First Time?

Sep 30

Getting Started in Personal & Family Disaster Preparedness – Part 1

By Chris Gilmour | Disaster Survival , Prepared Lifetyle

​​ ​Getting Started in ​Personal & Family Disaster Preparedness

​Personal and ​Family Disaster preparedness can be an overwhelming topic. I hope to simplify it and make it actionable for you in the next couple of posts. 
​The other day, someone asked me, “How do you sleep at night when you’re always thinking about climate change, disasters, and emergency preparedness? I get so overwhelmed, I don’t want to even think about it.”​ 

My answer was this: “I’m not worried about the future because I’m not JUST thinking about it. I am TAKING ACTION and doing things to set me and my community up for success. I’d be a lot more worried if I was pretending things weren’t changing and ignoring them.”

More…

​Many people have said to me that they’re unsure of where to get started when it comes to emergency/disaster preparedness. ​And that that they want to live a more self-reliant and adaptable lifestyle. ​
​There is a lot of information in the world and numerous possibilities and variables. Most of us have a limited amount of time, money and resources for thinking about personal preparedness. 
​That’s why we all need a very simple strategy. It must work with the unique realities of our lives ​to truly help us with our personal and family disaster preparedness. I may or may not face a natural disaster this month (and statistically, it’s likely I won’t). I can guarantee my mortgage will be due at the end of the month. Any real strategy for preparedness needs to balance our current needs with the possibilities of the future.​I’m going to break this down into two posts. Post one includes a few things to consider when planning and preparing. Post two will be a basic framework of areas that are important to include in your planning and preparations. ​This will be a short overview to help you get started. F​uture posts, webinars, and training opportunities will delve much deeper into each topic, such as the upcoming free webinar with Emily Ruff.
Doing Something is Better than Nothing

 

​Unfortunately, many people choose to do nothing rather than something. This may come back to haunt them late. If you don’t know where to start, just take ONE STEP. Do something, anything. You’ll likely feel better instantly. 
​No matter how small of a step it feels like, you’re still more prepared than you were yesterday. And the more steps you take, the clearer the next steps, and your bigger plan, will be.

Unfortunately, many people choose to do nothing rather than something, and it comes back to haunt them. If you don’t know where to start, just take ONE STEP. Do something, anything! You’ll likely feel better instantly. No matter how small of a step it feels like, you’re still more prepared than you were yesterday. And the more steps you take, the clearer the next steps, and your bigger plan, will be.

It’s also easy to forget about our desire to be better prepared when the evening news isn’t full of disaster stories. Consider getting a group of friends or family members together from time to time to talk about what you can do. 
​How can you support each other in being more prepared both before, as well as during an actual disaster or emergency? Keep each other accountable for continuing to work on your plan. The more people in your community that have a personal and family disaster plan, the better off your entire community is.  Emergency services will also be to get to those who most need it and the root of the problem quicker.
​Cultivate a Resilient and Positive Mindset

Cultivate a Resilient and Positive Mindset

A resilient mindset and positive attitude are SO IMPORTANT in these changing times. This is literally a survival skill in and of itself! 
Know these three things: 

A resilient mindset and positive attitude are SO IMPORTANT in these changing times. This is literally a survival skill in and of itself! Know these three things: Humans have been facing adversity, rising to the challenge, and overcoming obstacles since the beginning of time. We talk about climate change as a new phenomenon, but in reality, climate change has been a constant throughout the Earth’s history!

Think Positive Concept

1) Humans have been facing adversity, rising to the challenge, and overcoming obstacles, since the beginning of time. We talk about climate change as a new phenomenon, but in reality, climate change has been a constant throughout the Earth’s history.2) A lot of studies and real-life incidents suggest that very few people are adequately prepared for disasters or some of the changes the world is facing. If you’re reading this and you actually take steps, you’re likely ahead of a large percentage of the world. 
We can’t change the past; we can only do our best in the present. Feel good about yourself for being proactive. Good for you!      
3) Be grateful for what you DO have and all the blessings life has to offer. The more we can find beauty in what’s around us every day, the easier it will be able to see beauty if things get tough. Seeing beauty and feeling gratitude in a tough time may be all you need to help you take that next needed step. I believe this ability to be an important survival skill as well, maybe one of the most important!

Humans have been facing adversity, rising to the challenge, and overcoming obstacles since the beginning of time. We talk about climate change as a new phenomenon, but in reality, climate change has been a constant throughout the Earth’s history!A lot of studies and real-life incidents suggest that very few people are adequately prepared for disasters or some of the changes the world is facing. If you’re reading this and you actually take steps, you’re likely ahead of a large percentage of the world. 
We can’t change the past; we can only do our best in the present. Feel good about yourself for being proactive! Good for you!

