by A Different Drummer
This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest
There are many aspects of personal preparedness that make sense, and I know firsthand that once you take a trip down the rabbit hole, the path to preparedness can be daunting at best, if not completely overwhelming. To this overwhelming state of mind, I wish to remind everyone that you must walk before you can run. I know it sounds obvious, but once you start “waking up” to the real world we find ourselves in many are drawn into panic because there is so much to do and seemingly so little time.
Where to start? What’s most important? Bug out bags? Food storage? Water purification? HAM radio? Alternative energy systems? Defense “tools”? The list of needs in a SHTF situation is staggering. However, I believe that while all those things (and more) are important, maybe even essential given the scenario, what I see most overlooked is just good ol’ common sense personal safety in the home.
For example, are you aware that in 2014 there were over 1.2 million fires reported in the U.S. alone? Those fires led to 3,275 civilian deaths and over 15,000 civilian injuries. In other words, the S hit the fan for close to 20,000 people that year, from house fires. Not financial collapse, CME/EMP or the New World Order, house fires. Just think about that for a minute and let it sink in…
When is the last time you checked your smoke detectors? Not only do they need to be checked routinely for battery replacement, but smoke detectors also have expiration dates. This is something most people aren’t aware of. If you haven’t checked yours in a while, do it today.
Now let me ask you, where are your fire extinguishers? Do you know off the top of your head or do you need to think about it for a second? Can you easily grab one, or is it behind a bunch of stuff that will need to be knocked out of the way? Do your spouse and/or children know where the fire extinguishers are located? Do they know how to use one if necessary or when NOT to use them? When is the last time you checked the extinguisher to see if it is still good? Some extinguishers are disposable and have expiration dates; others can be serviced and can last for years.
Have you made a family/household evacuation plan? If so, have you ever practiced it? Nothing can make a minor emergency spiral out of control faster than not knowing what to do in said emergency. Everyone needs to know at least two ways to get out of the home and where to go once they’re out. I’m not talking about “bugging out”; I’m talking about evacuating your house due to fire, earthquake, tornado, etc. You’ve made it out of your home, but the street is blocked off, there are emergency vehicles everywhere, maybe news vans and reporters and of course the curious neighbors and passers-by. Where do you go? How do your kids find you if this happens while they are away from the house and the LEO blocking the road won’t let them through? At the very least you should practice your evacuation plan at least once a year. The more you practice, the more your response becomes automatic. And besides, things change. Another example; my family’s “muster point” should we need to evacuate is in a little courtyard at a small shopping center down the block. This worked great for 10 years, until suddenly the courtyard was fenced off completely for construction and was off limits for a year… It’s important to keep things up to date and even better to have a Plan B, just in case.
Aside from the obvious hazard of a house fire, it’s important to prepare yourself, your family and your home for the type of natural disasters most likely in your area. For me its earthquakes, so keeping tall shelves bolted to the walls and keeping a wrench handy to shut off the natural gas valve are some simple, inexpensive preps I can do to help mitigate risk. Maybe you live in a hurricane zone, so having pre-cut (and labeled!) plywood sheets for your windows would be a simple, low cost prep that will save you time, energy and further damage when the storms come.
My point is this, we all live with danger, every day of our lives. There are many things we can do to lower our risk and shorten recovery time, but you have to identify them ahead of time. That is why we all participate in this thing called preparedness! Sure, smoke detectors aren’t exciting and nobody is going to care about the picture you posted of your freshly serviced fire extinguishers in the survival forums, but these are simple things that will most likely do more to save your life and the lives of those you care about than the latest tactical gear.
It’s easy to get caught up with the preparedness “stuff”, I know because I’m guilty of it too. And I’m not saying the gear and the long term storage foods and all those other goodies aren’t great to have around. I’m a firm believer in the better-to-have-it-and-not-need-it-than-need-it-and-not-have-it camp but the fact of the matter is that you and your loved ones are far more likely to face a house fire, a natural disaster or some other mundane crisis than you will need to grab your B.O.B. and your AR-15 and head off into the great unknown to fight the Illuminati.
If you’re one of the newly awakened, take a step back, a deep breath and ask yourself “what type of disaster is the most likely to happen to ME?” and go from there. Apply a little common sense and get your house in order before you spend all your time and resources on the survival toys that so many crow about. After all, nothing is going to ruin your day more than having all your hard earned preps lost forever for want of a $6 smoke detector. It’s often said that skills trump gear nearly every time and I believe that. I also believe that critical thinking is a skill and one that is under used by many. If you really think about it, I believe you will agree that preparing your home for the everyday, common emergency will give you a much better chance of survival in the long run than say, another hank of paracord or the latest and greatest gadget to show up on the magazine covers.
Prepare smart, with serious consideration for your location and personal needs and before long the overwhelming panic will subside. And once you got your home base covered, you’ll be ready to move on to your next preparedness phase with a clear head.
Prizes For This Round (Ends April 12, 2016) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…
- First place winner will receive – A gift certificate for $150 off of rifle ammo at Lucky Gunner, an Urban Survival Kit a $109 value courtesy of TEOTWAWKI supplies, a WonderMix Deluxe Kitchen Mixer a $299 value courtesy of Kodiak Health and a LifeStraw Mission Filter a $109 value courtesy of EarthEasy, and a 4″ Heavy Duty WaterBoy Well Bucket a $106 value and a WaterBoy Tripod Kit courtesy of Well WaterBoy Products for a total prize value of over $867.
- Second Place Winner will receive – 30 Day Food Storage All-in-One Pail a $119 value courtesy of Augason Farms.com and Berkey Light with 2 (9″) Berkey Earth Elements a $157 value courtesy of LPC Survival, for a total prize value of $276.
- Third place winner will receive – International MRE Meals Supply a $72.00 value, a LifeStraw Portable Water Filter a $19 value, Yoder’s Fully Cooked Canned Bacon a $15 value all courtesy of CampingSurvival and one copy of each of my books “The Prepper’s Primer” and a copy of “The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook“ for a total prize value of $137.