Don’t Panic: Emergency Preparedness
Emergency Preparedness by Richard Bogath
When hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey on the east coast of the United States, I was concerned. Not so concerned for the lives of my family nor the completely expected hardship that would ensue from the lack of services after such a storm, but concerned for my neighbors and friends who many not have been ready to deal with the onslaught of mother nature at her worst.
After all, short of having a tree fall and punch a hole in my roof, I was more than prepared for the events of the storm and the aftermath. Generator fueled up and ready. Plenty of non-perishable foods. Extra building materials in storage like 2×4’s, plywood, cinder blocks and sandbags. Bug-out bag ready to go and a plan to get out either by vehicle or on foot. No problem—we hunkered down and waited it out like everyone else.
Turns out that my concern for others was warranted, as in the middle of the night, a tree punched a human-sized hole in my neighbors roof. Soaking wet, completely terrified and at a loss for what to do, they came over to my house for refuge. As we welcomed the two adults and four children into our home, I realized that not only were they completely unprepared for an emergency, but they were in a state of panic—rendering all judgement base and useless.
Panic Is The Enemy Of Preparedness.
Panic is the enemy of preparedness. It ensues from lack of knowledge, lack of ability, lack of resources and a severe lack of understanding that you must be responsible for your own welfare. Too often to we rely solely on the social and political services that have come to depend on for our wellbeing and the organization of our society. When those services break down it is truly astonishing how fast some of the societal ties that we blindly rely on can unravel at our very doorsteps. How fast did the looting rumors start when the storm was over and all was dark? This is the onset of personal and societal panic.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Sometimes it’s as simple as having a plan. I’ve expounded upon it before in books, blogs, podcasts and other publications, but it holds firm that even the smallest and most loosely organized or plans for dealing with emergency situations work so well at stemming the fear and disorganization that leads to panic.
What Should You Do?
Your plan should be the basic set of rules for your family to safely and quickly come together in an emergency. It should include rules for both escaping your home if necessary and for hunkering down and securing your home if you are going to stay. Part of the plan is that everyone is involved and everyone has a job—including the kids (someone has to crate the dog and find the cat, right?). Practice your plan enough that everyone involved remembers it and can follow it without having questions on the day it is put into effect. The questions all get answered ahead of time.
Everyone’s heard of a “bug-out” bag by now, right? Do you have one? Did you know that it’s not only for bugging out? I have two, actually—one for home use emergencies and one for getting outta Dodge. When everything went dark during Sandy, out came the home bag and aside from the usual characters like the first aid kit, flashlights, etc… out also came some canned snacks and candies for the kids, a hand-crank radio, glow sticks, and preemptive strikes of ibuprofen for the adults. Without going into the exhaustive lists of the bags contents, let’s just say that everything we needed was in that bag, didn’t have to be hunted for, and was at the ready. When the bag came out, everyone gathered around and it became a source of focus for all of us, occupying the kids (coloring books and crayons by glowstick can be fun) and allowing the adults to calm down, focus and let the panic abate. FYI- the go-bag is simply a slightly smaller, more transportable version of this essentials kit.
Where Do You Go?
So let’s say that home is not an option. You’ve got to get up and go as quickly as possible. Your plan has kicked in and everyone is doing their jobs. You’ve all packed into the car/truck/boat and your way is passable… where do you go?
Part of your plan is going to end up with “If-then’s”. IF this has happened, THEN we follow this procedure. The plan ends with the go-to location if you’re high-tailing it out of there. The location (grandma’s house, cousin Pete’s farm, the warehouse you work at, etc…) is in the plan and is appropriate for the kind of disaster you are facing (your beach house would not be appropriate in a coastal hurricane).
Regardless of the circumstances that you find yourself in, keeping calm in danger is never easy and should never be taken lightly regardless of the circumstances. They way you handle an oppressive situation—remaining calm, thinking about your decisions, projecting an air of confidence and understanding is the key in keeping yourself from panic as well as your family. This is not just a directive for the “man of the house”, but for all the adults and the adult children in a household.
If it comes down to it, dealing with direct danger should be avoided at all costs unless absolutely necessary. It’s just not worth it. Defending your family and possessions can be essential, but do not seek out such confrontations based on moral grounds or doing what feels right. If a neighbor has fled and someone breaks into their home for shelter is not a cause for you to become the neighborhood watch in that situation. Better to devote your resources to your own family and their needs.
Learn from the mistakes of others in disasters. Be it mother nature, terrorism, viral outbreaks or just a simple break-in, your choices and level of preparedness is the key to your survival, the survival of those under your care and can serve as an inspiration to others. Most importantly—don’t panic.
Being prepared simply makes good sense.
And if anybody knows how to be prepared – it’s Skip Tanner
If you care about the welfare of your family during chaotic times, you should definitely check out Skip’s Ultimate Survival Library offer by clicking here.