  • time
  • money
  • supplies
  • food
  • housing
  • skills
  • storage space
  • natural resources (water source, etc.)
  • vehicles
  • equipment
  • secondary location

You’ll need to analyze what you have, whether you have enough, and if you need to add resources.

Step 5: What Is Your Daily Life?

Disasters and bad guys strike at different times and are unpredictable. You need to think about different scenarios and how to handle them based on your daily schedules.

Where will you and your family members be at certain times of the day? Do you have a central meeting point? A plan for picking up the kids?

Preparedness planning needs to be able to be flexible and keep up with your changing life.

Step 6: How Long Will You Be Required to Execute the Plan?

You will need to have an idea of how long you are going to be in and executing your plan. Obviously, disasters are rarely isolated events, and there will be variables. But if you look at the history of your area, you can get a pretty good idea of how long you’ll be using your plan.

This will help you to decide the amount of food and the specific supplies that you’ll need. Are you planning for a three-day blizzard or a 30-day flood?

Step 7: “What if” It

Use “what ifs” while fine-tuning your preparedness planning. Ask yourself, “what if” this happened? By realistically pre-thinking through some scenarios, you will improve your plan over time and be ready for those variables that inevitably pop up, like detours on the road you were planning to use for evacuation.

Step 8: Contingency Planning

Every plan has a breaking point. No matter how carefully you plan, something can always go wrong. You need to think about what could cause your plan not to work. Think these through and incorporate them into your plan if possible. Forget about simply Plan B – there’s a whole alphabet for contingency plans.

Step 9: Discuss the Plan with Your Loved Ones

Okay. You’ve done it. You’ve created a plan, and you need to discuss it with your family, friends, and any others involved in it. They need to know their roles and what they are responsible for to make the plan work. Be ready to incorporate their feedback into the plan – they may think of something you’ve overlooked.

Preparedness planning without discussing it with the people involved may doom your plan to fail.

The Bottom Line on Preparedness Planning

Preparedness planning, by its very nature, must be something done in advance of the crisis occurring. A prepared mindset can help you overcome a lot of surprises, but having a general plan for your most likely emergencies is essential.


Stay safe,



  1. Fast Eddie on July 3, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    It appears that a consistent theme is knowing what you want to protect, what you must protect it from and what you have to protect it with, be it existing security measures, emergency funds etc.

    Tip of the beret to Ranger Runci.

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