I believe this to be the primary foundational article required for effective and thorough preparedness planning.
These 12 crucial questions of preparedness planning are a result of an expansion and modification of questions given in The Essential Emergency Planning Guide for Food and Water. They apply to any preparedness planning scenario you believe to be appropriate. Answer them carefully – your safety, health (emotional and physical), peace of mind, and comfort depend on it.
Preparedness planning is fundamentally built on two principles – (1) developing a philosophical or personal worldview while evaluating and assessing the current state of affairs – (2) then developing a specific plan of action based upon your reflective conclusions, needs, and the physical conditions that you anticipate can occur.
Thank you for having made a wise and sound decision to take responsibility for you and your family to be prepared in the event of unforeseen circumstances. A proper attitude during the preparedness planning process is essential, and it is made more effective by exercising competent critical thinking skills. Reacting from a position of fear or confusion can be an obstacle to efficient planning. Please remember, when it comes to seeking reliable information and essential provisions for nourishment, health, and safety – ask: Who do you trust? and Why?
As you evaluate your answers to the following crucial questions and the circumstances for which you are preparing, there is another underlying issue to consider – cost verses quality. Are the equipment and supplies necessary to fulfill your needs going to be based on how cheap they are , or on the quality, value, and reliability of the product? What are the repercussions or benefits from the choices that are made? Who is affected? What chances are you willing to take with inferior and inadequate provisions? Answer these questions carefully – your safety, health (emotional and physical), peace of mind and comfort depend on it.
Food issues and questions are of special importance to me personally. When purchasing food provisions, especially pre-configured assortments, it is essential to know exactly the quantity of food you are getting for the price you are paying. “X” amount of servings, or “X month’s supply” doesn’t give you the accurate information you need for proper planning. You need to know the answer to these questions: What is the basis for the manufacturer’s claims? What is the nutritional value, quantity, and quality of food and the caloric value of each serving? “X” months gives me how many calories per day, and of what quality and nutritional value are the foods? Beware of companies claiming “freeze-dried” with little to no freeze-dried ingredients used in meal formulations. The most obvious RED FLAG are claims of a 25 year shelf life for foods packed in pouches. This is a suspicious marketing deception and companies advertising these excessive shelf life pouched foods are to be considered highly questionable.
- What are the circumstances or scenarios you have determined may exist that will require you to rely upon your preparedness supplies? (This is not only the most important and first question to answer, it is often the question most overlooked, or not considered critically enough). What will be the severity and impact of those circumstances on your life? Given your potential scenarios, how thoroughly have you researched the available options for food, water, medical, shelter, hygiene, and other categories of critical supplies? Are you prepared for emergencies during all seasons of the year? Is your family more susceptible to certain emergencies? How would your scenarios impact you or your family’s daily routine? Work or livelihood? How will you protect yourself and family against those who might do you harm? The grid is essential to most homes and businesses – if it is down, how long could you function? What would society look like without the grid, and a prolonged cessation of the availability of vital goods and services? Do you have back up power?
- How long will your emergency scenario last, and what is the duration of time for which you will be preparing? This is another critical question, and while it is difficult to envision the difficult details that might occur, the adequacy of your preparedness planning and supplies is directly tied to honestly answering this question. Needless to say, the longer the duration of the emergency the more effect it will have on multiple aspects of one’s daily routine and lifestyle, and the need to be focused on the diversity of situations that will surround you.
- What attitude are you willing to embody and express during the uncertainty and stress of the emergency scenarios you have determined may exist? An appropriate attitude is essential to survival and effective functioning during a serious emergency or disaster. Your emotional and spiritual viewpoint is the foundational component of any emergency circumstance. The longer the emergency the greater degree of stress, which will affect your well-being. Do you believe it is essential for you and your family to incorporate the proper emotional and spiritual attitude in your preparedness planning? Do you have a biblical worldview regarding trials and tribulations? Who do you ultimately rely on for comfort, strength and hope? Where is your faith?
- What preparedness knowledge do you personally have that is important in providing specific information and instructions needed during the emergency or emergencies for which you are preparing? How about the knowledge of family or friends? What informational resources and references – books and other tangible items – do you personally have or have access to?
