By Capt. William E. Simpson
If you’re busy ‘living’ your life, it’s impossible to read the thousands of articles about disaster preparedness. And the truth be known, I think we all get weary of reading the constant debates over how many cans or bags of beans we need to stockpile, or which survival knife is best, or which backpack is best, and so forth. The key is simple; have the basics; something to work with is better than nothing.
I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but alas, when people approach the subject of disaster preparedness, many shy away because it can seem like it’s an overwhelming subject, especially to newcomers who sometimes comment ‘there’s so much to learn and do, how can I ever become really prepared’. Here again, if the truth be known, very few people are actually totally prepared, regardless of how much training or experience you have. Training and experience will enhance the odds of survival, but even so, there are scenarios that can come along that will be unexpected. However, if you have some basic supplies, some ingenuity and a little horse-sense, you have a fighting chance in a serious disaster.
The good news is that; even if you’re really busy like most people, you don’t have to abandon the notion of having a disaster preparedness plan all-together. It’s important to keep in mind that even a basic plan is far better than no plan!
Just keep it simple and that alone keeps the time required and costs ($$) down to a minimum. Of course there are some people who enjoy honing their skills and have the time and money to put together a Master-Prepper disaster preparedness plan with all the trimmings. We sometimes read about these folks or see them and their extensive preparations on TV. Don’t let this dishearten you from your own efforts. Just do what you can reasonably do, and that will certainly be a lot better than nothing.
1. Just by living in the country (low population density as compared to available resources), you start-out far better-off than people living in the city. People who are trying to be prepared and who live in the cities require a far more exhaustive disaster preparedness plan as a result of the complexities that result from almost any form of disaster that may strike a city , especially a large-scale disaster.
2. Water: All things being equal, this is the single most important asset during a disaster. Make sure you have a ‘source’ (reliable ongoing supply) of water if at all possible as opposed to solely depending upon a limited quantity of stored water. Nonetheless, make sure that you have plenty of water stashed where it’s safe and where you can get to it. I like to plan 2-gallons of H2O per day, per person.
3. Food: The best foods in any disaster are those that you can eat with little or no preparation (no preparation is best). If you are living in a city and will likely have to ‘bug-out’ in some disaster scenarios, then the weight of food is an issue, especially if you’re on foot. Any decent dehydrated foods that can be reconstituted with water will serve the need until you can reach a more stable sustainable living situation. If you’re wise, you’ll also have 72 hours-worth of supplies in your vehicle as well.
If you are in the country, the weight of survival foods probably isn’t a problem since you will likely be able to stay where you are (but you should still have a bug-out pack/bag). In this case, people should store foods in locations that are resistant to fire, flood and discovery by others. Underground storage in a dry root or storm cellar, or similar location provides a secure stockpile (such locations must be elevated in areas where the flood plain is relevant). In such locations, canned (glass and tinned) goods are in their element. Stockpile foods you like to eat and that you are familiar with. What good are new foods that don’t agree with you? Stick with tried and true foods for your homestead stockpile. Having an un-happy stomach during a crises is not good!
1. Shelter: We all realize that we need to maintain our body temperatures within our comfort levels. If you suddenly find yourself outside because you had to evacuate from a city, then your ‘shelter’ may be your clothing, and possibly a parka, space-blanket, a tent or a vehicle. In the case of the folks already located in the country, in most cases they will have a suitable permanent shelter as well as suitable all-season clothing.
2. Personal Items: If you’re in the city, keep it simple! In a disaster you’re not going to be able to get far during an evacuation with 50 pounds of stuff strapped to your back, unless you’re a U.S. Marine just back from deployment or training. Most civilians will be better-suited with a 20-30 pound pack or bug-out bag. It doesn’t sound like much weight, but trust me when I say, after hoofing-it down the road for 10 miles, you’ll wish it was half of that weight. FEMA says keep 72 hours of supplies in your home or apartment. I say, you need a lot more than that in your home or apartment; try two-weeks worth as a minimum. That said, I like to keep 72 hours worth of supplies in my vehicle!
Some Basics Include:
- Any medicines you need to take regularly, as well as a small ‘professionally assembled’ first-aid kit (available from medical supply companies, etc.). Unless you’re a physician or trauma nurse, don’t try to build your own first-aid kit.
- Any good multi-tool; it will have a knife, pliers, file, can-opener, screw drivers, etc.
- Any good water-proof LED flashlight with extra batteries.
- A LifeStraw, water-bottle or canteen and water purification tablets.
- A length of rope (say 25’ of 3/8 inch) and 50 feet of paracord.
- A fire-starter (striker), box of water-proof matches.
- A waterproof handheld multi-band transceiver radio with extra batteries.
- On word on batteries: Try to buy devices (flashlight/radio) that use the same size battery cells. If you do this, you can buy rechargeable batteries and a solar battery charger (compact, lightweight cost-effective).
- Compass, whistle, mirror, sewing kit, extra glasses (if you need them to see), complete change of underwear, 3-disposable dust masks.
A Word On Guns: I am a staunch supporter of the Constitutional Rights of Americans, including the rights of citizens under the 2nd Amendment. That said, guns really have little utility (pound for pound of weight) during a disaster as compared to other items with much higher utility. This is especially true with heavy assault weapons and the required ammunition.
Some people who seem to have adopted combat oriented disaster preparedness plans have forgotten the golden rule: You increase your odds of getting dead if you engage in armed combat. It’s far superior to use tactics to avoid conflict and live.
That said, if you must have a gun and you can afford the extra weight of a single gun and ammo, then a .22 caliber takedown rifle  is adequate for obtaining game and as a last resort in self-defense.
FEMA has an added list  of items to consider.
If you are still unsure as to the reasoning and logic behind having a disaster preparedness plan of some kind, may I suggest that you simply Google: ‘recent and historical disasters in America’. It makes for a compelling debate in favor!
Cheers! Capt. Bill