Planning is a big part of anyone's prepping. After all, what good does it have to build a huge stockpile of supplies, if you're not sure how you're going to use them. You might have just the thing you need, but if used at the wrong time, it might give you just the wrong result.
A large part of the reason we plan is that when an emergency happens, there usually isn't enough time to think about what you need to do. If you don't have a written plan in place, you just might find yourself running around in circles, just like all the other people out there who didn't bother getting ready for a disaster to strike.
Notice that I said a "written plan." No plan is truly ready until it is written down and available for use. When that emergency comes, you won't be thinking all that clearly. If your plan isn't written down in plain, simply English, chances are you're not going to be able to remember it.
This isn't just my opinion I'm talking about here. Military and disaster planners around the globe follow these same guidelines. They spend countless hours thinking of every disaster that can happen and the best action for their organizations to take if those disasters ever strike. Then based on those plans, they recommend changes to equipment, personnel, deployment of those personnel and training. Finally, they make sure that the plans are all written down in a well organized fashion, so that if the disaster ever strikes, they won't have to think of what to do.
There's a lot of wisdom in this course of action. The human brain has a tendency to just check out when things get rough enough. Rather than being able to rationally think things through, the "fight or flight" reaction kicks in, making it much more likely that we will run, rather than doing anything useful.
There are ways around that. The first is what I've already mentioned. While we may not be able to think of what to do when a disaster strikes, we will still be able to read. So, a written plan, detailing out what we need to do, is a great way to make sure we have the right ideas. The second thing, which in reality should be used hand-in-hand with the first, is to train. Training not only teaches us what to do in an emergency, but commits that knowledge to muscle memory, where we'll be able to use it without necessary having to think about it.
But plans and training can have holes in them. That's why we should go back and review them from time to time. In doing so, we'll often find that things we've learned since writing the plan will fill holes in our original plan, improving it. That's something we all want and need, which gives us all the motivation we need to do that periodic review.
As a long-time survivalist, I get asked to review other's plans on a regular basis. One of the places that I commonly find holes in people's survival plans is right at the beginning. They might have an excellent plan for what they are going to do, in general; but they might have forgotten about how they are going to get to that starting point. Those first few hours can be critical, so it's important that we all take the right actions, as soon as we know that we have a problem.
The items I'm going to list below are those that pretty much everyone needs to do, the moment that they realize that a disaster has hit or even that a disaster is pending. I'm going to try and put them in a logical order, based upon what I would do first. But I'll have to say that you probably won't be able to follow that order exactly. A lot will depend on your own personal situation.
Some of the items in this list can be done concurrently. For example, you can start a hose to fill a small swimming pool and expand your water supply, before you head out to start gathering your family together. As you're driving, you can be listening to the local news station on the radio, seeking to inform yourself about the situation.
Another thing that affects your implementation of these items is how many family members you have, which can actively participate in taking those first steps. If you're doing it alone, you're probably going to miss something. But as a couple, or even better yet, with the help of some older children, you can get more done. Each additional family member who is capable of helping out in those first crucial hours will make your job of putting your survival plans into effect easier, as well as making it more effective.
Of course, to make the most use out of those family members, each one will need to know what their task is, how to go about doing it, and where to find the things they'll need to use, in order to do it. Just like anything else, it's got to be written into the plan.
So, here are the key things that I see, which every prepper needs to plan on doing in those opening minutes of any disaster.
You're not going to make any good decisions without knowing what's going on. So, the first thing you want to do is to start seeking out information about what's happening. Unfortunately, the news media we live with today is nothing like the news media we grew up with. Rather than passing out vital information, they are more focused on entertaining and liberal propaganda. Yet, we still need to depend on them.
With the lack of true news that is being passed out these days, it will probably take time to gather information about what is happening. But you don't want the process of gathering information to slow down your other preparations. Therefore, your best bet would probably be to have a portable radio that you can use to gather that information.
Find out now, which news sources you can trust and how you can hear from them in a time of emergency. That may actually mean depending on internet sources. Do those sources have an app which you can use from your phone? If so, be sure that you have it installed and that it's working well.
Once you are sure that you have a real problem and that you need to put your survival plans into action, the very first thing you need to do is to inform your family and/or survival team. Chances are, your family will be scattered, with members at their work, school and other activities. While you might have made a decision to put your survival plans into effect, they might not realize this. The sooner you can tell them ,the better.
This means having a reliable means of communicating with all your family and team members. Cell phones are usually pretty good for this, but you need to have an alternate plan, in case the cell phone system goes out or one of your family members' phone is not functional. Some work places and schools require that family members turn off their phones, so you've got to have a way of communicating with those family members in that case, even if it means going to the school and barging into your kids classroom.
There's another major problem with cell phones is that the batteries have a tendency to go bad at just the wrong time. This is especially true with the younger generation, simply because they are on their phones all the time. If they aren't talking, they're texting, sending pictures, playing games or watching a video.
