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Creating an emergency preparedness plan for your family may be the most important thing you can do to prepare for the worst of times. Let’s break down a family emergency preparedness plan and help you create one so you can be ready for any emergency.

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Understanding the Basics of A Family Emergency Preparedness Plan

  • Introduction: This family emergency preparedness plan outline introduces you to the knowledge and skills needed to effectively prepare yourself and family for a wide range of emergencies, from natural disasters to civil unrest. These are the concepts to create thorough emergency plans, assemble essential supplies, and develop the resilience necessary to navigate challenging situations.
  • Creating emergency plans/actions: Creating a plan of action for your family’s response to different emergencies is imperative. Additionally, having contingency plans in place is essential to reacting to dynamic threats, risks, and emergencies.
  • Assessing family member needs and limitations: Knowing your family members limitations, and potentially addressing them ahead of time, is crucial to their safety. This includes medical, physical, emotional, mental, and psychological limitations.
  • Gathering supplies and gaining specific preparedness skills: Take the time to store up essential gear and consumables that you need to survive. How long can you survive without going to the store?
  • Exploring psychological and emotional preparedness: This will be the determining factor in an emergency. If you aren’t prepared, you will get stuck in the “shock phase” for longer than necessary. This is a critical step in a family emergency preparedness plan.

Creating a Family Emergency Preparedness Plan

  • Assessing the needs and abilities of family members: Address pertinent needs for family members to increase your chances of safety.
    • Medical needs are particularly important. Are they limited by medications or other medical restraints? Make plans that include these hurdles and collect any needed meds/supplies.
    • Physical limitations: Are they young? Handicapped? Injured? Overweight? Unable to move/carry supplies for extended periods of time? Address these in your planning to accommodate for these limitations. Collect any needed supplies for mobility and take preventive measures ahead of time. Encourage everyone to get in shape to increase chances of survival/safety. Collect any supplies needed for little ones.
    • Psychological/mental/emotional limitations: In a true emergency there is a stage of panic/fear that everyone must overcome. It is shorter and less intense for some and it is insurmountable to others. Being prepared to handle crisis beforehand drastically aids in being ready for this. Talk about these things with family members ahead of time. These hard conversations ahead of time may just save someone’s life.
  • Identifying potential threats and risks in your region: Learn to identify risks specific in your area.
    • In earthquake-prone regions, securing heavy furniture in your home and knowing safe spots to take cover are crucial.
    • In flood-prone areas, understanding evacuation routes and assembling a waterproof emergency kit becomes vital.
    • Wild fire areas require proper fire prevention techniques and an evacuation plan.
    • Densely populated areas, like major cities, require a rapid escape plan and preparedness to deal with desperate people in potential panic. Civil unrest is also a major threat to these areas so planning to either bug out before anything happens, move out of the city altogether or plan to survive in the city during SHTF or a disaster.
    • Be aware of the most common threats/risks to your area and base most of your emergency preparedness planning around them. Although, all types of disasters are possible everywhere so it is important to not fixate on one type of emergency
  • Establishing meeting points and evacuation routes: There is a high chance of needing to evacuate in an emergency. It is important to establish locations that would be deemed safe to meet your group in certain scenarios and if you are separated.
    • Where will all your family members most likely be in the event of a disaster? Most of us are gone most of the day i.e., school or work. Plan accordingly.
    • If you had to evacuate/bug out where and who would you meet up with? Have multiple safe meeting locations and establish them in order of priority. For example; first place is a friends/relative’s house but it is inaccessible so the second location is a nearby church or a school.
    • Are you away from your loved ones for the majority of your day-to-day? If you have a safe location, what is the safest route? Fastest route? Alternate routes? Since you know where you will be most of the time, become familiar with and plan different routes to your chosen safe locations. Choose routes for driving and by foot.
  • Developing communication strategies during emergencies:
    • What are you going to depend on for comms in an emergency? Cell service, radio, satellite options? Your budget and knowledge will determine what you decide to have.
    • Do you have backup means of communication if/when cell service went down?
    • Have pertinent phone numbers memorized and written down for all members to have access to. Who would you need to contact in a true emergency and how would you do it?
    • Consider having radios, satellite phones or other means of communication on hand if you can afford them. Even just walkie talkies for family members can be useful in certain scenarios at short distances.
    • Have a plan in place for all family members to be able to communicate with each other for both on and off grid scenarios. This can be a predetermined plan if you do not have a means of communicating during an event. Setting a meeting point is a form of communication that you should have in place regardless.

