Thursday, December 7, 2017

Personal/Family Preparedness Assessment

How prepared are you and your family for a disaster? Here are some questions and considerations to think about and discuss as you assess you and your family's preparedness:

Are you informed of the possible risks you and your family may face? Have you thought through all the possible risks you and your family may face? What natural or man-made disasters are likely for your area? What are your area's chances for earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, or severe winter storms? Do you have any nearby nuclear facilities, power plants, or industrial sites that may pose special hazards? Are you near potential targets for a terrorist attack? What are your concern's for possible economic or political problems?  Do you know your local community's warning systems, emergency plans, and evacuation routes?

(Check out my article Disaster Planning: Understanding Potential Disasters for more on understanding potential risks.)

Do you have a Disaster Preparedness Plan? Are your plans written down, with specific details? Or, are your plans mostly "in your head" with few concrete details?  Have you shared your plan with everyone involved (spouse, children, other close family and friends) and gotten their feedback? A plan really isn't a plan until its been well-thought out, written down, reviewed by all concerned, adjusted, re-written, tested, and implemented.

Do you have a Family Communications Plan? Do you have an up-to-date list of family, friends, and other contacts? People move, phone numbers change, and email changes even more often - that list you put together five years ago is unlikely to still be current. Does everyone in your family have a list of important phone numbers? Do your kids know who to call next if they can't get you on the phone for some reason (perhaps Grandma, or Aunt Ida)? A disaster is unlikely to happen at a convenient and predictable time when everyone is together. Also, phones and Internet my be down during, and even after, a disaster. The situation wiull be chaotic and confused. More than just an address book or contact list with phone numbers. a communications plan let's everyone know how and when to get in touch with each other, and what to do if they cannot. 


Do you have a fully stocked first aid kit at home? I'm not talking about a few band-aids, a bottle of aspirin, and a dried up tube of triple-antibiotic ointment scattered around your house, but rather a fully-stocked and well-organized kit. You shouldn't have to search through all your bathroom and kitchen drawers to find what you need in an emergency.

(Click here for a fairly comprehensive first aid kit (326 pieces) for only $35) 

Have you taken an actual first aid course recently? Having a first aid manual that you quickly skimmed through once right after you bought it doesn't count as training. Nor does your boy scout training from 30 years ago. Everyone in your family/group needs actual first aid training with refresher courses every so often.

Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? Is it still within its expiration date? Does everyone know how to use it? Do you have a fire extinguisher n your vehicle?

(I have several Fire Gone fire extinguishers in my home. They are easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and work on Class A, B, and C fires.) 

How quickly would you run out of water, if your water was unexpectedly cut-off for some reason? If you have your own well, assume the pump breaks for some reason and cannot be quickly replaced. Do you have enough stored water to last a week? Two weeks? Do you know how and where to collect water and how to purify water? 

(The Lifestraw Family Water Filter can purify over 4,700 gallons of water, without the need for chemicals, for under $75.)

If you should not purchase any food at a store or restaurant for one week, would you have enough food stored at home to eat during that week? Expand that period to two weeks, then one month, then six-months. What holes do yu have in your food storage plan? 

(My favorite food storage book: Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook by Peggy Layton.)

Gasoline can quickly disappear during a crisis. Check your vehicles' gas tanks at the moment. Are they full or near-full (good)? Or have you let them get down to near empty (bad)? Do you have any extra fuel safely stored for emergency use? How much? If you have a bug-out location, could you get there today without having to buy gas?

Do you have an alternative ( bug-out) location picked out if you must leave your home location for any reason during an emergency? Do you know how to get there without using GPS, google maps, or other internet-based resource? Do you know at least one alternative route to that location should the main route be blacked for some reason? Have you ore-positioned any supplies at your alternative location? 

If your plans include producing your own food, are you already doing so? Did you grow a garden, raise chickens, go hunting, or go fishing, last year? Do you plan on doing so in 2017? Do you already have seeds for this coming year? Do you already have the tools you need? What if a collapse happens before you get your garden planted this year, and you cannot buy what you need? 

Are your finances currently "in order?" How much credit card debt do you have? Do you have any auto-loans? Student loans? Other debt? Is your mortgage paid off? Are you spending less than you earn (are a saver), or more than you get (still in a debtor mentality)? Do you have an emergency fund? How many months worth of expenses is in your emergency savings account? Do you have any cash safely stored at home in case ATMs aren't working or their is a bank holiday declared? Do you have any savings in the form of tangibles (such as gold or silver)? Do you have possession of them (good), or are they stored for you by someone else (such as in  a bank safe-deposit box, or with a broker)? In a full collapse scenario, do you really think you can get a second-party to turn your gold or silver back over to you even if you have a certificate saying that you own it (answer: no)? 

(Please see my article Prepping 101: Finances - Get Back to Basics.)

Are you and your spouse in agreement on your preparedness plans? Do you agree on what to do, where to go, when to go, how to get there, in an emergency?

(Having trouble getting your spouse on board with prepping? Please see may article How To Talk To Non-Preppers Without Turning Them Off to Prepping.)

Do you have any "special needs" folks in your family/group? Special needs individuals include many more than just the physically or mentally handicapped, and includes babies, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, folks with chronic illnesses (high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, MS, MD, cancer, etc.), and folks with mental illness and addictions (including tobacco or alcohol). 

(Please see my article Special Needs Prepping.) 

Have you planned for your pets and any livestock in an emergency? Do you have food, water, medical supplies stored for them?If you have to "bug out," what happens to your animals? Will you take them with you? How?

What is your current state of health and physical fitness? What is the current health and physical fitness of all the other members of your family/group? When was the last time you had a health exam? A dental exam? An eye exam? Do you have any issues that need to be addressed at the moment, such as dental issues or new glasses, that you have been putting off? How far can you walk, carrying your bug-out-bag (BOB) or survival kit? Is that just a guess, or have you actually tried walking that distance recently? 

Have you made a list of the various skills of individual members of your family/group? What skills do you have covered by at least two members? What useful skills are missing from your group? Some of the many possible skills include leadership, advanced first aid, nursing, dental, and other medical, veterinary, auto mechanics, small engine repair, home repair/DIY skills, hunting, trapping, fishing, gardening, canning, sewing, animal husbandry, plumbing, woodworking, electrical work, carpentry, butchering (game & livestock), security/defense, ham radio operator, tinker (repair, sharpen, maintain knives & tools), and so forth...  Make a list of the skills you want your group to have, make an (honest) assessment of the current skills within the group, then start filling in holes by seeking training or additional group members.

These are just a few of many, many possible questions you can ask yourself and your family/group to assess your true state of preparedness for whatever difficult times that may be ahead. I hope this list helps you get started an a through assessment of your plans.

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