Preparedness Pays: It’s So Time Consuming — NOT

Today’s is a bit short, but the other major excuse given to avoid taking steps to be prepared is the whine “It takes so much time!” Not really.

As with cost, you can spend as much time on it as you can money. How much time (and money) is up to you, but the way to avoid having to spend large amounts of time is to incorporate preparedness into your everyday life.

Preparedness is in many respects a compounding investment. Five minutes here and there adds up. Those who have to spend hours are usually those who are responding to an impending disaster of some sort for which they are unprepared. The little things that you can do in everyday life keep any such expenditure of time down to the minimum possible.

Some of it are things you should be doing already: basic house, vehicle, and other maintenance; computer backups; rotating the stock in your pantry as you buy new; and, improvements to your home, vehicle, equipment, etc. It’s putting expiration dates into the calendar on your phone; reminders to change batteries in smoke and other detectors; and other notes as needed. This also helps if you are, like me, a touch absentminded…

Again, it’s all in the planning and making preparedness a part of your lifestyle, not something you only do when absolutely needed. If you are creatively lazy, and make the most of the things you already have (such as smart phones and other devices), you don’t have to spend huge amounts of time on being prepared.

The Series In Order:

Preparedness Pays

Preparedness Pays: Diet Versus Lifestyle

Preparedness Pays: For Crying Out Loud!!!

Preparedness Pays: Expensive? No.

Preparedness Pays: It’s So Time Consuming — NOT

Preparedness Pays: Expensive? No.

Far too many people (and companies) put off preparedness on the basis that it costs too much. That idea is 180 degrees off from the way you should be looking at it.

Instead, you need to be asking yourself what is the cost of not being prepared? An acquaintance has joked in the past that it depends on how fancy a casket you want for your funeral. As harsh as it may seem, the cost of not being prepared could literally be your life, and the lives of those you love.

What is the cost to you or your business if your computer/computer systems go down and you have not made backups? What is the cost to you if the power/water/etc. go out, even for a few hours, when you have to get to work and to miss work is to miss a day’s pay or even lose your job? What is the cost to you if you are stranded on the side of the road for hours, and don’t get a choice of where your vehicle is repaired? If a large disaster hits, what is the cost of not being prepared?

The costs of not being prepared are far higher than the cost of being prepared, especially if you make it a part of your day-to-day life. If you wait until a disaster looms, you will find critical items in short supply, or gone, and prices going up. That is truly expensive, and sadly what most people mistakenly use as the cost of preparedness.

Keep in mind that being prepared not only protects from the large disasters, but the small as well. If an ice storm or other event takes out the power, you may be mildly inconvenienced, but can press on with life. Water goes out, the same. Can’t get out of the house or neighborhood? You already have plenty of food, water, and the necessities of life on hand. Being prepared has a price, but it is also an investment that can pay huge dividends with events large and small.

Building up stocks of the things you use day-to-day can be done gradually. You don’t have to go out and buy everything at once. Buy one or two stock items each paycheck, and take full advantage of two-for-one and other offers. It literally is as simple as buying two bars of soap instead of one.

Also, know when to buy larger items. For example, heaters usually can be obtained for a better price in the summer. A generator (one of the few big-ticket items on my list) seem to have better prices in the spring/summer, and when the weather is good. Winter and/or when storms are coming the prices tend to go up. While not an item on my list, it is far cheaper to buy a snowblower in the summer, though your best bet is the spring when people who panic-bought one the fall before often sell them off for ridiculously low prices. If you buy used via local want ads and such, you can get new/almost new items for a fraction of the cost of the actual new item.

The real key to keeping the expense down is to plan. Your plan should analyze what you need for each of the three major categories (people, places, things), then look into the details for each of the three sub-categories for each. If you have a family, make it a family affair. In all your planning, don’t forget any pets!

One part of planning is to look at the longest possible duration of a major disaster. For example, if you live in an area subject to hurricanes, look at the longest time people in the area have gone without power, water, etc. Add a few days to it to be safe, and you have a good idea of the reserves you will need.

