M4S 045: The 7 Top Tips for Disaster Preparedness
Disasters can happen to anyone, anywhere. These tips for disaster preparedness can help people save their own lives. By taking the time to review and analyze your situation before a crisis occurs, you’ll find yourself better able to overcome emergencies.
1) Perform a Personal Risk Assessment
A personal risk assessment will help you identify the major disasters and emergencies that you should prepare for. After all, if you live in Miami, preparing for a blizzard may not be a very good use of resources. However, preparing for a hurricane is probably an excellent use of your resources. Similarly, if you live in California, you’ll probably want to focus on earthquakes and wildfires rather than tornados. It’s important to remember also to consider situations that many people don’t typically prepare for, such as an EMP or another often overlooked possibility.
Red Cross Disasters Page
If you’d like to check out other possible scenarios to make sure you’ve done a thorough job with your risk assessment, you can go to the Red Cross website. There, you’ll find a long list of potential disaster scenarios along with disaster preparedness tips to help you prepare for each possible scenario. It’s well worth the time to check it out.
Now, I doubt any of you Mind4Survival Survivors have this issue, but we never know. However, if you are someone who believes your area won’t be affected by disasters, you’re sadly mistaken. If you’ve ever said, “That could never happen to me,” you may be suffering from normalcy bias. If you believe a disaster or other emergency won’t ever impact you, you’re probably wrong, very wrong.
2) Prepare for Bugging In
Regardless of the situation, when disaster strikes, you only have two choices. You can bug in or bug out. Bugging in means you’re going to stay in your home and attempt to ride out the situation, whatever it is. The primary key to think about when making your decision is that you may be stuck once you choose to shelter in place. Think of the people stranded by floods. If they were slow in getting out, they often couldn’t get out.
If you decide that bugging in is an option as you make your disaster response plans, you’ll want to make sure you are prepared. After all, if the situation is dire enough to consider leaving your home, it’s probably so tricky that you may be stuck on your own for a while. So again, you’ll want to make sure you follow these disaster preparedness tips for a shelter-in-place scenario.
Some reasons to consider bugging in are:
Disabilities: If you or a loved one has a disability that makes bugging out very difficult. The fact of the matter is that not all of us can quickly pack up and leave our homes. Due to life circumstances, some of us may be forced to stay at home and ride out a disaster.
Prior Preparation: You have prepared ahead of time for a bugging-in scenario. This means you’ve stocked up on food, fuel, and water. You should consider alternate means of communication. Since cell phones and hard-lined phones may be down, having another means of communication to receive updates on the situation and to let people know how you’re doing will be significant. Additionally, as we saw in Hurricane Katrina and other disasters, evil people try to capitalize on the situation to do bad things. So, you’ll want to be ready to defend yourself. Fortunately, not all the people you’ll meet in a bug-in scenario are dangerous. Some may be stuck in a bad spot just like you, and you may want to be prepared to help others. Yes, that’s a controversial subject within the prepping community. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision each of us needs to make.
Reliable Transportation: If you don’t have a reliable means of transportation, bugging out could put you in a worse position than bugging in. Think about it. Would you rather be in your home during a disaster, or would you instead be stuck on the side of the road with a broken-down car? What about walking with a pack on your back during hurricane-force winds? Neither of those options is good or advisable. So, remember to include your vehicle in your preparedness plans. Keep it maintained as part of your preparedness plan, and you stand a much better chance of getting to where you need to go during a bug-out scenario.
The Viability of Your Bug Out Location: Is the area you plan to bug out to impacted by a disaster? It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same disaster. Perhaps you want to get out of the way of an oncoming hurricane, but your bug-out plan was to travel to an area that was just hit by a dangerous tornado, fire, etc. Remember the old preparedness saying, one is none, two is one. That also applies to bug-out locations. So, make sure you incorporate alternate plans when you are preparing your family emergency plan.
3) Preparing to Bug Out
By now, most preppers know that bugging out is no walk in the park. Well, it’s not a walk in a beautiful park.
What is Bugging Out?
For those who may be new to this, bugging out means the situation is so bad that you decide to forego bugging in. Instead, you plan on packing up everything you can carry and hitting the road by whatever means possible. Hopefully, you’ve planned it out ahead of time and have a good mode of transportation set to go, so you don’t have to try to outpace the disaster.
Prepare Bug Out Bags
If you’re planning to bug out, you’ll want to prepare a bug-out bag for yourself and each family member capable of carrying one. Without bug-out bags, you may find yourself leaving your home with just the clothes on your back. Think about the news reports of the fires out west. How often do we see a family who is unprepared fleeing for the lives with nothing? It happens all of the time, so don’t let it happen to you.
Plan Your Evacuation (Bug Out) Routes and Safe Havens
Figure out how to get to your bug out location now. Be sure to have paper maps and atlases on hand. The middle of an emergency is not the time to decide on your escape route. The time to make your travel plans is long before disaster strikes. In all actuality, your route planning should be one of the first things you do when working on your bug-out plan. After all, if you don’t have any idea about how you’re going to get somewhere, can you bug out all that well?
Primary – Secondary – Tertiary Routes
As you all probably know, you want to plan on multiple routes. In the military and when working overseas, we called these routes our primary, secondary, and tertiary routes. Yeah, tertiary is a funky word. It means third in the order of level. Why do you need at least three routes? Well, because as mentioned earlier, one is none, and two is one. If you only plan for two routes, you may find yourself stuck should the second route have problems. While planning for at least three routes may take some time, it will be well worth it.
Practice Your Routes
Speaking of well worth it, it is well worth it to drive your routes to your bug out location. The more you drive them, the more familiar you’ll be with them. That translates into improved odds of bugging out success. That’s especially true when you find yourself bugging out in the middle of a cold, dark, nasty, disaster-filled night. For more information bugging out, check out this PDF guide.
