Here are some tips to help you figure out what you should so in an emergency, and what your priorities should be:
Follow the STOP plan: Stop. Think. Observe. Plan.
>>>Stop. Don't panic. Stay calm. Don't get overly emotional. Take a few deep breathes. Maybe even sit down if you need to. What happened, happened. Panic and overly-emotional reactions will only make matters worse.
>>>Think. Take a moment or two to consider your situation. Are you in immediate danger (e.g. your house is own fire)? Or, are you in a more drawn-out sort of danger (e.g. the economy just collapsed)? Either way, you need to make rational, well-thought out, decisions at this point.
>>>Observe. Look around. What is your situation. What are your immediate threats? Near-term threats? Long-term threats? Take stock of what resources you have available (knowledge, skills, supplies, tools, people, money, etc.).
>>>Plan. Decide how you are going to deal with the crisis. Make a plan, share your plan with others with you, and stick to the plan, making changes only in relation to changing circumstances. (Making unneeded or frequent changes only adds confusion and ensures that your group are NOT all on the same page.)
!!! Depending on the circumstances, you may have only seconds to do the above. Or you may have hours, days, or even longer. Do the best you can do in the time you have. Thinking through possible scenarios ahead of time helps.
Tip: Make sure everyone in your family or group is well-versed with the STOP plan. Practice it in various scenarios.
Know the priorities in any emergency:
1) Safety. Quickly remove yourself and others out of the path of immediate danger. If your house is on fire, your first priority is to get yourself and your family out of the house. If a riot or civil unrest is happening, get out of the area.Safety may also mean "bugging out" to a safer/better location during a time of political or economic turmoil.
2) Address any serious medical concerns. Here is the basic order of concern for most injuries:
- Make sure the person can breathe.
- Stop any major bleeding.
- Immobilize the neck/back if there is any possibility of injury to those regions.
- Treat shock, hypothermia, hyperthermia, and/or heart attack.
- Treat dehydration.
- Treat broken bones (immobilize/splint).
- Treat lesser injuries.
3) Shelter from the elements. This may mean a formal shelter, a tent or other temporary shelter, or just warm clothes, rain gear, and/or blanket.
4) Water. Clean water is a must in any situation, emergency or not.
5) Food. Last on the list, and likely unimportant in the short run. You can go longer without food than anything else on this list.
Important: Plan ahead and practice what to do in various scenarios. The more you practice, the more ingrained your responses will be. This practice will help you remain focused on what you need to do during an emergency. This is why schools hold fire drills, basketball players shoot free throws in practice, and nations hold war games.
This article replaces an article I wrote on this subject a few years ago.
ACEP First Aid Manual, 5th Edition - Everyone, prepper or not, should learn first aid. This first aid manual of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is much more up-to-date (2014) than the American Red Cross manual, which hasn't been updated since 1992.
326-Piece First Aid Kit for Home or Office - This is an affordable and fairly complete first aid kit that meets OSHA and ANSI guidelines. Compartmentalized and very well-organized so you don't waste much time hunting for what you need.