If you pay any attention to the state of affairs in our world, it’s easy to see that there is danger around every corner and sometimes right in your own home. There’s really no way to avoid every single dangerous situation.
Emergencies just happen, and to make matters worse, they are so often completely unpredictable. In the case of natural disasters, you may get some advanced warning but are often at the mercy of the weather for your geographic area. Most criminal and terrorist acts are random, without any way to predict them for certain in advance. You have to be ready at all times for whatever comes.
So, if you’ve decided to be more prepared for emergencies and recently discovered the prepping lifestyle, you are likely feeling a bit overwhelmed. In this article, we’re going to outline how to make a basic emergency plan that will keep you and your family safer in dangerous emergency situations.
Most people believe it’s their job to protect their loved ones from danger in the world, right? And of course that’s true. Every person wants their family to be safe, so it IS our job to keep our family safe. But what many people don’t realize is that there’s a difference between protecting your family FROM danger and preparing them FOR danger.
Similar to the feed a man a fish versus teach a man to fish adage, if your family never knows danger, they will always need you or someone else to protect them from it. In today’s world it’s simply impossible for you to be there 24/7 to keep your family away from danger. You must prepare your family for danger in order to keep them safe.
So, the new adage is… if you protect your family from danger, they are safer for today, if you prepare your family for danger, they are safer the rest of their lives.
When you think of it this way, it’s easy to see that preparing is more desirable than protecting. The first step in preparing yourself or your family for danger is to make a basic emergency plan. If you’re overwhelmed with all that prepping entails, a basic emergency plan can definitely help. So, that’s what we’re going to outline for you today.
One thing to keep in mind is that a good emergency plan combines knowledge, skills, and action/practice for each area. In most cases, you will gain the knowledge of a topic, then learn the skills related to that topic, and then take action or practice those skills until you master them.
Step One: Threat Inventory
One of the first things to do when making a basic emergency plan is to figure out the dangers you are most likely to face. Your specific threat inventory will largely depend on your geographic location (climate and terrain), your neighborhood (population density, crime, etc.), and your lifestyle (budget, special needs, family size, etc).
Start by making a list of all the dangers or threats that you can think of. It should be a long list and it should be based on statistics from your local area as well as what you or others have experienced in the area. Consider natural disasters, terrorist acts or looting, other recent criminal activity in your area, potential personal emergencies, etc. Below are just some examples to consider in each category:
- Home Invasion
- Terrorist Acts
- Identity Theft/Fraud
- Unexpected Job Loss and other Unexpected Events
- Accidental Injury
- Motor Vehicle Accident (car, motorcycle, ATV, tractor/mower)
- Boating Accident
- Extended Illness
Once you have a good list of the potential threats that you will face, prioritize them with the most likely to happen at the top of the list. As you create the rest of your emergency plan, you will keep the top 5 to 10 most likely threats in mind.
Once you’ve prepared adequately for those top 10 threats, you can add anything you would need to be prepared for the additional threats.
Parts of a Basic Emergency Plan
Emergencies, while unexpected often require short term resources. When preparing a stockpile for emergencies, focus on enough supplies for 24 hours without access to government or retail sources. Once you have sufficient supplies for 24 hours, then stockpile for 3 days, extend it to 1 week, then for 3 weeks and so on.
Most experts agree that 3 weeks of stockpiled supplies is sufficient for most emergencies. We’re not talking SHTF preps here, just short term emergencies like a natural disaster or extended power outage.
The survival rule of three dictates that the average person can only survive about 3 hours without shelter from the elements, especially in extreme weather. Shelter is a critical resource and preparing for shelter should be a big part of your emergency planning. When it comes to shelter, you can either bug in or bug out.
Bugging in means you stay in your existing home or location and ride out the danger there. Bugging out means you evacuate to a new location which in most cases is outside your immediate area or in some way more secure than staying in your home.
Your emergency plan should detail your procedures for securing your existing home in an emergency and for bugging out to an alternate location. All family members should be aware of shelter planning.
Take stock of your current shelter situation. What can you improve? Look for ways to reinforce your existing shelter so it will withstand a natural disaster or another emergency.
Identify safest rooms for each type of natural disaster so family is clear on where to take shelter within the house if a tornado, earthquake, or home invasion occurs. Reinforce windows and doors and if feasible make or buy protective shutters for windows and points of entry.