Personally, I plan for a month. If that’s too much for you, plan for two weeks. If that’s still too much, plan for one. Once you start building up your supplies, you can then expand them as finances and space permit. Yes, I do have plans for longer than a month, but those are advanced plans for later discussion. For most day-to-day preparation, I use a month.

Once you have a plan, work up a priorities list for what you need. This allows you to save up what you need for any major expenses, and to start buying those extra things each week so you can build up your reserves for critical items and then move to the nice-to-haves. You do want to have those nice-to-haves: survival is great; but, surviving disaster large and small with comfort and ease is the way to go.

Keep in mind that many items may be able to do double or even triple duty. For example, if you camp, you already have an emergency shelter that can be set up inside or outside. Backpacks can be kept ready as bug-out bags. Camp stoves provide a means to heat water and cook food. Your grill also is a back-up stove at need. You just need to be sure to have sufficient fuel to meet the needs of the situation. Depending on your hobbies and where you live, you may already have a good bit of preparation already in place.

To wrap up for today: the cost of not preparing is high, potentially astronomically high; the cost of waiting until the last minute is also extremely high and likely to leave you without critical items; and, the cost of preparing and buying things along can be done within almost any budget. Do not let cost keep you from getting started.

The Rest Of The Series In Order:

Preparedness Pays

Preparedness Pays: Diet Versus Lifestyle

Preparedness Pays: For Crying Out Loud!!!

Preparedness Pays: Expensive? No.

Preparedness Pays: It’s So Time Consuming — NOT

Preparedness Pays: For Crying Out Loud!!!

Here we go again. The Panic Porn Media (aka the MSM) is at it again, and once again, people are rushing to the store and buying up all the toilet paper they can get. With all that was bought in the previous panic, people should have a two-year (or more) supply at this point.

There are several problems with such panic buying. First, you are more than likely to be hoarding the wrong thing for the situation. Second, you are wasting your money, which impacts your financial preparedness. Third, you are taking up space that could be better used for stocking up on the things you really are going to need. There are more, but those get the ball rolling.

If you practice practical preparedness, you probably already have a weeks/months supply on hand. Buying ahead allows you to take full advantage of sales or buying bulk to get the best price (on TP or any other item). It means you don’t have to race to the store to get more in response to storms or panic porn.

This really is in a chapter further into the book, but part of what you should be doing is taking a look at the things you use every day, evaluating how much of each you go through in a week/month, and deciding what time period works best for you and buying enough to get through that. Then, as you use those items, you buy more and rotate your stock like grocery stores used to do (sadly, many don’t and if you’re buying yoghurt from the back of the shelf, check the expiration date then and not later).

The time period you choose may vary by product. For example, I am working on building up my supply of supplements and OTC meds so that I have a year’s worth on hand. That way, if there is a natural disaster, a financial disaster, or other impact, I’m good no matter what. Coffee, I have at least three months on hand at any given time. Again, more on this later.

Meantime, if you are one of those panicking, please stop. If you truly are using that much TP, call your doctor.

This does remind me of the time a friend of mine looked at joining a preparedness group. There are good reasons to do so, be it a group of friends you create or one that already exists. Again, more on this later. One of the groups he talked to sort of went off as he didn’t have the amounts of ammunition in different calibers that they wanted. My friend let them rant a bit, then responded (as close as I can remember):

‘You’re right. I don’t have all the ammunition and weapons that you do. However, I’ve got a year’s supply of toilet paper, and more than enough weapons and ammunition to deal with anyone who tries to take that and the other supplies I’ve got. And you’re going to have an awful hard time wiping your asses with those bullets.’

A few days later they called up, said he had a point, and would he like to join them? He declined. Wisely IMO.

Practical preparedness: saving you money, time, and being able to ride out the idiocy of lemmings without stress or discomfort.

The Rest Of The Series In Order:

Preparedness Pays

Preparedness Pays: Diet Versus Lifestyle

Preparedness Pays: For Crying Out Loud!!!

Preparedness Pays: Expensive? No.

