Some people may wonder why I talk so much about preparedness. Some folks may also wonder why I think preparedness is so important. There are a few that may wonder why I dedicate so much time and effort to this website, and writing preparedness novels.
Remember, the website is free to all and the novels I’ve written haven’t even come close to being commercially viable. That’s a nice way to say it comes out to about a penny an hour I am making off my books so far.
So why do I do it? For me it is simple…I care.
I care about what happens to my family, and my community. I care about you, your family, your community and anyone else willing to open their eyes to see how fragile our way of life is right now. But there is also a very practical side to my preparedness preaching…life’s trials will happen to us all and some point in our life, so we better be prepared for them.
Yup, that means at some point in everyone’s life, they will need to be prepared to deal with unpleasant situations. Or, the situation, the “trial” if you will, will completely run them over. I don’t want that to happen to people. Well, at least I don’t want it to happen to those folks that I care about. And I care about you and your family.
F. Michael Maloof in an article called “One catastrophe could take U.S. down, expert warns” talks about there being 15 key elements to our supply chain in the US. He makes the point that if a single one of those key elements is adversely impacted we are done as a country. And you wanna know how much emergency food supply there is via relief agencies? Approximately two meals for 1% of the entire population. That means 3.2 million eat for less than a day while 318,000,000 will starve within two weeks. The original 1% will starve a day later.
So what are these “trials” I referred to earlier?
The “trials” breakdown into three basic categories; emergencies, disasters, and the dreaded “grid-down” event.
I have been in emergency services for almost my entire adult working life (30 years +/-). I have been on fatal traffic accidents, house fires, huge wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and so much more. I have seen firsthand the difference between people that are prepared and those that aren’t. Trust me, it is better to be prepared.
But you know that, or you wouldn’t be reading this article on this website.
So back to the basic “categories” of bad events in a person’s life…my experience tells me there are three basic categories of events to prepare for:
- Vehicle Accident
- Heart Attack
- Job Loss/Retirement
- Utility Outage
- House Fire
Yes, you can add more to the list for each category. You may even want to move a few around from how I have them arranged. That’s OK, at least you are thinking about categorization.
I frequent a website that is a combination of preparedness topics, religious issues, and some of the strangest conspiracy and other articles that you can imagine. There are well over 10k paid members to that website. A very profitable commercial endeavor I am sure. A couple of days ago a well intentioned website member posted an article that he thought was just a great article full of valuable information. Topic? “G.O.O.D Bag” contents.
So, being a person that always wants to learn something new, I followed the link and brought up the article. I began to read the list of recommended items and wow! What a moron!
Now, in the article’s author defense I don’t think they had a shred of professional preparedness experience in their entire life. And the list was probably just this long regurgitation of other lists that they may had found and then combined. They were thinking, “Purpose: Bag to take if you only had 10 or 30 minutes before needing to leave your home.”
The problem was…you would have to have a large truck pulling a large trailer that took 12 people to load within the designated “10 to 30 minutes.” And that is a pretty big problem; like life and death difference kind of problem.
Why am I being so critical? They are giving out advice that is 100% impractical and potentially fatal.
I go back to the training I took in mid-September; Surviving Deadly Contact with Kelly Alwood. < read more – click here > In that class Kelly made a great statement that was full of practical advice:
“If you want to learn to be a gunfighter, learn from a person who has been in a gunfight.”
Well, doesn’t that make all the sense in the world?
If you want to be prepared for life’s catastrophic events learn from someone who has “been there and done that.” Yes, that means someone who has successfully survived life’s catastrophic events. And more importantly, a person that understands the principles behind successful preparedness.
So back to my “categories of catastrophe.” Do they make sense to you to categorize them that way?
Let me throw on the next layer…progressive impact.
As you look at each category of catastrophe you can see how they grow larger in terms of scope of impact. “Emergencies” for the most part affect only a single person or a family, potentially a neighborhood, etc. But it is fairly limited in scope.
As you move to “disaster,” and especially at the “grid-down” level, those catastrophic events are now affecting people over large areas. And in the case of “grid-down” it could/would be affecting potentially the entire world; at least some of the variations of such an event.
The “G.O.O.D Bag” mentioned in the article I was criticizing had a huge list of items including 10gals of fuel. Yeah, try to get that into your “G.O.O.D Bag” and see how that works out for you. But, I am sure the person was talking about the fuel being included for, and carried in, your vehicle. But, carried where exactly? And then there was this long list of personal documents they wanted you to include. What !?!
