Welcome to September! National Preparedness Awareness Month!
I honestly didn’t know there was National Preparedness Month till around July when someone mentioned it on my timeline. Turns out it was one of those true things you learn on the internet!
September was designated as National Preparedness Month in 2004 in an effort to strengthen the United States capabilities. The architecture of the program encompasses prevention, protection, response, and recovery efforts across a spectrum of hazards from natural disasters to terrorist attacks. It was understandably put into motion following the 9/11 attacks our country had endured. Created in part as a way to help American’s take action in the overall picture of our country’s preparedness and security.
Taking something from the tragedy and pain, and using it to learn and grow.
Mental Health Preparedness Is Key
You have to be mentally strong and able to handle the emergency at hand first and foremost. The two most important of all the survival skills are “mental toughness” and “ability to work together”. We talk a lot about personal development and accountability here at The We Spot. This is just one more area that self awareness really applies. While we cannot prepare for every possible scenario, we CAN prepare our own mindset to be able to asses the situation when the times comes. We can prepare to see the challenge before us, and make the next best step, and calmly maneuver the situation. That ability to stay calm in the midst of chaos is essential in an emergency. It is a “muscle” you can work on today, with the small stressors, to be more prepared to take on the big ones when they come. Take some tips from our war veterans on handling life and mental health among the darkness.
Why Should We Prepare?
Let’s face it, being prepared is more about WHEN things happen, not IF. You may know that better than others because you were there during Hurricane Katrina and had no power for weeks or you were abroad when a military coup took over and shut down the country you were visiting. Or you just know you’d feel better knowing you are prepared because SHTF moments happen, period.
Deciding to prepare some things ahead of time so that you are not caught off guard when emergencies happen is a healthy response to our environment. The world can be a crazy place – from natural disasters, to fluke accidents, to human decisions that impact others. These things are real, and chances are you will encounter one incident or more in your lifetime. Being prepared gives you some peace of mind and empowerment knowing you are a step ahead and will be able to handle what comes.
What Do I Prepare FOR?
It may feel like it’s hard to know what exactly to prep for. There are many scenarios that can happen, with very different impacts on the immediate area. One thing most emergency situations have in common? Access to basic necessities are cut off for a period of time.
So that’s where we start. No matter what the situation may be, these things are almost always needed in any disaster scenario. Don’t get overwhelmed when you read these and look around your house and realize you are less than ready. The good thing is, you’re probably reading this NOT in an active disaster or war zone and you have the ability and time to get things in order.
Pack Your Bags!
In the military we called them “Go Bags” and “Bug Out Bags” – but call them whatever you wish. The important thing is you and your family know where they are, and that they are packed and ready to go when the time comes.
I keep one small basic kit in my car – it’s a backpack one of the kids doesn’t use anymore. For no more than 24 hours of immediate survival needs – simple stuff to stop immediate medical issues and make it home or to the next safest spot.
Then there is the “Go Bag” with my IDs, some cash, protein bars, knife, etc. In the case that I need to LEAVE a situation in a hurry, not hunker down for a few weeks.
The last bag isn’t a bag – it’s a Prep Pantry with the items needed for our family in case we need to hunker down at home for a few weeks.
Your Preparedness Pantry Basics:
Water is #1, cause quite frankly you’ll be dead in 3 days without it. Start collecting water NOW. Use empty milk jugs and other bottles to start storing tap water. Buy some 5 gallon jugs of purified water. There are stackable water storage, filtered water catch systems, and more. Get what works for your home and family. The rule of thumb is to have 1 gallon per person per day. So if you have a family of 4, planning for a 2 week emergency, you need 56 gallons of water stored.
This goes hand in hand with WHAT food you decide to store for your prep pantry. The main thing is to plan for power and/or gas to the home to be out. You could use a wood stove or fireplace to cook, or an out door grill. Other options are camping stoves with cans of Sterno or other fuel source, or solar cooking devices that can boil water or heat canned foods. In case you have to use your emergency heating tools – do it OUTSIDE as most camping and survival fuels are not indoor friendly.
There are so many ways to prepare your emergency prepper panty it would be a whole blog series on it’s own, and there are many blogs like this one dedicated to just that. The simple prep I personally use are easily available canned goods at the market. Choose higher nutrient dense foods and make sure you have some ready to eat proteins like tuna or beans. Things like rice and lentils are also good to have on hand, but keep in mind they will also need water and heat resources. Think simple, nutrient dense, and something you can stand to eat every day for a few weeks.
Body heat is what you are concerned with in an emergency, not necessarily keeping the house or car heated. Have some space blankets and hand warmers in your survival kit. Wool socks and underlayers are good for keeping your body warm. Heat sources like kerosene lamps and even candles also are good to have. Prep the area you are hunkering down in by sealing windows and cracks so less heat can escape while you wait out the storm.
One often over looked aspect of preparation is sanitation. Think of it this way, you are eating and drinking and will have to expel waste at some point. Keeping the area as clean and sanitary as possible fends off further emergencies from becoming ill in a disaster. Have baby wipes, cleaning supplies, and a personal waste plan as part of your prepper gear. Items like wash basins, towels, and kitty litter are helpful. You can even make a human kitty litter toilet!
Light is essential, whether it is to illuminate your path to safety or simply because it calms us to be able to see each others loving faces when we are scared. Pack a few flashlights with extra batteries, and a hand crank or solar flashlight as well. Long burning candles and solar stake lights are also great to have.
Tools and Supplies
A few simple and basic tools will be helpful in many scenarios, and can fit an array of possible needs. Some of the ones I keep in my car kit are lighters, basic screwdriver/hammer/wrench, duct tape, super glue, bungee cords and a sewing kit. These things can come in handy even in non-emergency situations so it makes sense to have them in your preparedness kit as well. Also add a standard can opener, batteries in various sizes, some rope, compass and map, and a mirror.
First Aid/Medical Kit
It’s important to have a basic first aid kit on hand at all times, but particularly in the event of an emergency. Your kit should include basic wound care items like bandages, antibiotic ointments, and sprays. As well, if you use them, keep on hand a supply of basic over-the-counter medications, like pain relief capsules, cold medicine, cough syrup, anti-nausea pills, and allergy medication. Add a medical guide and first aid book so that whoever steps in to help can, regardless of medical training background.
Tailor Your Bags to What You Specifically Need
Additional parts of your preparedness plan depend on you and your family’s specific needs. Consider things that you use on a regular basis in your household. If you have pets, you’ll need supplies for them too. If you have children with special needs like autism, have some sensory items to help them cope with the stress around them. The best way to figure these items out is to jot down items as you think of them or use them for a week – and make sure those things are in your “Go Bag”.
Start where you can, and build from there.
Pre-packed Prepper Gear is available all over the internet to buy. If you don’t want to or cannot buy them, there are many many blogs dedicated to DIY Prepper ideas. The important thing is to START.
Don’t start to prep with an idea of doomsday looming over your head.
Instead look at it as a moment to prepare for your future, taking the realization of possible events that could happen, and knowing you are taking direct action to put yourself and your family in a better level of capability simply by choosing to PREPARE.