4) Safe Havens & Re-Supply Points
When you’re planning out your routes, make sure to identify safe havens and re-supply points.
Safe havens are places that, by their nature, should be reasonably safe and secure. As you look for these retreats, look for places that are away from main roads and highways. You want the option to avoid people if possible. So, places such as rest stops, gas stations, and other high-traffic areas may be poor choices for safe-havens. Instead, try finding side roads that are a decent distance away from the main route. Look for wooded, less populated spots that you can stop in.
If you know people along the way, that is even better. If you plan to go to someone’s home, you will want to discuss it with them ahead of time. The last thing you want to do is surprise someone when times are tense. You could end up having a copper jacketed personal disaster if it goes wrong. Also, when planning for your safe havens, consider which ones you may be able to stay at for several days and which may only support a brief stop.
As you look for safe havens, you should also try to identify potential resupply points along the way. Hopefully, you won’t need to resupply, but it’s always something worth considering. The viability of resupply points may vary. Some people like to cache supplies along the more remote areas of their route ahead of time. Others try to identify friends they can leave some supplies with in advance.
“Locker Nine” Re-Supply Point
Then, there’s Franklin Horton’s “Locker Nine” approach. His main tip for disaster preparedness is finding a storage unit or units along the way, renting it, and storing needed supplies in it. The odds are that during a disaster, when people are trying to move away from the problem, they won’t be robbing storage lockers. With that, though, you never know. So, because your locker is not under your direct control, you have to consider the possibility your supplies won’t be there when you stop in. Whatever method you use, it’s worth doing to know that you have options when out on your own during hard times. If our world is turned upside down, the supplies you store there could be worth their weight in gold.
5) Stay Informed
One of the most essential but often overlooked tips for disaster preparedness is the importance of staying informed. The more warning you can get before a disaster hits, the better off you’ll be. Because of that, it’s important to make sure that you stay informed about what is happening in the world around you. That doesn’t mean sitting in front of the television all day. It means you should have a daily routine where you check the weather reports, news highlights, and other areas of information. When you do, you’ll set yourself up to know as soon as possible that trouble is coming.
In episode 34 of the podcast, which you can find by going to Mind4Survival.com/34, we discussed ways to stay informed. In that podcast, we talked about using the Internet to stay up on things. Remember, don’t be sucked in by fake, chicken little, the sky is falling, news stories. Not that any news sources on the internet are reliable, but some are better than others. It’s up to you to decide, but I’d be cautious about what courses you put your trust in. An excellent way to verify sources is to look for the same news story from multiple outlets. When you do that, you’ll be able to make a judgment about which is providing you the best information. Also, consider signing up for Google Alerts.
Keeping people informed during a disaster is the domain of ham radio operators all around the globe. Ham radio operators do a fantastic job of spreading the news and keeping tabs on things. It’s good to learn how to operate a ham radio. Even if you don’t obtain your ham license, understanding how they work when disaster strikes may be hugely beneficial.
Now, another radio people can use is the standard, old-school radio. Well, relatively old school. Radios such as the American Red Cross Emergency Weather Radio may be just what you need to stay informed. They are worth considering when you are packing your bug-out bags.
With today’s smart phone’s you can stay in touch with developing situations easier than ever. One way to do that is by emergency alerts offered through ready.gov. If you haven’t checked out ready.gov yet, you should take a look and see if it’s a tool you’d like to use. Regardless of the provider, a simple Google search will provide you with many early warning options to try out.
6) Consider Special Needs
Whether you’re bugging in or bugging out, you’ll want to make sure you address special needs. Some of the special needs you may want to think about when planning is the needs of the sick, old, young, and your pets. All of these considerations have a chance of impacting your ability to respond in a timely and issue-free manner.
If you’re staying home, you want to consider the needs of your loved ones. Getting ahead on their medications is essential. If you’re going to bug out, you’ll need to pack their medications. Maybe instead of an illness, they have an injury. Will you have to bug out with someone on crutches? If you do, how are you going to do it? What other plans will you need to make to help Hop Along out?
Old and Young
At home, it’s far easier to meet the needs of younger and older loved ones. The very young and the very old are limited in the speed and distance they can travel on foot. Additionally, they are a lot less stable on their feet and, due to reduced strength, may not be able to assist as much as they’d like.
Okay, sure, we all know the deal. While pets are often family members, they are still, at the end of the day, a pet. As such, they usually have a lower position on the order of merit list for whose life you’ll save first. Stock up for them at home as you can. For bugging out, you’ll want to consider some things food, water, quietness, etc. After all the last thing, you need a dog that draws attention during the apocalypse.
The most important of all the tips for disaster preparedness is to train.
You’ve heard me, my guests, and probably every other podcast host says, “practice with your gear and train.” If you don’t train and practice, you’re one easy Murphy surprise away from potential failure. That’s the last thing any of us should want.
However, how do you avoid Murphy? You avoid him by training and understanding the limits and capabilities of yourself, your gear, and anything you can think of. Is it easy? No, it’s not. Is it a pain in the butt? Yes, it is. But, it’s better to experience pain in training now, when you can recover from it, than having it happen when the whole world is on fire. So, remember, practice makes you nearly perfect, so let’s get started practicing!
The Bottom Line on Tips for Disaster Preparedness
Saving your own life and the lives of the people you love when a crisis strikes nearly always boils down to the things you did before the emergency. Therefore these top 7 tips for disaster preparedness all focus on the prepping aspect of it, not so much on the disaster aspect. The work you do beforehand is the work that will save you.
Stay safe, secure, and prepared,