If the situation is bad enough that I am grabbing a true “G.O.O.D. Bag” I am not going to worry about my passport, insurance papers, or my marriage license being in a Ziplock bag stowed away in my pack. I am going to have only those essentials required to…
And there is the point. What is a “G.O.O.D. Bag” for? What’s its mission? Why have a “G.O.O.D. Bag” at all?
Here is the mission I have for my “GOOD BOB” :
Sustain life as long as possible.
Now, based on the “mission” would I include my passport, insurance papers, or my marriage license in that list?
Why? Because those things do not support the mission of my GOOD BOB (Get Out Of Dodge – Bug Out Bag/Box).
All that being said, would there be a time when I want my passport, insurance papers, or my marriage license? Yes, of course. And that would be more along the lines of an emergency and probably a disaster. But those items would also be more related to a “72/96-Hour Kit” rather than any GOOD BOB. And there is an important aspect to all of this, know what you are preparing for, then define the mission for your gear and equipment. < click here to read about 72/96 hour kits >
But about now is the time to introduce another preparedness principle – escalation of preparation.
If you look back at the catastrophe categories you can recognize that they build, or escalate, in severity of impact. I mentioned earlier that those events go from affecting a single person/family to potentially the entire world. But the worst of the events, “grid-down”, will affect everyone no matter what.
So whatever you do to prepare for the lower level catastrophe category items will also apply to the larger and more catastrophic events. Example: We buy and store #10 cans of freeze-dried sausage crumbles and biscuit mix. We have been doing this for 7 or 8 years now. Why? My wife and I like sausage gravy and biscuits, its delicious! Buying the ingredients now helps us to prepare financially for retirement. Yup, we won’t have to buy the sausage and biscuit ingredients out of our retirement savings. That is preparing for an “emergency.”
And yes, I see retirement as an emergency. Based on the fact that about 85 – 90% of US citizens are not properly financially prepared for retirement…yeah, I consider it a potential emergency.
Now, if a “disaster” strikes and takes out the utility grid for a month we will be fine eating sausage gravy and biscuits. Maybe even sharing with our family and friends so they don’t get hungry as well.
And, if we are still around when “grid-down” hits…well, do think we will appreciate the supply of freeze-dried sausage crumbles and biscuit mix then?
Each level of catastrophic events builds on each getting progressively worse. Your preparedness should build on that same progressively worse concept as well. I call that “escalation of preparation.” Each higher level preparedness item supports all lower levels of preparedness for the lower level catastrophes.
I hope that all made sense to you. But, you may be wondering right about now…”So what are the priorities when preparing for these catastrophic events?”
The priorities are always the same, always.
There is a wide variety, almost an endless list, of emergencies, disasters and grid-down possibilities. But amazingly, they all fundamentally present virtually the same threats in the same priority order:
- Lack of, or Poor, Communication
- Lack of, or Poor, Organization
- Hyper/Hypothermia (shelter)
Failure to properly mitigate these threats/risks in the proper order will result in failure. And failure will not be pleasant, usually fatal or near-fatal results.
Why in that particular order? The order is based on the “fatality factor.” What can kill you, or your family, the quickest.
You mitigate those threats/risks by having the ability to:
- Defend yourself, family and community.
- Provide medical care.
- Use non-standard communications.
- Use ICS (Incident Command System)
- Produce, filter and purify water.
- Provide basic shelter.
- Provide initial food supply and grow more.
Now that we’ve identified the common catastrophic event “threats & risks” we can learn the system and principles of being able to make decisions based on mitigating those threats. There is a priority setting methodology out there that is universal to planned events and emergency/disaster/gird-down incidents, L.I.P.S. And if properly used and applied L.I.P.S. will never ever let you down or lead you astray.
Life Safety : The #1 priority during any incident or event is life safety; protecting people from death or injury. In that order.
Incident Stabilization : Don’t make an incident worse than it already is. The problem is already bad, something has gone wrong; don’t do things that will make it worse.
Property Conservation : Don’t destroy anything you don’t have to. During an incident don’t damage or destroy any resource (or potential resource) you don’t have to, you might need it later.
Societal Restoration : That’s a mouthful but you just want to put everything back the way it was (preferably better) before the disaster or emergency occurred. The concept is to restore your daily life to the original, or better, condition as soon as it is reasonable to do so.
This all comes into play when you look at yet another preparedness principle – immediacy of warning.
Simply put, how much warning to you get of an approaching catastrophic event.
As catastrophic events escalate in scope they generally tend to give you more warning vs. affecting you immediately.