Reinforce your garage door and consider creating an actual reinforced safe room within your home.
Bug Out Location
The safest option for most families is to stay put during an emergency. But there are some natural disasters, such as flooding or wildfires, which will require you to leave your home in order to stay safe.
For these types of emergencies, when it’s safer if you leave your home, make sure you can access temporary shelter with friends or family out of the area or in a community shelter if other options fail.
The best laid plans can go awry, especially in an emergency situation. Make sure that you can build emergency shelter, from found materials, if necessary.
Test Your Emergency Plan
One activity that can help you identify what additional supplies are needed in your stockpile and how prepared you are for emergencies is to turn off the utilities to your home temporarily, for 24 hours or even for a weekend.
Try to go the entire period without using public utilities or going to the store. Make a list of anything that you didn’t stockpile that would have been nice to have and make note of anything that went wrong that you didn’t expect. Use your notes to improve your emergency plan.
You should also test your bug out plan, including loading supplies and family members into your vehicle and driving to your desired location. Take notes on anything that goes wrong or that you think of that could happen in a real emergency and then plan accordingly.
Similar to the show “What Would You Do?” you may even want to go so far as to have someone try to get into your home uninvited or try to take your child from a park or another public location.
You’ll want to set some boundaries for your “intruder” so as not to actually do damage to your home or to your child. But see if someone can get inside your home or convince your child to go with them.
Do your kids just let people into the house without checking with you first? Perhaps they gave out the code to your garage door or alarm system to friends or neighbors that are no longer friendly? Will your kids notice someone following them? Do they know what ACTION to take to stay safe?
Other Things to Consider
The one thing that many people often neglect to plan for in an emergency situation is sanitation. We take our flush toilets, running water, and garbage pickup service for granted.
For many of us, and for our children, we’ve never had to live without these necessities. But in an emergency situation that knocks out public utility services, sanitation will quickly become a top priority. Those that have planned for proper sanitation will be better able to keep their home disease free.
It’s a good idea to learn how to flush your toilet without running water as this could work for awhile. It’s also good to plan for a source of water that will be available even if public water is not. This can be rainwater catchment of even jugs of tap water that you stockpile under the bathroom sink, solely for use in flushing the toilet in case of emergency.
As we mentioned above, there will be times when staying in your home may not be the safest option. If you are required to evacuate, will you go? What factors will you take into consideration before making a decision to evacuate temporarily?
How will family members who aren’t at home know where to meet? Make sure to consider what different needs you may have in the categories below:
- Supplies (make sure they are lightweight, portable, and can be loaded quickly)
- Transportation (keep gas tank full, perform regular vehicle maintenance, etc.)
- Gear & equipment (portable radio, gas mask, bug out location or directions to shelter locations, emergency contact info, etc.)
Another of the services many of us take for granted is our communication network. We have come to rely so much on landlines, cell phones, texting, GPS, and internet service, it’s hard to imagine a life without.
- Do you know the phone numbers and addresses or directions for family and friends?
- Does your family know what to do in case of a house fire or other unsafe condition in your home?
- Are you familiar with how to navigate using a paper map and do you have maps for your county and state?
- Could you get to your bug out or a relative’s location without internet directions or GPS?
- Do you have a reliable weather radio that will provide you with news, weather, and emergency services updates if power is out and internet is down?
- If your loved one is away from home when an emergency occurs, how will you communicate with them to know they are safe?
Most people learn how to make a basic emergency plan because they want to keep themselves and their family safe in an emergency situation. The unfortunate truth is that emergencies can happen anytime and anywhere.
You could be at home, but you may also be at work, school, or even the grocery store. Family members could be separated when a natural disaster strikes. For this reason, every member of your family who is able, needs to learn defense strategies and techniques including personal self defense, home defense, and even neighborhood defense.
Start with basic self defense, and gradually include skills and weapons (firearms, non-lethal weapons) needed to defend other loved ones, your house, your property perimeter, etc.
Does your family have a basic emergency plan? When was the last time you all sat down to review it together? Have you actually practiced any of the procedures outlined in your plan? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below. The time to practice is before you have to rely on the plan to save your life or the life of your family.