​Be Objective: Don’t Overlook the Mundane

 

My experience is that people often get preoccupied with worst-case scenarios. They spend a lot of time worrying about things that are either (a) statistically very unlikely to happen, or (b) they can do little to nothing about. Is this your best approach to creating a practical strategy with limited time and resources?

My experience is that people often get preoccupied with worst-case scenarios and spend a lot of time worrying about things that are either (a) statistically very unlikely to happen, or (b) they can do little to nothing about, anyway. Is this your best approach to creating a practical strategy with limited time and resources?

Be objective when considering all the potential hazards and possibilities. Try to separate out your emotional response to what the hazard may look like. Also try to separate from the cultural perception and biases you may have. These can be formed through movies and other media. This emotional bias may cause you to be distracted by an unlikely scenario. As a result, you may miss a more probable hazard that you can ACTUALLY prevent or adequately prepare for. ​What kinds of emergencies have occurred in your region in the past? What are the real hazards and risks? Is it within your means to do something about them? ​In my in person training and on some of the webinars I cover a more specific process for doing this called a Hazard and Risk Identification and Vulnerability Assessment (HIRA). This is the industry standard and the basis for most emergency plans written for governments, NGO’s and businesses. I teach a citizens adaption to this. ​Focus on the most probable hazards first, and the potentially more dramatic, but less probable, second. Statistically, I suspect the risk of a house fire is a lot higher than having to fight off a horde of zombies. 

​Focus on High-Leverage Actions
Once you have a realistic and objective idea of what the most pressing hazards and likely scenarios are, think about leverage.
​What ONE ACTION can you take that would help you deal with MULTIPLE hazards at once? This is the age-old “Killing two birds with one stone” philosophy. 

Once you have a realistic and objective idea of what the most pressing hazards and likely scenarios are, think about leverage. What ONE ACTION can you take that would help you deal with MULTIPLE hazards at once? This is the age-old “Killing two birds with one stone” philosophy.

​As an example, you could have a Rubbermaid in a closet with a 72-hour emergency supply kit. This makes you significantly more resilient in a number of different situations. Taking an advanced first-aid course over a weekend is another example. This is one action that would be useful in many different possible situations.
What’s one action you could take this week that would be useful in multiple scenarios?  What would make you more prepared and resilient than you were yesterday? 
​Once you complete action one, what’s another high-leverage action you can take? Focus on the high leverage steps first to help jump-start your preparedness strategy. After several of them are in place, you can work on more specific actions for more specific scenarios.
​Think Short, Middle and Long-Term

 

​Now that you’ve considered the most realistic hazards to act on, and what high-leverage actions can you take? Think about the time, budget and resources you have available (be realistic). Use them to create a short, middle and long-term plan.
​This is where personal and family disaster  preparedness starts to get practical. ​  
​Here’s an example, let’s say you’re really concerned about a longer-term power outage. A few of your tasks could look like this:Short-Term (this week) – Stash 20 gallons of water in the basement and buy a bag of candles. Middle-Term (in the next two months) – Consider how you would cook, and how to dispose of human and other waste. Get the required gear to perform these tasks. Plan a dinner with neighbors to talk about how you could support each other during an outage. Long-Term (in the next 1 to 2 years) – Save up enough money to buy a portable generator for a back-up power supply. What else can you think of? What other tasks would you add to your plan?
​In Conclusion