- During an emergency what facilities, stores, resources, supplies, and assistance is available in your area apart from family and friends? This includes not only information and education, but also essentials such as food, water, shelter, energy, communication, and medical supplies. What utilities in your area are vulnerable to disruption or elimination? What will you do to compensate for the loss of electricity, water, gas, or phone service?
- Are you dependent upon someone or something else to get you through and supply your needs during the emergency scenarios you presume will occur? Are your neighbors or friends stocking up on enough supplies for you also? Do you honestly believe some level of government will be there to assist and resolve the situation? Do you have a community support network available? What skills and knowledge do you possess that you can contribute? How many people are you planning to provide with emergency provisions? Extended family? Friends? Church members? Community?
- Do you have a list of essential supplies you believe will be necessary to have on hand during your estimated emergency? Is it prioritized? Do you have a list of the essential categories your supplies fall under? What do you have on hand now? Are you actively storing provisions? If not – why not?
- Do you have an understanding of the financial implications of your projected emergency scenarios? This includes the costs of preparation, other financial obligations that might occur during and after the emergency, and understanding the choices needing to be made to adequately be prepared. For most folks it will be necessary to honestly assess the personal and family financial priorities in the preparedness process. Do you keep enough cash or items for barter on hand for unforeseen emergencies? Do you have back up hard copies of essential financial documents?
- What are the special needs of yourself, family, or others you care for that might arise during the scenarios you find likely? This especially includes medical issues, nutritional requirements, and physical and emotional limitations. What psychological, social, medical, or unique factors could potentially arise from a long-term (6 months or more) catastrophic event? Also consider your personal, family, work, and community needs for timely communication during an emergency. Are any pets involved in your planning? Have you had a family, company, or group meeting to directly and honestly discuss what actions are to be implemented during an emergency of the type you determined might occur? For many individuals and families the religious or spiritual factor in preparedness planning and implementation – especially during a serious or catastrophic event – is the most important. If this applies to you, make sure all family members and friends are in prayer.
- In your expected emergency scenarios will you be stationary and remain where you are, or is it possible you will have to be mobile and relocate? This could include different responses depending on your predictions of the duration and severity of the emergency. Are you aware of all the implications and planning required depending upon your answer to this question? This is another one those very difficult questions to fully comprehend, because not only can there be many perspectives to consider, being prepared to be mobile and leave an established residence or homestead requires a whole different set of planning points. If you had to evacuate or relocate right now, where would you go? With prior planning where would you prefer to go? Do you have a bug-out or grab-and-go bag/device? Do you think you need one? If you do have one, is it adequately supplied with essential provisions? Do you know how to use the items it contains? If you have to carry it – can you?
- What means of communication do you have available to you during an emergency and with whom do you need to communicate? This includes both two-way communication with others, including family, friends and associates, and one-way communication from radio stations, emergency broadcasts, or individuals via short wave. Do you have a cell phone? Will towers be functioning? Land lines? Internet? Hand held walkie-talkies? Satellite phone? Short wave radios? Citizens band radios? Emergency and/or ham radios with two-way communication capability? During a serious emergency accurate information and updates are essential for survival. What if an EMP (electro-magnetic-pulse) from a solar flare or nuclear device renders all unprotected electronics useless? How will this effect communication equipment you are relying upon?
- In your expected emergency scenarios what transportation options will be necessary and available? Needing to be mobile requires serious planning and so does remaining in place if your anticipated scenario lasts for a long duration and you need to travel within your area. What vehicles are available? What fuels do they need to operate? What do you have on hand? If you must relocate, how much space and weight is needed to transport your supplies? Do you have a bicycle? Small solar or gas scooter? Adequate foot gear? A horse? What if the emergency is in the winter – a harsh winter? What if an EMP (electro-magnetic-pulse) from a solar flare or nuclear device renders all unprotected electronics useless? How will this effect vehicles you are relying upon?
Proper preparedness planning requires a serious commitment – your life or health and the life and health of your family may depend upon it!