Sheltering, Traveling and Evacuation

  • Shelter options for different scenarios: stay, go, or relocate:
    • Stay/Bug In: This option is most likely your best bet unless it is not an option due to numerous circumstances. At home you have access to everything you would in normal life and obviously has the highest levels of comfort and chances of survival for you and your family. Only leave if it is truly necessary and you have no other choice.
    • Go/Bug Out: Your chances of survival and your safety drastically drop when you decide to leave home in an apocalyptic scenario and disaster alike. However, it may be necessary to leave under certain circumstances. This is why having prepared kits and supplies ready to go is so important. This is where emergency preparedness planning becomes increasingly important and having a plan on where to go, how to get there and who is going is essential.
  • Evacuation planning and vehicle preparedness:
    • If you need to evacuate or bug out then you will most likely do so by vehicle. Having your vehicle ready to go and staged for an emergency is a smart idea. You can store certain supplies inside and it can be a shelter in a pinch. Keep all fluids topped off and store it with useful tools.
    • There is a very high possibility that your vehicle will be damaged, the roads rendered impassable or conditions will not allow for traveling by vehicle. If this is the case and you truly need to evacuate/bug out, then you will be exposed to the elements and danger. I consider this a last resort scenario and one of the worst positions to be in.
  • Securing your home and property during prolonged absence:
    • This will be scenario dependent, however securing your home and property is a crucial step to take when leaving for a prolonged period. The elements, wildlife and looters are real threats to what is yours once you leave during a disaster. Boarding up windows and doors, securing left behind assets and taking other measures to protect your home should be considered if the time allows.
  • First Responders/Government Response:
    • In common emergencies like wildfires, floods, hurricanes, etc. first responders will be on the scene to do their job and help where necessary. In many cases following their orders and guidelines are the best choice to make. Evacuation orders and closed roadways are usually done for your safety. However, use your instincts and do what is necessary to protect yourself and your family.

Building Essential Emergency Kits

Common types of kits: Bug out bags, get-home bags, 72-hour kits, etc. There are countless names for some of the different emergency preparedness bags/kits.

  • Create a 72-hour emergency kit for each family member:
    • To be the most prepared, each person should have enough food, water and supplies to sustain them individually. This kit should be assembled into a single set up that the individual can carry on their own unless there are certain limitations. Learn more about building a bug out bag here.
    • Create a “get home” bag. Put in it any supplies you would need to be able to get home to your family when you’re away in any situation.
  • Include essential supplies:
    • Food: Non-perishable foods, emergency survival foods and MRE’s come to mind here.
    • Water: Stored water, water filters and water purification tablets should all be in your kit.
    • Medical supplies: Standard first aid kit, trauma kit, and any pertinent medical supplies should all be together.
    • Tools: Multi tools, knives, and methods of protecting yourself and your family should be considered.
    • Sanitation/Comfort/Convenience items: These are things like toilet paper, soap, sunglasses, stuffed animals, nail clippers, and so on and so forth. These items matter most to small children and/or special needs individuals. Do not underestimate the power a little memento or trinket can have on your morale and mental well-being.
  • Special considerations for infants, elderly, and pets:
    • These individuals require special attention and needs. Be sure to pack all necessary items to keep them healthy and cared for. Having extras of the most important medical supplies is important as well.  

Preparing for Civil Unrest and Social Disruption

  • Recognizing signs of civil unrest and social instability: You could argue that everything we are experiencing today are the signs of coming civil unrest. Tune in to the news and everywhere you look there is some sort of protest, shooting or event involving large groups of people. Civil unrest on a mass scale will be hard to miss. Avoid large protests stay informed on events in your area.
  • Strategies for maintaining personal safety and security: The biggest thing you can do to secure your safety is to completely avoid large groups and highly populated areas. This includes living in the large cities but if you can’t help that then read this guide. If that is not an option, be prepared to bug out at first sign of a major collapse. Otherwise, avoid any large gatherings, protests, or meetings. Stay informed on current events near you.
  • Community engagement and cooperation during uncertain times: Not all people are out to seek trouble. Engaging with your community prior to any disaster is a good way to meet likeminded people and have help when things get tough. Look into local disaster preparedness programs like C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

First Aid and Medical Preparedness

First aid and medical care in an emergency or during a true collapse of society is not to be taken for granted. Odds are the hospital will either be full or unreachable in any major event. Having the supplies and the skills to provide certain medical care is essential.