Now that you’ve considered the most realistic hazards to act on, and what high-leverage actions you can take, think about the time, budget and resources you have available (be realistic), and use them to create a short, middle and long-term plan.Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re really concerned about a longer-term power outage. A few of your tasks could look like this:Short-Term (this week) – Stash 20 gallons of water in the basement and buy a bag of candles. Middle-Term (in the next two months) – Consider how you would cook, and how to dispose of human and other waste. Get the required gear to perform these tasks. Plan a dinner with neighbours to talk about how you could support each other during an outage. Long-Term (in the next 1 to 2 years) – Save up enough money to buy a portable generator for a back-up power supply. What else can you think of? What other tasks would you add to your plan? Think Short, Middle and Long-TermAs an example, you could have a Rubbermaid in a closet with a 72-hour emergency supply kit. This makes you significantly more resilient in a number of different situations. Taking an advanced first-aid course over a weekend is another example of one action that would be useful in many different possible situations.     What’s one action you could take this week that would be useful in multiple scenarios, and leave you more prepared and resilient than you were yesterday? Once you complete that, what’s another high-leverage action you could take? Focus on those first to help jump-start your preparedness strategy. After several them are in place, you can work on more specific actions for more specific scenarios.Focus on High-Leverage Actions    Be objective when considering all the potential hazards and possibilities. Try to separate out your emotional response to what the hazard may look like. Also try to separate from the cultural perception and biases we may have formed through movies and other media. This emotional bias may cause us to be distracted by an unlikely scenario and completely miss a much more probable one that we can ACTUALLY prevent or adequately prepare for. What kinds of emergencies have occurred in your region in the past? What are the real hazards and risks? Is it within your means to do something about them?Focus on the most probable hazards first, and the potentially more dramatic – but less probable – second. Statistically, I suspect the risk of a house fire is a lot higher than having to fight off a horde of zombies. Be Objective: Don’t Overlook the MundaneHumans have been facing adversity, rising to the challenge, and overcoming obstacles since the beginning of time. We talk about climate change as a new phenomenon, but in reality, climate change has been a constant throughout the Earth’s history!A lot of studies and real-life incidents suggest that very few people are adequately prepared for disasters or some of the changes the world is facing. If you’re reading this and you actually take steps, you’re likely ahead of a large percentage of the world. 
We can’t change the past; we can only do our best in the present. Feel good about yourself for being proactive! Good for you! 
Be grateful for what you DO have and all the blessings life has to offer. The more we can find beauty in what’s around us every day, the easier it will be able to see beauty if things get tough. Seeing beauty and feeling gratitude in a tough time may be all you need to help you take that next needed step. I believe this ability to be an important survival skill as well – maybe one of the most important!    It’s also easy to forget about our desire to be better prepared when the evening news isn’t full of disaster stories, like it has been in the past few weeks. Consider getting a group of friends or family members together from time to time to talk about what you can do. How can you support each other in being more prepared before as well as during an actual disaster or emergency? Keep each other accountable for continuing to work on your plan. You can download this PDF……. right now to get moving!Here are a few thoughts on how to begin creating your unique preparedness strategy…Post 1: Basic ConsiderationsDoing Something is Better than Nothing    The other day, someone asked me, “How do you sleep at night when you’re always thinking about climate change, disasters, and emergency preparedness? I get so overwhelmed, I don’t want to even think about it.”    My answer was this: “I’m not worried about the future because I’m not JUST thinking about it. I am TAKING ACTION and doing things to set me and my community up for success. I’d be a lot more worried if I was pretending things weren’t changing and ignoring them.“I can’t control the fate of myself or the world, but I can do my best. This lets me sleep well and stay positive.”    Many people have said to me that they’re unsure of where to get started when it comes to emergency/disaster preparedness and living a more self-reliant, adaptable lifestyle. These next few posts will attempt to make what can be a very overwhelming topic simple and actionable.     There is a lot of information in the world, and uncountable possibilities and variables. Most of us have a limited amount of time, money and resources for thinking about personal preparedness. That’s why we all need a very simple strategy that works with the unique realities of our lives. I may or may not face a natural disaster this month (and statistically, it’s likely I won’t), but I can guarantee my mortgage will be due at the end of the month. Any real strategy for preparedness needs to balance our current needs with the possibilities of the future.    I’m going to break this down into two posts. Post 1 includes a few things to consider when planning and preparing. Post 2 will be a basic framework of areas that are important to include in your planning and preparations. This will be a short overview to help you get started. Futures posts, webinars, and training opportunities will delve much deeper into each topic.

​I hope you found these basic concepts useful. ​ ​Furthermore, I hope you can start to take an overwhelming topic and break it down into easy-to-accomplish steps.
​This post has just skimmed the surface​. ​​In part two I will go over a basic framework for both emergency/disaster preparedness and self-reliant living. I’ll lay out some clear steps you can take to become more prepared for a changing world.
Was this post useful? What were your take a ways? What questions come up for you? Share your comments below!
​In the meantime, consider jumping on our next FREE webinar, Oct 5, 2017.  I will be interviewing Emily Ruff around her experience being in Florida during Hurricane Irma, What she learned, what she is doing to prepare for the next disaster, and thoughts on mobilizing your community!
Learn more & Register for this ​FREE webinar​ & learning opportunity!