Example #1: Vehicle accidents are usually sudden and unpredictable. But, a financial collapse is happening even as we speak, just slowly, and the true affects may take weeks, months, or years before they directly impact you.
Example #2: You can wake up one morning during flu season and you just know that you are going to have a rough week with a bad case of the flu. However, a pandemic will probably start somewhere other than your neighborhood. So you would have some advance notice, days to weeks, of it occurring and heading your way.
This “immediacy” principle helps you to understand what to prepare for first. Using the L.I.P.S. priority setting and decision making system makes it easy when factoring in the common threats of violence, sickness/injury, communication, organization, dehydration, shelter, and starvation. You simply mitigate the most immediate threats first.
Example #1: You can die from a bleeding wound far faster that you will starve to death. So you put together an individual first aid kit before you store a year’s worth of food. < read more about an IFAK – Individual First Aid Kit >
Example #2: A bad guy can injure or kill you and your family far faster than you will die of dehydration. So you acquire the means of defending yourself before you have a water supply and a fancy water filter system.
Now is the time for me to engage you with yet another preparedness principle for this article – modularity.
We’ve talked about categories of catastrophes and the immediacy of how soon those events will affect you. The more catastrophic the event and the sooner it will affect you demands that you mitigate it first. And I mentioned that your preparedness efforts must also build upon and support each other.
Example: Your first aid kit that takes care of your “Emergency – Injury” event is also 100% applicable to your “Grid Down – Martial Law” event. You can die just as easily from a wound or injury around the house cutting the grass on a beautiful Saturday afternoon as bleeding out from some bad guy shooting you during martial law after grid-down.
Your grass cutting first aid kit can stop the bleeding till the ambulance arrives to take you to the hospital emergency room. But the gunshot during grid-down is another story. The first aid kit can stop the bleeding, but you better have more medical supplies to actually treat the gunshot. Forceps, suturing material, and antibiotics would be considered essential during grid-down, but not necessarily so during a more commonplace emergency. However, you see how they build upon each other.
Modularity also comes into play when considering and planning the storage of your items. You would have a first aid kit ready to go on your tactical vest. That tacvest helps deal with the immediate threat of a bad guy trying to harm your family. But you wouldn’t have a minor surgical kit hanging off your tacvest would you? The minor surgery kit would be packed and stored in the “grid-down” section of your prep items. < read about the FTCK – Field Trauma Care Kit >
However, you would probably have a Family/Team Basic Aid Kit (TBAK) readily available. < read more about the TBAK – Family/Team Basic Aid Kit > That kit handles more advanced injuries than your IFAKs. You still would have each person’s first aid kit, but the TBAK also goes during a grid-down. If you had to do a true bug-out and were able to do so with your vehicle, you would then take the minor surgical kit as well as the IFAKs and the TBAK. And you would take all of those medical kits before you took (or even thought about) that fancy camping sink and cook table set-up.
I will be writing an entire article specifically on “modularity” and “layers” in the coming weeks. But for now, just think of storing your preparedness items in modules based on the catastrophic categories. That means NOT grouping your prep items together based on similarity of the items.
Example: Do NOT pack all of your winter coats in one box, all of your winter boots in another box, wool socks in another, and all of your thermal underwear in yet another box. What happens if you only have time to take a single box? Wouldn’t it make far more sense to pack a winter coat, a set of thermal underwear, a pair of wool socks, and a pair of winter boots in the same box? No matter which “winter box” you grabbed you had a complete set of everything for cold weather.
Proper Preparedness Principles –
- Events to prepare for are categorized into three basic event types: emergencies, disasters, and grid-down.
- Each piece of gear or equipment must have a specific mission or it is not included in a “list.”
- To learn to be a something, learn from an expert in that field.
- Preparedness events have progressive impact from individuals, to communities, to countries, and the world.
- Escalation of preparation requires you to prepare for individuals first, then family, then community, etc. while supporting lower levels of event preparation.
- All catastrophic events have the same common threats and priorities.
- You must properly mitigate each threat in the proper order based on fatality factor.
- Store your prep items in modules.
Related Articles –
- Threats, Risk, Matrix, Mitigation : Part 1
- GOOD – BOB (Get Out Of Dodge – Bug Out Bag)
- TRAP: You think your 72/96-hour pack is light?
- SURVIVING ANY DISASTER: Part 2 – L.I.P.S. (Priority Setting)
- Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK)
- Team/Family Basic Aid Kit (TBAK)
- Field Trauma Care Kit (FTCK)
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