How-To Survive. A guide to getting the whole family involved.
In almost all the episodes of “Doomsday Prepper” that was aired back in its day, all of them included the whole family when preparing for whatever they concluded was coming. This was not a design of the producers, as one of the critical elements to any level of survival, is that all members of the team are moving in the same direction. They are working harmoniously to create a defined path forward. In some cases there exists tension between spouses when one doesn’t support the level of preparedness the other deems necessary, however, as you all know, being part of a family means that sometimes we have to compromise a little when establishing our level of prep. I am a strong advocate of the strength of a team, so having another pair of eyes looking over our preparations will guarantee better success. In addition, when you’re family is involved, recovery activities can be better independently addressed. This is the optimal scenario for survival techniques for your family. Having assignments for smaller kids can help ensure that they are controlled, and can distract them from the scenario that you may find yourself in. As I mentioned last week, the requirement to quash the fear and panic, and continue to move forward with your plan is paramount to the overall success. We must take into account the primary reason we started to prepare in the first place, our family. We go through the process of being prepared to make sure that we are all safe, regardless of what happens. Even if we are single, and living far from home, knowing that we have the resources or communication methods in place to make a stand as a family. Ultimately we add value to our society by reducing the number of resources needed, by being prepared.
Today I want to talk about getting the family together around being prepared. Today I’d like to give you some tips to help get, your family involved in your preparedness. Desiree P from Billings, Montana brings us this week's topic. My conversation with Desiree really highlighted this topic, as her husband is one who doesn’t think that it’s necessary at all. He has suggested that they allow the Red Cross or other organizations to handle things when the unexpected happens. He doesn't understand the value of being independent and self-reliant. Being a prepper doesn’t make us crazy hermits hold up on some ramshackle cabin out in the wilderness. I find it hilarious that many of those who ridicule preppers require preparation for many things they do each day. In the same manner, we get tools together to tackle a project, or data together to present to the board, we prepare for an emergency. That’s really all there is. Being ready, and able to take the necessary steps to assist ourselves, and our community to achieve a speedier recovery following a disaster situation is why many of us do what we do. While actually preparing for the onslaught of mythical creatures seeking brains is mostly the ridicule of those who seek to undermine the security of our communities. They will be the ones who place a heavy burden on an overwhelmed emergency medical system world-wide, potentially crashing that system.
While allowing local agencies to assist us (or save us) following a disaster is one school of thought, however, I personally think that being prepared and able to be self-sufficient during (particularly) the early hours after a disaster, that frees up first responders and the medical community as-a-whole, to assist those who really need it. I personally feel as if my immediate survival abilities following a natural disaster is my responsibility to my community, and by doing so, I further assist my community by freeing up those first responders to be elsewhere, not to mention the knowledge that my family is taken care of allowing me to be an additional public resource to help others. Ultimately assisting our community to recover more quickly. That really is the name of the game here, getting my community back on its feet quickly. As humans, we are social animals at the genetic level, so having a society to be a part of, regardless of size, is the reason we become prepared.
So, let’s talk about some of the reasons for being prepared for a local emergency. One of the first concepts I want you to know is scope. No, it’s not just mouthwash anymore. The scope defines the extent of damage or community involvement. A house fire would have a very limited scope, one or two families depending on who lived there, whereas an apartment complex fire could potentially have a larger scope of impact. A natural disaster (earthquake, tornado, or hurricane, etc) would have a much larger scope, possibly affecting thousands of families. When it comes to being prepared, many simply ignore the need because the first responders are there to save us from these threats, because our taxes pay for that, while others think they have to go “full-tilt” right out of the gate and sink thousands of dollars into their “preps” which therefore seems overwhelming to them. Well, while I have witnessed both these levels of preparation, I would like to use these two extremes as our navigational beacons as we go further here today. A big point here to remember after an event of substantial magnitude (no pun intended), is response times. When first responders are able to respond, it could be hours later, whether that be caused by the obstacles in the road or the sheer volume of requests that they have to prioritize, and only so many people to handle those calls. When the rescues resort to the use of helicopters or otherwise specialized equipment, the possible elapsed time between event and rescue could be extended even further. So, let’s talk a minute about how my wife and I agreed to prepare. Some of the discussions we had when deciding to become “preppers”. As you can imagine, based on this discussion, our single largest point was how can we avoid using the 911 system. How can we ensure our safety, and help our neighbors?
