Building a 30-day Preparedness Plan

Creating a common-sense plan for surviving and thriving when the unexpected occurs

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In the not-too-distant past, most people were prepared for the unexpected. Our grandparents and those like them had food stored in case of storms or blizzards. They had money saved (actual money – not just room on their credit cards) in case of a job loss or financial emergency. They had real skills, like cooking, gardening, sewing, and mechanical ability, to take care of themselves. And they built a real sense of community through neighborhood groups, churches, and social organizations, allowing them to come together in the face of any crisis.

We’ve come a long way since then – and not in a good way. Our supply chains for food, fuel, and other needs is incredibly fragile, with many retailers now operating on a “just in time” inventory model that can see their shelves emptied in hours during a crisis. Few people have any money set aside: A recent survey found that 63% of Americans didn’t have enough in savings to cover a $500 emergency expense. And I don’t think anyone would argue with the fact that we have fewer skills, and less a sense of community, than our parents or grandparents.

The scary thing is, we’re completely unprepared for the unexpected at a time when the unexpected is practically guaranteed to happen! It wouldn’t take much for our fragile system to crack in some way for example: Our entire economy runs on debt and credit, and if there was a sudden financial event, such as a market crash or an extended bank holiday, or riots caused by the loss of welfare benefits for those in need, we’re all going to find ourselves on unfamiliar ground.

Maybe you’re not concerned about a financial crisis. Well, guess what? Other crises happen all the time. Suppose you’re stranded by an ice storm and the power goes out for a few days? Suppose that once-in-a-century hurricane or tornado hits your area? Ask the people in New Orleans if they wish they had been better prepared for Hurricane Katrina. Ask the people in New York and New Jersey if they regret not being ready for Hurricane Sandy.

I don’t know what the risk of any of these events is – maybe it’s 1%, maybe it’s 50%. But I know it’s not zero. So it makes sense to at least think about what you should do if something happens, and ideally do some work now to prepare for that possibility. That’s what this guide is for.

This guide is intended to provide people new to the issue with the essentials topics and a simple strategy for addressing each one. You’ll learn about the critical issues involved and get practical guidance and checklists to help you prepare for a limited number of scenarios.

In the following pages, we’ll look at each of the following topics in turn, discussing key considerations and offering guidance on handling a short-term crisis:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Heat
  • Shelter
  • Power
  • Security
  • Financial
  • Medical
  • Communication
  • Hygiene and Sanitation
  • Entertainment

We’ll also cover critical questions you may face, including whether you should stay where you are or leave (which some call “bugging out”) and how you might build an active community response which will make it easier to address your challenges.