I’ve lived through hurricanes on the East Coast, earthquakes and wildfires in California, tornadoes spawned amid torrential rainfall while I was driving late at night on Route 80 east of Chicago, the Los Angeles area riots sparked by the Rodney King police beating trial, and numerous other life-endangering incidents. I’ve also been through larger-scale dangerous natural events, as well as human-caused upheavals.
I, like many of you, know well that studying, anticipating and preparing for threats of natural disasters, violent crime, terrorism, warfare, civil unrest and many other dangers pays big dividends—and oftentimes means the difference between personal tragedy and triumph, even life and death. I call this the preparedness mindset. It’s a philosophy and way of life. It’s a way of living, not in fear, but with confidence. The knowledge and skills gained from the study of and preparation for dangers provides peace of mind, and can be vital insurance against what is the unthinkable for others.
Some people, particularly those who live all but totally dependent on the goods and services provided by our contemporary society and social infrastructures, say, “You can’t prepare for everything!” “You can’t survive everything!” True. We can be caught up in events that were unexpected, unforeseen, unknown previously. But life teaches us that there is a great deal that can be anticipated, prepared for and coped with by having the knowledge, skills, equipment and supplies needed when the time comes. These preparations can also help you develop a better ability to think clearly and act decisively in unexpected dangerous situations.
Even for those totally unanticipated dangerous situations you could suddenly find yourself thrust into, having the presence of mind to take action can keep you and others alive, spare you from serious injury, and preserve your possessions. The people who know this best are those who have been through dangerous situations. The longer you live, the more likely it is that you will encounter such events. In our still relatively free society, those of us who want to are able to study and prepare as best we can for dangerous events. But there can be a price.
It’s well known that many in the media today look down on such an attitude, since they are firm believers in the, “It takes a village”---that is, socialist---idea that you must trustingly place your life in the hands of others to see you through any social or natural upheaval. They’re quick to label, with accompanying derogatory connotations, those people who display or practice the preparedness mindset as “survivalists,” “doomsdayers,” “preppers” and so forth.
While there are among us some persons who take preparedness to extremes, the vast majority of people who have the preparedness mindset stand out in strong contrast to how they are typically painted. On the contrary, very often those engaging in preparedness are in fact among the pillars of their communities, with successful careers, strong social ties, and are well educated. These people are usually the ones others turn to for help in emergencies because they prepared and fared far better than those who didn’t.
Keep in mind, too, that while media types often portray “survivalists” as “anti-government,” many of those with the preparedness mindset work in government agencies, or with them. These people are, in fact, the government. Police officers and sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, paramedics, military personnel, FEMA staffers, and many others embrace the preparedness mindset as a way of life.
Cataclysmic occurrences aside, there are a lot of things to prepare for and survive in ordinary, every-day life, including the possibilities of terrorism, and human-caused events such as civil unrest, economic downturn, epidemics, crime, road rage, etc. The list of threats that could affect us individually, or as a region, nation or globally goes on and on. As many are now realizing, events can rapidly change our world.
A few words are in order here about discretion. As those of us well along in preparedness know, it’s always best to be discrete about one’s preparations and planning. Letting others know you have weapons, storage food, cash or other things on hand in case of breakdown can lead to you becoming a crime victim if the wrong people learn of it and decide to take what you have. So, if you see the need to prepare for various threats you and your family may have to face one day, just what do you need to do? I’ve always said, one need not be obsessed with avoiding or coping with threats to your survival.
The preparedness mindset encompasses many different approaches. Prepare as best you can and within your means, adding to and improving your preparations as time and your budget allow. Some preparation---even if it’s only thinking about what might happen---is always better than doing nothing and hoping others will save you if worse comes to worst. Many of you reading this are advanced in your preparedness thinking and planning. Others may be just beginning or haven’t even begun, but realize now is a good a time to get started.
For beginners as well as those more advanced there’s a wealth of information on the Internet to give you ideas. Just do a search for “bug out kits,” for instance, and see all the material that comes up. It’s important first to think about and plan for what is more likely to occur in your area. Are tornadoes a problem where you live? Hurricanes? Earthquakes? Do you live near a large port where oil tankers might catch fire or pollute? If you’re on the coast, what about tsunamis?
If you’re an inner city dweller, what about crime and civil unrest? What steps can you take to better protect yourself from violent crime? If an epidemic occurs, what steps can you take to protect yourself and your family? If there were to be a mass panic during the aftermath of a cataclysm, does your family have an evacuation plan? What supplies would you want to have on hand?
Again, all this doesn’t have to happen at once. And there’s no need to get stressed and fret over what you don’t have or believe you may need. Work at all this a little at a time, as your needs and budget allow. As I said, for the more advanced in preparedness thinking, all this is an ongoing concern and pastime that we engage in for the peace of mind and confidence it brings.
The Boy Scouts of America motto is: “Be Prepared.” On the website, USScouts.org, there is a brief discussion about this motto: "Be prepared for what?” someone once asked Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting. "Why, for any old thing,” Baden-Powell replied. They go on to say: “Be prepared for life---to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best.”
Sidebar: FEMA Emergency Preparedness
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends that each home, workplace, and school have emergency kits and supplies for a disaster. FEMA recommends being prepared for at least 72 hours after a disaster. These resources will help you prepare:
Official FEMA Contacts & FEMA Information
Ready.Gov Website from FEMA
Official FEMA Website
Emergency Kits and Supplies that Meet FEMA Guidelines
MobileAid Emergency Response Kits and Supplies that Meet FEMA Guidelines
Emergency Preparedness Blog - FEMA Related Topics
Respond With Confidence! Emergency Response Blog
Disaster Preparedness Information
Emergency Kits and Supplies Sales and Inquiries
Emergency Kits and Supplies that Meet FEMA Recommendations (Toll Free)
Earthquake Preparedness Information