This requires a two-step solution. Step one is to make sure that all your family members recharge their phones every night. This has to become a habit, so that before they lay down, they make sure their phone is hooked up to the charger. The second part of the solution is to ensure that they are carrying a spare battery for their phone. Like charging the phone, keeping this charged has to become a habit as well.
In addition to family and team members, be sure to contact any relatives who are living away from your home. If the phone system goes out, this might be your last chance to contact them. Make sure that you do, if it for nothing else than to let them know that you're putting your survival plans into effect. They will be concerned about you and will need to know that you are okay.
In most disaster scenarios, it will take a few days for people to panic and any mob action to begin. But you can't be sure of that. People, like cattle, can spook and stampede quickly, especially when they feel their lives are endangered. You may not get any more warning that things have gone from normal to dangerous, than the notice that a disaster has happened.
The only protection you can count on is that which you give yourself. Therefore, you will want to arm yourself at the first hint of trouble. Better yet, get a concealed carry license and keep a gun on you at all times. Or if you can't do that, then keep one in your car, where you have access to it.
You don't want to be obvious about this. While carrying openly can be a deterrent, it can also be an advertisement. The last thing you need is for someone to follow you home, thinking that you might be better prepared than everyone else. Carrying a gun openly or being dressed in tactical clothing just might give someone that idea. So be discreet. Carry, but do so unobtrusively.
At the same time, you've got to realize that a mob is the last place you ever want to pull a gun. There's no way you can carry enough bullets to protect yourself in a mob situation. So your best defense isn't necessarily that gun you are carrying. This is one of those situations where discretion is truly the better part of valor. Keep your head on a swivel and your eyes open for any and all threats, so that you have a chance of seeing them, before they can see you.
If you see an area that appears to be crowded, then don't go there. Mobs form from crowds; and while not every crowd will turn into a mob, the close proximity of many people raises the danger level. Better to take a long route, going around the crowd, than to chance going through it.
Gather Your Family
The reason for contacting your family is to let them know that its' time to put Plan B into effect. That, in and of itself, should mean that everyone gathers at your home, unless you have an alternate meeting place as part of your plan. This might be difficult, as it will mean family members having to leave in the middle of the work day, in the middle of school or in the middle of other activities.
Keep in mind that many schools won't allow children to leave on their own during the school day. You'll need to know the circumstances under which they can leave and how to use the school's rules to your advantage. That may mean leaving a letter on file at the school, you making a call to tell the school to release them, or you actually having to go to the school and sign them out.
For that matter, you probably want to go to the school anyway, because you don't want your children walking home alone in the midst of a crisis situation. The exception to this would be for older children who are either driving or capable of caring for themselves. But if they are not driving, picking them up is still better, even for teenagers who will probably complain about it.
Teens pose another problems as well. That is, leaving their jobs. If you have a responsible position in the company you work for, you can probably leave in the middle of the work day, without putting your job at risk. But the minimum wage jobs which teens typically have, don't give them that flexibility. Keep in mind, as you make your plans, that leaving work might mean losing a job. Plan accordingly. Perhaps you can gather the rest of the family and allow them to finish out their shift before picking them up.
Coordinating getting everyone home is probably one of the most difficult aspects of developing your first action plan in a crisis. There are just too many variables to take into consideration. Yet, you have to take those variables into consideration, or there's a good chance that someone will be passed over and not have a way to get home. Better that both parents stop at a child's school, than the child be left there to get home on their own.
As you're making pickup plans, keep in mind that you need to consider the various possible starting points and what could change that. What do you need to change if one of the parents is sick and not at work? What if you've got a car down? What if the disaster precludes being able to communicate before picking up your kids from school?
One final point here; there's a good chance that you can integrate this task with others that you will be doing. For example, you can fill the gas tank on the way to pick up the kids, and then swing by the ATM to withdraw cash as you're heading for home.
Disconnect from the Grid
If you have your own electrical power generation capability, chances are, you're going to have to depend on it to get you through. If there's one constant in disasters, it's probably the loss of electrical power. Our aging grid is just too sensitive to deal with the stress and strain caused by storms, let alone anything bigger.
With that being the case, you'll want to have a means of disconnecting your home from the grid, at the first sign that power is going out. This is especially important if you have a battery backup system, as the power in your batteries will be drained by the grid, if its output is connected to your home's electrical system. If that's the case, you must disconnect immediately upon learning that the power is out.
There's another important risk here too. That is the risk of electrical fire. If the grid goes out and your home, as well as your neighbors' homes is still trying to draw power, it will try to suck it out of your batteries. That can overheat your voltage inverter, your wiring and even your batteries, to the point of starting an electrical fire. While that's not a high risk, you just don't need it on top of everything else.