  • Basic first aid skills and supplies for common injuries: Build or buy pre-assembled first aid kits for the whole family. The more supplies you have the better. These are consumable items. Invest in basic first aid/CPR training classes, they are invaluable skills to have.
  • Creating a family medical kit and administering essential care: As mentioned, have one (preferably multiple) large kit for your entire family/group that can provide care to each of its members. In addition to the universal supplies, have special additions for those with specific issues like allergies, special meds and so forth.
  • Trauma Kit: Take it a step further and build/buy an emergency trauma kit. This can control any major bleeding and injuries that may occur during an emergency. Keep in mind that proper training is required to know how to treat certain injuries. I carry a TFAK.
  • Understanding when and how to seek professional medical assistance: Professional medical help may be unavailable. Rule of thumb is to use your best judgement and seek professional help when it is truly necessary. Do not go for something that can be handled at home and congest emergency medical services in a disastrous event.

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Mental and Emotional Well-being in Crisis

The levels of stress you experience during an emergency are at an all-time high. Everyone handles this a little differently but managing fear, panic, stress, and your mental health prior to and during an emergency will make or break your survival in a true disaster.

  • Coping strategies for maintaining stress and mental and emotional health:
    • Stay informed but set limits on news consumption to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
    • Focus on the aspects you can control, like following your emergency plan and taking care of your family.
    • Stay connected with loved ones for emotional support and share your concerns openly.
    • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing to manage stress. Combat Breathing Exercise is breath in for 4 seconds, out for 4 seconds with pauses between each for 4 seconds.
    • Engage in activities that bring you joy, even in limited circumstances
  • Supporting family members during stressful situations: Support your loved ones by giving them the emotional support they need to press on. They will support you in times of weakness in return.
    • Begin by fostering open communication, allowing each family member to share their feelings and concerns.
    • Show appreciation for each other’s efforts and strengths. This boosts everyone’s confidence.
    • Reassure your family with clear information about the situation and your emergency plan.
  • Cultivating a sense of morale and support: Boosting morale for you family/group is paramount to accomplishing the goal at hand.
    • Emphasize unity and teamwork, highlighting that you’re all in it together.
    • Establish routines and engage in activities that offer a sense of normalcy, even if it’s a simple board game or storytelling.
    • Encourage acts of kindness and helping one another, creating a strong support system.
  • Building mental toughness and resilience in yourself and others:
    • Demonstrating calmness and confidence in your actions can provide a reassuring example.
    • Expose yourself to disasters and hardship to build resilience to it. No don’t go looking for danger but read books and watch films on survival and emergency preparedness to become familiar with the things you will have to overcome.
    • Have the hard conversation early. By talking about the things people don’t usually want to hear, you expose them to sensitive scenarios earlier and it will help them to work through the emotional hardship more easily.
    • Lead with strength and set the example.

Long-term Sustainability and Self-sufficiency

A long-term sustainability plan is what prepping is all about. Here are some of the basic concepts to think about:

  • Building resilience through gardening, food storage, and water purification: Begin with small manageable steps.
    • Gardening: Start by selecting a sunny spot in your yard or even use containers if space is limited. Research and choose plants that are well-suited to your region and climate. Consider easy-to-grow vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs. Begin with a few plants and gradually expand as you gain confidence.
    • Food Storage: Organize your pantry with non-perishable items like canned goods, pasta, rice, and dried beans. Rotate these items regularly to ensure they stay fresh. Invest in some airtight containers to store grains and cereals properly. Invest in pre-made emergency survival buckets. Nutrient Survival is a great option. You’ll get 15% off with my code “STRENGTH15”.
  • Water Collection/Purification: Invest in a reliable water filter and purification tablets. If you’re looking for a more sustainable solution, explore rainwater harvesting techniques.
  • Exploring alternative energy sources: Seeking out methods of providing power may be attainable for you. Consider solar powered generators and solar panels if it makes sense to you.
  • Strengthening self-reliance to thrive during extended emergencies: Survival skills have been popularized in recent years and there is plenty you can learn for free online. Bushcraft, prepping and general survival skills will drastically increase your ability to survive long term.

Putting Preparedness into Practice

Put preparedness into practice by

  • Conducting regular emergency practice drills and scenario simulations: You can do this at home with your family or seek out local preparedness groups to participate with.
  • Review and update emergency plans and supplies: Events are fluid and always changing. That is why you must have multiple options and be adaptable in your plans. Review and update as circumstances change in your life.
  • Encouraging others to embrace preparedness and do so within their communities: The more people that are prepared for the worse, the better off that society will be in a disaster. Work with your local first responders, fire fighters, and law enforcement whenever possible and look into neighborhood watch or other preparedness programs like C.E.R.T.

Resources:

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