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Sep 30

​​ ​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.

About the Author

Chris Gilmour is the creator of ChangingWorldProject.com He has a diverse background in the study of ecology, teaching traditional wilderness & urban survival, consulting in modern-day emergency and disaster preparedness and has a passion for self-reliance such as growing food and the martial arts.

  • Ann says:

    Well written, Chris!
    Are we storing 20 gallons of water in the basement per family, or per family member?

    • Chris Gilmour says:

      Hello Ann, The 20 gallons was a rough number thrown out for the example.The general guideline is 1 gallon/day pp for drinking and hygiene needs. Thus the 20 gallons would be a 4 day stash for a family of 5.Up north with an abundant access to water I don’t personally store very much. If I lived in the city I would personally store a minimum 1 – 2 week stash for my family. Hurricane Harvey, Irma & Maria have all proven that the accepted “72 hr preparedness kit”, although better than nothing, may not be enough.

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