It is 9 pm, your family is settling into your home as the chaos begins to reign outside. The news had broadcast the imminent event and people scurried to stores, clearing shelves, and to gas stations emptying the local supply. Suddenly all are enveloped in an erie, dark silence as the power goes off. But you and your family are calm. You light candles and activate the next step of your preparedness plan because you knew that this day would come. You have food and water stocked, you double-check the ammunition supply and ensure your home is secured. Your neighbors are likewise prepared and suddenly your radio crackles alive from the surrounding block captains as people begin checking in. It will be your shift in a few hours to walk the streets if they are safe and assure you, your family and your neighborhood is secure. Is this how you would handle a crisis? If not, it is time to get ready.
With landfall of the massive storm dubbed “Sandy” on the eastern seaboard, it is certain that tens of millions of people are beginng to realize how serious of a disaster they have and how ill-prepared they are. It matters not what kind of event you may face. Whether the seasonal threat of the Florida Hurricane, the outbreak of a contagious disease like smallpox or SARS, major terrorist events or civil unrest flamed by the ranks of unctious agitators, you need to be prepared to care for yourself and your family first. Then you can be prepared to help your neighbor. This columnist spent six years serving on local, regional and national disaster preparedness boards and learned the most important lesson. The government can only do so much and in many cases will not be prepared to help you. In fact, they may institute actions that could cause more harm than good. For instance, in smallpox attack from terrorists, governments have decided it is illegal to prepare ahead of time with a voluntary individual smallpox vaccine. Yet they will force you into a public shelter with other smallpox victims if you are suspected of having the disease. Upon entering you will be forced to have the vaccine and no consideraiton will be given to your medical needs and the safety of that vaccine for you at that moment. The government has done well to prepare for hurricanes, but it only goes so far. If we had a major catastrophe, could you last for three days on your own? Do you have at least three days of food and water? Are you prepared to live without electricity. It is common for many areas to be out of electricity for several weeks after massive storms.
Like it or not, we also live in the age of terrorism. What if a major Electromagnetic Pulse device is used to disable our powergrid? If a small tactical nuclear device were detonated in Tampa, could you survive the fallout? The government used to have fallout shelters but those are all gone now since Federal funds dissappeared decades ago. The local governments have spent great deals of money on double-wide sidewalks, bike trails, massive employee benefits, but have done nothing to simply create a list of credible fallout shelters. They have done nearly nothing to educate people about how to be prepared for living without a reliabile food and water supply or electricity and running water for weeks.
There is a good solution for all of these problems: Be Prepared! Start stocking long term food storage. Start stocking water supplies. Learn how to cook without electricity and learn how to manage sanitation and hygiene without running water. Learn how to defend yourself and your family and be well armed so any looters or mobs go to the next neighborhood. Work with your neighbors to learn how to cordon off your streets from mobs if needed. Is your neighborhood ready with a disaster plan? Starting with a neighborhood plan for hurricanes is a great way to be prepared for other events. You can get instructions on neighborhood disaster planning through the State of Florida here.
If you have no disaster, your food supply will serve you well when inflation starts to hit our country in massive ways over the coming years as all the printed money from the Federal Reserve starts to flood into the economy. You will be able to eat pre-purchased food on the cheap while others pay $10 for a gallon of milk.
Luck does not favor the “lucky”, it favors the prepared. When you are prepared for predictable events, you and your family are better able to thrive and then help get the community back on its feet as rapidly as possible.