Below are five things that you can do to become better prepared. You might have some or all of these things already in place. If that’s the case, good for you! If not, pick one of the following and work towards it.
Develop a Communication Plan
Getting in touch with your loved ones in an emergency, to make sure everyone is alright, is of the utmost importance. However, in an emergency, cell phone traffic can be blocked or over-loaded. Landlines can become over-loaded as well. So, what are your options?
Texting uses far less bandwidth and can sometimes get through when a regular call would not. If you have a smart phone, you could update your status on social media or send an e-mail. Another good option is to have a long distance contact. In an emergency, if your family is separated, everyone would call this long distance contact to check in. The reason for this is that while the local lines may be bogged down, sometimes the long distance lines work and a call can go through.
I also highly recommend that you have a hard copy of all important phone numbers that are stored in your cell phone. You never know when your battery will die or you’ll lose your phone. I covered this in more detail in Low Tech Data Storage. I also covered a couple ways of simple encryption you can use to protect that data in Secure Your Personal Data with Low Tech Cryptology.
Know your weaknesses and how to mitigate them
This is possibly the most important thing you can do, both for your person and for your location. In Preparing for Physical Limitations, I cover how to examine your health and find ways to mitigate potential or existing dangers. I gave the example of my leg. Right now, if I had to bug out, my leg couldn’t go for very long. I have devised some ways to make it less of a possible liability to me.
In How to do a Threat Assessment, I explain how to discover potential or existing threats in your home, in your neighborhood and in your general area. I also explain that you should do this for your bug out routes.
Be prepared to shelter in place
I believe that in the vast majority of situations, battening down (bugging in, staying home) is the best choice. You should be prepared to support you and your family, including pets, for an absolute minimum of seven days. I do think you should be able to do so for longer, but if you don’t have enough supplies right now, make seven days your temporary goal. This means food, water, medicines, proper shelter (heat if cold out), security for each member of your family and, again, pets.
Have a bug out plan including a kit
As I said, in the vast majority of situations, battening down is a better idea. Mr. Murphy (Murphy’s Law) and his cousin Mr. Dirtbag can sometimes make it safer to leave home. For this reason you should have a BOB (Bug Out Bag)BOB (Bug Out Bag) stocked with seasonal clothes. If you do not have a BOL (Bug Out Location) I explain in Bugging Out or Battening Down? how you can pick four, one for each direction away from your home. When it is actively hitting the fan is not the time to figure out where to go and how to get there. Do this now. Pick a spot with multiple routes.
Know where you can get water and how to purify it
Aside from oxygen, water is the most important thing to human life. Don’t take your tap, the grocery store or anywhere else you buy your water, for granted. Identify the closest place you can get water. Also know how to purify it. If you do not have a water source nearby then you might consider storing more.
If you do these five things you will be further along the path to taking care of your family in an emergency situation.