I hope you found these basic steps useful, and that they help you to take what can be an overwhelming topic and break it down into easy-to-accomplish steps. I’ve only skimmed the surface; consider joining one of our upcoming webinars if you’re interested in diving more deeply into a topic.Also stay tuned for Post 2, where I’ll go over a basic framework for both emergency/disaster preparedness and self-reliant living.

Sep 13

Part 2 – Learning from Hurricane Irma & Harvey – Preparing for Climate Change

By Chris Gilmour | Disaster Survival , Extreme Weather

What can we learn from Natural Disasters such as Hurricane Irma & Harvey to be better prepared for Climate Change?

​Click here if you missed part 1 with Lessons 1 – 3
Lesson #4 – Don’t assume the government and emergency services will be there to help you – In a big disaster they are unlikely to have the capacity.

More…

I heard on the news during Harvey (I believe it was on CBC) that there was a backlog of over 2000 calls to emergency services for help. Emergency services were only responding to immediate life or death calls (and even had a back log in those). Climate Change is likely to make these situations more common.

People often assume the government is ready to swoop in with helicopters to save us if anything goes wrong. Unfortunately, during a major disaster, this simply is not true. Most Governments request that all citizen be able to take care of ALL of their basic needs for at least 72hrs. The government and emergency services do not have a crystal ball. They also have a limited budget and capacity to plan and prepare, just like us. And, climate change are making old models of predicting weather, less dependable. I personally do not believe it is the Government’s job to come in and save the day (in every situation). They have to look at the big picture and make decisions that are best for the majority of the population. This may trump your personal needs and situation.Whether you agree with this statement or not, when we study disasters around the world, we commonly see governments being overwhelmed. People having to fend for themselves. ​                               What can we do NOW to be better prepared
1) Be proactive and take your safety and well-being into your own hands. The less able-bodied adults need to call on the Government and Emergency Services to save them, the more time the authorities have to work at solving the root of the issue (ex: fixing infrastructure). This allows them to focus on protecting vulnerable places such as hospitals, old age homes, and people who do not have the capacity to provide for themselves. 
2) Get your emergency kits together as stated in step 2.
3) Learn skills that make you more resilient and have fun doing it! Instead of going out for a weekend on the town, put one weekend aside to do a more advanced first aid course or a survival course. This can be lots of fun if you approach it with the right attitude.
4) Talk with neighbors and family about how you would come together and work together in the event of a disaster or emergency.Who on your street has a first aid training?​Does anyone have a generator?Who in your family is going to check on Grandma?​Is anyone going to check on the elderly couple or single mother/father down the street that do not have a support network.
Lesson #5 – Communications often fail during emergencies
​Don’t rely on the infrastructure you use every day to be working. Have a Communications Plan!
Prior to Hurricane Harvey, many instructions were going out through the radio, the internet, and news channels. Some areas were being told to evacuate . Others were being told to get emergency supplies, food and water together and to prepare to hunker down.

“We cannot conceive ALL possibilities, but we can be strategic & leverage actions that set us up for better success”

Click to Tweet

​These instructions are based on the best information available at the time. Weather and disasters are often unpredictable. Once the power goes out, circumstances can change and the original information you were given may no longer be relevant or helpful.On top of that, it is likely you will come up with questions that never occurred to you before the incident. Or under the stress and unpredictability of the situation, governments may not mention what to do if…In the case of Hurricane Harvey, people were climbing into their attics to escape rising water flooding into their homes. But the amount of flooding was un-predicted and many homes flooded right up over the roof. Imagine being in your attic, water flowing in from underneath, and trapped? Once the power goes down it becomes harder to communicate to people that they need to get even higher. That they need to either get on their roof (if safe) or if they head into their attic,​ they should have an axe or chainsaw to cut themselves out.On top of this, imagine being separated from family and loved ones with no way to communicate with them? The roads are down or unpassable, the phones do not work, what do you do?​                       What can we do NOW to be better prepared1) Make plans with family ahead of timeIn the event of a power outage, if safe to do so, we will meet here.Plan B is to meet here.Who will check on Grandma if we all have to shelter in place?2) Learn ahead of time what channels emergency services and the government will be using to give out important information before, during and after an emergency.Even if phone lines are up, local airways may be jammed by the volume of people trying to communicate locally. Try sending texts instead (which use less bandwidth). Have a pre designated person out of town to be a point of contact for family members in the disaster zone that may not be able to reach each other but may be able to call out of town.3) Have a hand cranked and/or battery powered radio with a minimum of AM/FM for news and the weather band so you can stay up to date even without power.If you want to take it a step further, look into getting a basic HAM Radio so you can tune into and listen to emergency service channels to gather more relevant information.
​Below are a few fairly basic ​emergency radios I have used. They get AM/FM, weather band NOAA & some have built in USB chargers & flashlights. These are NOT HAM radios. These are good starters for people who are not looking to take further radio training at this time. 

