Dave Robinson: Principles of disaster prep

Call them core values, immutable truths or life rules; I feel one must form his or her own personal “prepper philosophy.” The following 10 principles I’ve developed are a work in progress. I hope they can guide you to find some structure in you’re own planning. Here they are:

1. Prepare before the disaster happens. I am always mildly amused and somewhat bewildered by those who run to the store either at the last minute or after the fact. That’s a bit like having a fender bender, then calling your insurance agent to buy some coverage. In my observations of situations like Katrina and Sandy, I see people who had plenty of advance warning still getting caught empty-handed. The chaos, frustration and desperation that characterize the unprepared can all be avoided by simply planning ahead. Your family is worth it. A biblical proverb says, “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes on blindly and suffers the consequences.” (Proverbs 22:3, New Living Translation) Plan ahead.

2. Avoid ready-made kits. There are literally thousands of them available for purchase. Almost every disaster preparedness blog has a kit for sale. I think some of them are pretty well thought out and actually very cool. However, there is a certain satisfaction in building your own, choosing quality components and actually designing the kit for your particular needs in your specific neighborhood. The person who lives miles out in the hills will have different needs than the person who lives in town. Some families have babies, and their kit will require diapers and anti-rash ointment. Others will have “seasoned citizens” in the household, and their needs are unique to their circumstance. Check out the ready-mades for ideas on what you might need, but make your own list, then fill it to your satisfaction.

3. Have a plan “B” and a plan “C.” Every experienced battle commander knows his plan is perfect until the shooting starts. Most strategies begin to unravel as they’re put to the test. This is a huge flaw I see in the National Geographic Channel’s “Doomsday Preppers.” Every featured group prepares for a specific disaster scenario. Just imagine how disappointed they’d be if they prepared for a nuclear attack and were hit with a coronal mass ejection (solar storm) instead. Of course, if you live in hurricane country, then plan for a hurricane. But, have two or more different evacuation routes. Prepare two or more retreat locations, just in case. If you live along the Oregon coast, plan for an earthquake-tsunami episode, but always have a plan B. Your first escape route may be blocked with debris or a bridge may be impassable. Make alternate plans. In the valley, devise gathering places for different scenarios — at work or school, home at night, out of town, etc.

4. There is value in redundancy. An old joke among government employees is that somewhere deep in the bureaucracy swamp known as Washington, there is an agency known as the Department of Redundancy Department. This principle sounds a bit like No. 3, “Always Have A Plan B,” but if you only have one way of purifying water, then two ways are even better. If you have one case of toilet paper, two are better. The more you have stored, the more you have available for barter or charity. Equally important are the qualities of versatility and flexibility. Disasters don’t follow a rigid design, so it’s best if you formulate your plan with a certain adaptability factor as well.

5. Don’t make preparations out of fear. Several months ago, we held a class at our church on disaster preparedness. There were about 25 people in attendance. We discussed some of the reasons for prepping, including the possibility of a mega-earthquake. After the class, one of the attendees went home, gathered her children and pitched a tent in the middle of a field in fear of an earthquake destroying her house. Not exactly what we had in mind. I carry a spare tire in my car, not out of fear of a flat tire, but just in case. I have Band-Aids in my wallet, just in case. The story is told of an 80-year-old woman confronted by police. It was found she had two handguns in her purse, one in her glovebox and a shotgun under the seat. The officer asked, “Ma’am, just what is it you are afraid of?”Her reply, “Nothing!” When you lay in extra stores, do so with the posture of “just in case.” Not because you’re afraid of what might happen.

6. Beware of “Style Over Substance!” Politicians are fond of making laws, usually with great pomp, that are long on publicity and short on actual effectiveness. We all know of products that don’t live up to their billing. Not everything labelled “Survival” will be of benefit when actually put to the test. I am convinced that much so-called “survival” gear was designed by the P.T. Barnum School of Marketing. You’ll recall his motto, I’m sure: “There’s a sucker born every minute!” When making a purchase for your preparations, do your research and think it through. First, ask yourself if you know how to use it. Then try to determine the probability of necessity if there is a disaster. Make smart, well informed purchases before you invest. It’s not only your money at stake, your life may depend on this thing. Next week we’ll continue with my Ten Basic Principles.

7. Develop useful skills. Learn to cook without relying on prepared, pre-packaged, “high in everything that’s bad for you” fare. Practice getting by without a daily trip to the grocery store. Learn to fix things without calling a professional or buying new. I remember my dad building the most ingenious gate latches or other gizmos out of what he had on hand. The lessons learned in the Great Depression years stayed with him all his life. The “make do” philosophy served our family well.

8. Get first aid training. Similar to No. 7 above, but so vital, it deserves its own category. Take a class in first aid. Build skills that will be invaluable if there are injuries in your neighborhood. Assemble a first aid kit that includes such things as a suture kit, blood pressure cuff and inflatable splints. Take a local class that teaches cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Learn about triage and why hard decisions have to be made in times of disaster. When the time comes, you will be an asset rather than a liability. YouTube videos can be a great source of information. For example, if you need to learn to use that suture kit, there are YouTube videos covering the topic. Also check out the Patriot Nurse, a straight-talking prepper who pulls no punches when it comes to medical readiness.

9. Build relationships with your neighbors. Mapping Your Neighborhood is a program which gets you acquainted with your real first responders. When disasters strike, the police, fire and emergency medical responders are all going to have their hands full with someone else’s emergency. Having an inventory of your neighborhood skills is vitally important when it comes to response on a down home level. It is imperative you know who in your neighborhood may need your help and who has the skills to contribute to the business of survival. Are any of your neighbors elderly and may need assistance? How about propane tanks or natural gas shut-offs? All these questions are covered when neighbors get together and inventory their assets.

10. Spiritual preparedness. I may have saved the most important for last. Your core values and belief system will always be your primary line of defense, and will be the first point of challenge in an emergency. How you are guided by your beliefs and values will dictate how well you respond and whether or not you will be successful. Time after time, survivors interviewed after a disaster proclaim their strength to survive came from their faith. Will you be a source of strength and stability for others or will you be yet another basket case demanding attention? 



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