My wife and I talked about food availability following any type of disaster. In example after example, we see that grocery stores are unable to keep up with the demand before, and following, any type of large-scope disaster. Store shelves are very quickly emptied, leaving those who don’t have their own stocks without necessary items, My wife and I agree that we need to avoid the chaotic scenes of those local stores. Many will race to the markets to secure everything from toilet paper to generators, as well as what food items are left. Case in point, we witnessed during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic (particularly during and lock-downs), people rushing to horde certain supplies in an effort to profit generously from the ill-prepared, and panicked population. Others rushed out to secure things they really didn’t understand and had no idea how to use, in desperate hopes of retaining their lifestyles based on partial information, many not realizing how to even properly utilize the items they just bought, only “knowing” they needed it. On many occasions, I’ve heard from you all about neighbors who visit other neighbors inquiring about how to use their brand new generator. In some cases not realizing that the generator requires a fuel source, whether it be gasoline or natural gas, thereby rendering their acquisition useless. In other cases we witnessed retail outlets not accepting returns for many different products, and purchase limits on products, in an effort to prevent hoarding. Tons of space heaters and other electrical appliances, purchased during power outages, without the benefit of a working generator demonstrates the level of preparedness some people have. In some cases, we witnessed violence being engaged in over those supplies from the local stores.
The displayed violence led my wife and me to talk about witnessing the typical chaos outside our community following these large-scale emergencies, and after serving in plenty of roles in the “emergency personnel” roles outside our home, I agreed with my wife that we had to have enough to keep her, the kids and dogs safe and secure until I could get home, knowing it might be hours, or even days before I could. In addition, my mission of quickly getting, and staying home, wouldn't be adding to the chaos on the streets either, by being prepared in advance, I could stay home and tend to my home, and family, and not be trying to navigate streets packed with emergency vehicles, utility vehicles, and those unprepared citizens racing to get enough food or other needs. Depending on what type of disaster, might determine whether the roads and streets are even usable at all. I reminded of watching the news about several of our nation’s last hurricanes and seeing people going house to house in boats because of the flooding. So, having food storage that you can rely on allows you to “hunker down in place”, as long as it’s safe for you and your family.
Finally, we, like you, witnessed the frequent opportunistic crime following the violent protests throughout the lower-48, as well as Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005, as well as many other natural disasters, so the final reason I would say I personally prefer to be prepared is for security reasons. As there are some among us who would use this type of opportunity to loot homes for their material gains. The unfortunate times we live in currently displaying a marked increase in these opportunistic crimes nationwide, and unfortunately, natural disasters typically leave our homes prone to this type of victimization. So, by staying at home you are better able to assist in the security of your property. If nothing else, your property is not left unprotected.
In my case, due to a substantial experience in the survival and emergency response fields, as soon as I know my family is safe and secure, I will venture out to my neighbors and verify their safety. One of the greatest thoughts I carry with me is knowing my wonderful bride is fully capable and willing to exercise our plans independent of me being there or not. This understanding allows me to reach out to neighbors and friends, continuing to assist our community in a more rapid recovery. This really is the benefit of having the entire family involved in the plan. It is the crown jewel in any emergency preparedness plan.
In the quest to bring everyone on board, particularly school-aged children we need to have age-appropriate explanations for them, as well as tasks they can complete. The trick here is to remember the “age-appropriate” part, keeping in mind that they are not capable of the complex thoughts needed, and therefore cannot be expected to perform outside of their level. My sons, who are just under eleven years old, my wife and I determined, based on their ages, what their jobs were after any type of natural disaster. Jobs like “reporting in”, “get your flashlights”, and “getting our dogs on leashes” were assigned and practiced. In much the same way they attend earthquake and fire drills at school, we periodically practice their assignments. Working within their scope, we keep their assignment simple, yet visible so they can garner a level of self-confidence. Small steps will reap huge rewards for their self-confidence and independence.
The place to start, for spouses/partners that think you might be losing your marbles with the whole “prepper” thing, is the open conversation about the reasoning I discussed here and your honest concerns. Typically it’s not about the “zombie apocalypse”, it’s about being prepared for those local catastrophic events that happen in every corner of the world, every day with millions of victims. For real-world examples, search the internet for catastrophes, there are tons. Now, having said that, there is some regional expectations too, as Desiree and I discussed, her plans probably don’t include hurricanes, but honestly, the weekend before last we witnessed a magnitude 5.0 earthquake in Maine of all places, so nothing should be left off the table of discussion and/or preparation plans. Many of the serious groups for everyday survival, use the term “zombie” as a metaphor for anything stacked against us. Both natural and man-made disasters are included in this metaphor, so really explaining that might help get a common ground of understanding. The key to prepping is to take the weight off the shoulders of the system and carry that responsibility ourselves. That’s the take-a-way from this. Taking the burden on ourselves to not being a victim, but a champion for your community.