No matter how much water you have, you're going to need more. That's a given. We use water for so many things, that there's no such thing as too much (unless the disaster you're facing is a flood). While most of us have some water supplies as part of our stockpile, I have yet to meet someone who has enough.
Water service might remain on during the crisis, but you can't count on it. If the power goes out, then unless your water is gravity fed or your city water authority has their own means of electrical power production, it won't be long until you're out of water too.
One of the problems is that few people have enough room to store much water. Unless your home comes with an in-ground swimming pool, you probably don't have all that much water storage. So, while you're doing everything else to put your disaster survival plan into effect, you'll need to be filling every container you can with water.
If you've got large containers, this one is easy. Just put the hose in a container and let it fill, while you are doing other things. I mentioned earlier using a small pool for this. That's my number one favorite stealth water tank. A 12 foot diameter above-ground pool (or even larger) will hold a lot of water, and doesn't look like you've put in a tank for stockpiling water.
Whether you have a swimming pool, or something else, you need to make sure that you have some sort of containers you can use for that last-minute water stockpiling. Collapsible containers work well, as you don't need so much space to store them. Don't worry about the space they'll take when they are full; before long, you'll be wishing they were taking that space up again.
This is even more true for apartment dwellers, who really don't have room to stockpile water. One of the best ways to stockpile water in an apartment, is to use a waterbed. A queen-sized waterbed holds about 196 gallons of water. That's a pretty good start, especially when you consider that you don't have room for a 2,000 gallon tank. Something like the waterBOB is excellent too, as it will hold 100 gallons of fresh drinking water in virtually any bathtub.
Food & Other Supplies
This one may seem a bit odd, considering that you already have a stockpile of food and other supplies. But like your water stockpile, no matter how big your food stockpile is, it's not big enough. So, amongst the other items that you're going to be rushing around trying to do, you should try to fit in a trip to the grocery store.
Of course, everyone else is going to be trying to do this too. Remember, your neighbors and fellow citizens don't have a stockpile in their home like you do. The smart ones are going to realize that they'd better fill up the pantry quick, before it's too late.
This is going to make this particular item on your list a rather dangerous one. For that reason, it should only be undertaken by a family member that has the capability of defending themselves; and I don't just mean defending themselves with a firearm. They should be pretty good at hand-to-hand self-defense fighting as well.
You already know the types of food you need, so I won't belabor that at this point. Hopefully, you've got a good idea of what you have on hand. So really what you want to do on this trip is to try to grab the items that you might be short of. This may be your last chance to go to the grocery store for a while, so make sure you get what you need.
Don't get in a fight over it though. If people are fighting over food, then get out of there. Either that, or grab just things that others are ignoring, so that you don't end up wrapped up in an altercation. Your personal safety has to come first.
The other thing you need to do, although it isn't as high a priority, is deal with whatever food you have in the refrigerator and freezer. If we assume that the power will go out, then your fridge and freezer won't have power to keep going. So, all that meat you have stored will thaw out and start to spoil... unless you do something with it first. While you won't want to do so the first day, by the second day of the disaster you should be canning or smoking all the fresh food you have, to make sure it remains usable and doesn't spoil.
I already mentioned this briefly, when I was talking about gathering up your family. But let me mention it again. As you are running around in circles, making your last-minute preparations, take a moment to fill your vehicle gas tanks and any gas cans you have. Fuel will probably become extremely scarce and may become extremely valuable.
The same is true if you use kerosene for heating or propane for your home. While you may not be able to get a last-minute propane delivery, you can try. If they manage to deliver it, you're ahead. If not, you haven't lost anything. But at the minimum, stop and grab a couple of tanks of propane for your barbecue grill, if you have a gas grille. That may be your stove for a few months.
Finally, there's the issue of money. I try to keep as much of my money as possible in cash, simply so that it's under my control, rather than the bank's. Many banks today are limiting the amount of money you can withdraw, which I don't like. That's supposed to be my money, not theirs. But according to them and even to the government, that money is the bank's, not ours.
The money I have to keep in the bank is divided into three different accounts; our personal account and two business accounts. That means that I can make three separate withdraws, tripling the amount of cash I can get my hands on immediately.
While some types of disasters will mean that cash money will no longer be valuable, it will take some time for cash to be replaced by a barter system. Even then, some will like cash. So, the more you have, the better off you'll be. A quick run through the ATM, while you are doing other last-minute errands might just ensure that a doctor sees your sick child or buy you something else just as critical.
Once you've made those last-minute trips to the store and grabbed your last batch of supplies, it's time to hunker down and go into hiding. Whether that means bugging out to a prepared survival retreat in the woods, before anyone else can leave town or it means bugging in at your home, you want to get out of sight and put yourself in survival mode.The old saying of "out of sight, out of mind" is just as applicable here, as it is with the library books that never get returned to the library. If people don't see you, they probably won't think about you. That will help protect you, even better than your guns can. So, go into hiding and let them forget about you.