Two simple words. Yet, words that can and have had tremendous impact on myself and others. I came to embrace them as a Boy Scout, and have found over the years that preparedness always, always pays.
The media likes to portray all who prepare as poorly educated nuts preparing to fight off the government. Yes, there are nuts just like that, but most who prepare are simply being prudent. Keep in mind that almost every household has at least some, occasionally small, start at preparedness.
We keep bandaids just in case. Preparedness. We have batteries for toys and more serious things. Preparedness. Some of us have multiple lighters, and even matches, in case we need to light a cigar or a candle. Preparedness. Most households have cans of food in the pantry and things to eat in the refrigerator that can feed us for several days. Preparedness.
The degree of preparedness taken is up to the individual. Given where I live, I tend to keep 3-5 days of food, water, medicines, and basic supplies simply because we get ice, snow, tornadoes and damaging winds, and even the occasional (small, thankfully) earthquake over the course of a year. In short, there are things that can happen that could trap me in my home for a day or three. If so, I have what I need to survive in style.
If there is something else happening — civil unrest, terrorist attack, epidemic, major earthquake — I have the means to quickly up my level of preparedness. I can and will fill emergency containers with water while it lasts. I have several tanks of propane for the grill (actually my landlord’s grill), burner (closest I can find to what I have), and smoker, and they provide one means of cooking food at need. Another is a portable chef’s stove (note: link similar to mine) I’ve used for years at events, for which I keep a reserve of butane.
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Note something with the above. These are all things that I use on a regular basis. They are things many people have. Preparedness isn’t about getting things you never use except in an emergency, at it’s core it’s about making the most of what you already have or are likely to get to improve your life. Yes, there are some things that you may not use except in an emergency, but most have everyday uses.
A good example, and an good example of preparedness paying comes from collapsable water containers. This one is great for camping or backpacking; this one for camping; this one is very good for emergencies (and this one is double the use) but may have other uses. Don’t backpack or camp? Keep one in the car.
Why keep one in the car? A number of years ago, some people I knew had a hose rupture on their car as they were on a remote section of interstate. Using materials they had on hand for an emergency, they fashioned a patch for the hose that would hold until they could reach an exit where they could replace the hose. They then took a collapsable water container down to a nearby creek and filled it up. With that, they refilled the radiator so that they could drive the car. The state trooper who stopped to check on them just as they were finishing up was shocked and pleased with what they had done.
Note also that they avoided being stranded for hours or longer, avoided a major towing bill, avoided having to be towed to a mechanic they did not know and had no choice about, and avoided their car being further damaged by unsafe operation. They were, for about $20 worth of preparation, able to safely drive to a location where they could safely obtain a new hose and put it on/have it put on with only relatively minor inconvenience.
Does the fact that there is an almost infinite list of disasters keep you from preparing? If so, take heart. While the list of potential disasters is indeed almost infinite, the list of types of damage boils down to a total of three: People, Places, Things.
In the days ahead, we are going to explore these topics. My goal is to introduce you to practical preparedness and help you disaster-proof your life as much as possible.