Preparedness Pays: It’s So Time Consuming — NOT

Preparedness Pays: Diet Versus Lifestyle

Diets don’t work. At least, as practiced by most, studies have shown they don’t have a lasting impact. Most people start a diet, or join a gym, for a specific near-term goal. If you’ve ever been a gym regular, you know the cycle and see all the new people coming in at specific times of the year to get in shape for spring break, summer vacations, swimsuit season, etc. Even those starting a diet with the idea of “getting healthy” don’t stay with it.

Why?

Well, a diet is not a part of the normal lifestyle for most people. It usually involves foods, times, and other delights that are not normal for them.

What makes a diet successful? When it becomes a part of normal life, not something extreme for a particular goal. In my own case, I went ketogenic a few years back, not as a diet, but as part of a conscious change of my entire lifestyle. It was not something just to meet a short term goal, but a decision to change what I ate, how I exercised, and other factors to both get in shape and to promote long-term health. As such, it has left me in far better shape than I was.

For most people, preparedness is a “diet” in that it is usually for a near-term, short time-frame event. As such, it is expensive, time consuming, and in many cases not terribly effective because there was no real planning. Think about all the people you see in the stores when a snowstorm (or similar) is predicted (especially in the South): people who normally don’t buy bread or milk are in there stocking up. My thought is that instead you should be buying meat, bourbon (or alcohol of your choice), and whatever you need to fire up your grill when the snow stops. Also, buy propane or whatever you need to cook inside if the power goes out.

It also doesn’t help that mainstream media portrays those who have preparedness as a lifestyle as illiterate rednecks preparing to stand off the government. Do such people exist? Yes. Are they representative of the larger preparedness community? No. Hell No. For all that I love the characters of Burt and Heather Gummer (portrayed by Michael Gross and Reba McEntire) in Tremors, and laugh my rear end off at them, it may be the kindest portrayal of “Preppers” out there. There are many others not so kind. This ignorant and bigoted portrayal is used to manipulate people into not preparing via social pressure.

So, you have two factors that keep most people from recognizing that making preparedness a part of your lifestyle saves you time, money, and more in dealing with everyday life, much less disasters. Want some quick examples?

Someone I know related the tale of being in a fair-sized building when the power went out and everyone was ordered to evacuate the building. The emergency lights apparently were not working, so people were having to go down the stairs in the dark. That is, they were until he pulled a bright tac light he routinely carried in a pocket and used it to illuminate a good bit of the stairwell.

Another person I knew suffered a blown coolant hose on the interstate. In the trunk, he had tape, hose clamps, and a collapsable water jug. A temporary patch of the hose was made using tape and clamps, and the water jug went down to a nearby creek and supplied the water to refill the system so that they could limp to the nearest exit where they could replace the hose and coolant.

I know at least two people who keep a trauma kit in their car, and have used it at wrecks they’ve either witnessed or come upon while traveling. One or both have literally saved lives as it takes time for medics to arrive, and if someone is bleeding out, time is one thing they don’t have to spare. Even if not saving lives, it improved the outcomes for those injured in the wreck.

A few months ago, the power went out to our neighborhood. Lights out, electric stove useless, water limited because the house was on a well. One very bright flashlight, a butane chef’s stove, and both bottled and jugged water allowed me to make coffee, cook breakfast, and bathe so that I stayed on my normal schedule.

What do all these things have in common? Lives, potentially expensive events, and even day-to-day problems were solved by people who have made preparedness a part of their lifestyle, not just something they do when disaster looms or is hitting. In the case of the person on the interstate, being prepared prevented damage to their vehicle, and the expense of being towed and having to have the repair made at a place not of their choice. It allowed me to have my coffee (top priority), eat, and not be late for or miss work.

Making preparedness a part of your lifestyle not only prepares you from disasters, it also insulates you from any number of annoyances and potentially expensive events in day-to-day life. Water leak? You have the tools and means to stop or slow, and to prevent water damage to your home. Electricity goes out? You have lights, means to cook and wash, and otherwise go about your business.

