Be Prepared

When I was in school I was a Boy Scout, and while I never rose as far as I would have liked to (I made First Class), the principles of Scouting have stayed with me all these years. By far the best thing I learned was to live the Scout Motto, Be Prepared. Today, there are countless expressions of this concept, from Colonel Cooper’s color code, to the OODA Loop.

This is the fist in a series of postings where I plan to talk about emergency planning and what I have done. I don’t pretend that my way of planning is the only way or the best. It’s just what I have done. But I hope you can learn from it.

First, I sat down and made a list of the kinds of emergencies that my family and I could face. This was a brainstorming session, and I didn’t question the probability of any event at this time. Yes, the list was extensive, and it includes black holes and alien invasion. To me it was important to consider the larger emergencies, because when you really think about them, a lot of the preparations you make for more intimate events like a fire or home invasion would be the same you would make for them.

My wife and I then picked the most likely events, and the easiest preparations, and made our plan. We’ve been at the plan for a few years, and we are steadily making progress. Here are some of the low hanging fruit, as it were, that we found we could do right away.

Make a printed telephone list. We found that we were all relying on our cell phone address books for contact information, but, if we lost our cell phones in an emergency, that information is lost, too.

Make sure there is a family member or friend outside your immediate area who will agree to be a contact for everyone, if necessary. This came from some reports during Katrina and other emergencies, where local communications were impossible, but where people could call or email someone outside the affected area.

Make sure you have a texting plan on your cell phones. This is because text messages are sent by a different method than cell phone calls, using the carrier signal that the cell phone tower uses to keep track of where your phone is. Even if the all cell phone circuits are busy in an emergency, it may be possible to send short text messages. Make sure everyone knows short messages they can send quickly.

Make sure your guns are locked up away from any children. They should not only be out of reach, but out of the prying eyes. Our kids never knew where I kept our pistol safe until they were old enough and they were trained how to use them. Make sure all the responsible adults in your household are trained, and know how to access them.

Practice. Just as you should have fire drills, practice other kinds of drills – tornado drills, earthquake drills, home invasion drills. When you are out in public, always stay alert (Cooper’s Condition Yellow at a minimum), and practice finding the quickest path to safety.