So, let’s get down to the reality of prepping, there are two schools of thought I’d like you to consider when starting to become prepared. The first school of thought, I call “prepping in stages”. Now you can divide it up any way you want, but my suggestion would be to look at the stages of immediate recovery as I mentioned in our show “Survival Mindset” back in mid-October. Do you remember the stages?
First is the airway, so in all scenarios, we know that being able to breathe and continue to breathe, should be a critical concern. That has to happen in less than three minutes or really bad things will happen. So, things like locating the natural gas shutoff valve to your home or apartment, and have the tool to shut it off with, and masks (you should plenty of them laying around), but ensuring to have multiple levels of protection. In last week's show, we talked about the possibility of chemicals being mixed together during some type of event potentially causing toxic fumes, you will need to know how to dilute it enough to continue to breathe. Honestly consider all the things that can wrong with this, and be prepared for that. Think long and hard about what could wrong? Again, be mindful of any special concerns here, whether it needs to include asthmatic concerns, or COPD, or possibly even an infant.
Next is housing and/or shelter. While your home may not be damaged, it is kind of safe practice to huddle in a designated area of your home that meets the “nest” criteria.
A “nest” is a smaller, defensible space within your home that can cordoned-off. This area would be more easily temperature-controlled and is typically stationed along a weight-bearing wall of the home that has minimal traffic, and nothing stored in an elevated position.
Once your nest is established, think about all your needs for that portion.
At the same time consider the possibility of having to relocate for either: too much damage, and/or inadequate security possibilities are given the structure evaluation. Leaving your home is called "bugging out" in the “prepper” vernacular, however, it may not involve heading out to a secured bunker in the wilderness, it may be to a friend's place, close by that has less structural damage. It could be your neighbor’s place.
As we mentioned in our “fab five” in last week’s show, the next item on your priority list is drinkable water for you and your family. This can come together in a multitude of ways, it could be the collection of rainwater, or melted snow with a level of purification, all depending on the scenario involved, or it could be stored bottled water. The FEMA website recommends having three days worth of water (keeping in mind that it’s a gallon per day, per person), I think I’ll double that number, also remember to calculate enough water for pets as well. Pets should be calculated at the same rate as humans.
Next, we look at nourishment, this is big. Again, looking at the FEMA recommends having several days, but be mindful of special dietary needs. The key here is to stay away from having any type of food needs shortly after this type of event. I’d also include prescriptions and medicines (other than the standard first aid kit stuff) here too. Again, the general rule of thumb is to start with enough for two weeks, then build from there. Finishing out this point is pet food, remember if you switch up their food during a crisis, it may cause unexpected results, so keep everything as normal as possible, for both pets and kids.
Throughout the years I’ve spoken to thousands of individuals who think that prepping begins with a thousand dollar shopping trip to Costco that initiates the food stores necessary for this prepper thing, so I’m here to dispel that myth. This brings up the second school of thought I have about being prepared.
The best way to establish your food stores is to take small steps towards preparedness, don't try to get everything together on a weekend, take deliberate small steps. My wife has become an expert shopper for our food preps, by shopping for the "on-sale" and “clearance” items (especially the less perishable items), she has been able to slowly assemble our emergency food stores. By picking up single, or very few items each week, she has substantially reduced the upfront cost, and we have now built up a sizable store. However, adding smaller amounts each shopping trip allows you to build the store, without breaking the bank.
Finally, in conclusion, bringing in a resistant partner may be a challenge, particularly given the negative connotation associated with the term “prepper”. However, the major discussion should be about keeping your family members safe and secure, in these uncertain times, particularly following a natural or man-made disaster. Whether you live in a major city and are concerned with natural disasters, violent protesting, and opportunistic crime, or the rural USA where the interruption of the supply chain could be devastating, being prepared for these types of events is simply an intelligent decision for you and your family. However, there are ways that you can communicate with your partner about your honest concerns. Do your research, study the possibilities, we all know that imperial data is the best option in support of your perspective. If you still have some concerns, by all means, have them listen to my show! Just kidding, but be honest with your concerns, and explain that the difference between survivor and victim can be usually directly linked with the level of preparedness.
These are my two cents, and I hope it helps you have the ability to alleviate your concerns and feel better about being prepared for whatever you feel is your threat. I also hope that your partner realizes what a hero they have in you. By making the choice to be prepared, you have committed yourself to make your community that much better. I say “Thanks” for stepping up your commitment to your community, and to the human race as-a-whole, you have become a beacon of hope for the human endeavor on this rock we call home. Thanks for spending the time with us here at Alaskan Outlaw. We look forward to hearing from you about your stories about convincing your partner to commit to your prep. Next week we’ll be talking about mitigating risks that I hope will help keep you safe and protected. Until then, my friends, be safe out there and be true to who you are... Peace.
[Submitted by Mark Weisman]