​Canadian Amazon Links

Eton NSP101WXGR Scorpion ll Rugged Portable Multi-Purpose Digital Radio with Crank Power Back-Up and Weather AlertsEton FRX5BT All Purpose Weather Alert Radio with Bluetooth, Black

​American Amazon Links

Eton NSP101WXGR Scorpion ll Rugged Portable Multi-Purpose Digital Radio with Crank Power Back-Up and Weather AlertsAmerican Red Cross FRX3 Hand Crank NOAA AM/FM Weather Alert Radio with Smartphone Charger

** Any tools or books purchased through the links on this site provide a very small amount of income towards supporting this blog. So if your going to buy any of these resources, please consider using these links and consider it a tip for my work. Thank You!
Lesson 6 – Practice situational awareness and alertness everyday… be ahead of the storm and the panic.
Regardless of past events and how much information is out there, people commonly choose NOT to be proactive. Do not wait till it is too late to consider emergency preparedness.

​In the event of an incoming disaster, with a little bit of notice, the last thing you want to be doing is running to the store to get batteries. Especially when you could be working on the next step of your plan, such as how to fortify your home, or gather family members together. You could end up getting injured or worse on route to the store because of the panic of other unprepared people.I personally know SO MANY people who don’t even think about this kind of stuff. Many of my friends have no idea Harvey even happened and have never looked at historical disasters from their region. I also watch people all the time walking down the street with absolutely no awareness of potential hazards around them. They would likely have no way of knowing a big storm was headed their way. We can not afford this complacency with the realities of climate change. I heard a few people being interviewed on the new in the wake of Harvey that had no clue the storm was even coming . Many did not know that people were being ordered to evacuate or seek cover. Their lifestyles are just not set up to pay attention to possibilities such as this.I hope after this storm, many will reconsider what they pay attention to as they walk through life and take emergency preparedness and climate change seriously.
                       What can we do NOW to be better preparedTake a couple hours one evening to consider all the emergency possibilities that could happen in your life/region. You may want to use google to research disasters that have happened in your area in the past (just remember lesson
1) Visit your local government or emergency preparedness agencies website to see what they suggest in terms of preparedness measure and how to react during different emergencies.
2) Monitor the weather and get some emergency alert apps for your phone. I use the Red Cross “Be Ready” app. There are lots of other great ones out there.
3) As you travel around town, to and from work, consider what potential hazards may exist. Are chemicals transported down the local rail track or Highway? Where could a road wash out in a flood? How would I get home if my normal route was blocked off?
4) Play the “What if game.” While going about your day, occasionally think of an out of the ordinary hazard situation, and ask yourself, what would I do if?
5) Read some books and articles on improving your situational awareness as well as emergency preparedness and survival, a few ​good ones are:

​Situational Awareness:

​Canadian Amazon Links

What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural WorldThe Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from ViolenceLeft of Bang: How the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life

American Amazon Links

What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural WorldThe Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From ViolenceLeft of Bang: How the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life

​Emergency, Disaster & Survival:

When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis SurvivalSAS Survival Handbook: The Definitive Survival GuideTom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness SurvivalWhen Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis SurvivalSAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving AnywhereTom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival

Congratulations on making it to the end. I know that was a long one but I also think it was a great opportunity to learn and grow.
If you found this article helpful then please browse the site for more, check out some of the training opportunities, and SHARE with your Friends!
You can also leave question and comments in the discussion below.
​​Fill in the form below to get on our mailing list and stay up to date about new posts, videos, webinars and other training/learning opportunities.

Stay Informed, Sign-up Now

Sep 05

6 Lessons from Hurricane Irma & Harvey in Preparing for Natural Disasters & Climate Change

By Chris Gilmour | Disaster Survival , Extreme Weather

What Irma & Harvey CanTeach us to Prepare for Hurricane Florence & the Future. 


Want the key points? - Scroll to "What We Can Do Now.." near the bottom of the post. 

As I update this post, Hurricane Florence is heading towards the Carolina coast where over 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate. One year ago I wrote the original post just after Hurricane Harvey battered Texas and Hurricane Irma the Caribbean and East Coast of the United States. 
Continue reading
>