Most of the truly essential items for preparedness can and do double or even triple duty as they have day-to-day uses. For example, the chef’s stove I used provides an extra burner for holiday cooking, and I’ve used it to cook at special events and even for some of the wolves at Wolf Park. It is not something that just sits taking up space, it is used as a part of my normal life. Same for the flashlight, my pocket knife, and a number of other items. I’ve even converted my first aid/trauma pouch from Iraq into something I carry with me on the job given the amount of travel and the likelihood of coming upon a wreck. I’ll have more on this concept later, as it is important.

The more you integrate preparedness into your lifestyle, the more you are insulated from, or able to deal promptly, with the “downs” and emergencies of everyday life. It can reduce or eliminate the expenses associated with them, as well as saving you time, hassle, and stress.

Got a story about how being prepared worked for you in a non-disaster situation? Please share it in the comments, as the more the merrier. In fact, I may ask you for permission to use it in the book. The more such stories that can be shared, the better for fighting back against media stereotypes and showing people how preparedness can help them.

The Rest Of The Series In Order:

Preparedness Pays

Preparedness Pays: Diet Versus Lifestyle

Preparedness Pays: For Crying Out Loud!!!

Preparedness Pays: Expensive? No.

Preparedness Pays: It’s So Time Consuming — NOT

Preparedness Pays

The title to this post is the working title of a book in progress. It was started many years ago, and sadly got put aside for longer than it should have been. Yet, some of that time has been to the good as I’ve been through FEMA and other courses and earned my Basic Military Emergency Management System badge during my time in the Indiana Guard Reserve (state guard). That, and a lot more practical experience, should allow it to be an even better book.

This post is the start of a series of posts on preparedness that I hope will share good information for you, as well as invite feedback and otherwise allow me to refine elements of the book. Just as courses and experience have refined and changed the original outline of the book, feedback and even discussions here or on social media will allow me to improve sections and ideas and ensure that the key points are as well presented as possible.

The original outline was based in part on an article I wrote for a major publication (the first and last time I ever signed an all-rights contract, and a lesson on reading the contract very carefully and fully). In that article, I pointed out that there were indeed an almost infinite number of disasters that can occur. Many individuals and companies use that as an excuse not to comprehensively plan for disasters and other emergencies including economic and other problems.

In the article, I pointed out the cost/benefit analysis needed for such planning, and that one did NOT try to plan for the infinite number of disasters, but rather the five types of damage that could occur from any given disaster. Preparing for five types of damage is much easier, and less expensive.

Since that time, I’ve refined that down even further. Technically, there are only three things that can be impacted by any disaster, from a hurricane to an economic depression: People, Infrastructure, and Resources. Each of these further breaks down into three main areas.

People involved in a disaster face financial, physical, and resource impacts. Financial can be anything from loss of investments to loss of income, or even in extreme cases having currency devalued or worthless. Physical means some degree of damage to the body. Resources means a loss of non-financial resources, such as food, water, electricity, etc.

Infrastructure damage breaks down into structures, equipment, and logistics. A couple of these have some overlap, as having a flood or other disaster taking out a highway could be viewed as both structural and logistics. For now, I’m putting it as a logistical problem, but good arguments can be made for either keeping it both or putting it in structures. Currently, I’m treating structures primarily as buildings and related, though bridges and other structures could go either way. Equipment is just that, the machines that we use every day from computers to manufacturing equipment. Logistics is the warehousing, transportation, and distribution of the products we use every day. I will note here that maintenance of structures, equipment, and the means of logistics must be a part of planning.

Resources is broken down into consumables, energy, and financial. Consumables are the products we need and use every day, from food to cleaning products. Water is in the consumable category for now. Energy is not just the electricity that powers our life, but also gasoline and other products that allow us to live, work, and be mobile. Financial is the ability to buy, barter, save, and even property value.

To close for today, consider that planning for Infrastructure and Resources reduces the chance of damage to People in every area. Investment there can and will pay dividends in the event of any emergency.

Tomorrow I want to go into why preparedness should be a lifestyle, rather than a thing one does only when disaster looms.

The Rest Of The Series In Order:

Preparedness Pays: Diet Versus Lifestyle

Preparedness Pays: For Crying Out Loud!!!

Preparedness Pays: Expensive? No.

Preparedness Pays: It’s So Time Consuming — NOT