How I Got Ready
Updated: May 20
In speaking with a buddy, he asked me what I’m preparing for. Great question, I complimented him. Planning for specific events is more effective than a haphazard approach of simply buying lots of food and a generator, although, having both is a step in the right direction. Aside from the basics of food, water, and adequate shelter, you must take into consideration how you live. Aside from the basic requirements, our life circumstances are vastly different based upon the geographic areas in which we live. More tellingly, income, education, gender, religion and a host of cultural considerations all exert tremendous influence on our daily lives.
Are you a singleton or a family of six? Do you have special dietary concerns or, are you a senior on a fixed income? Does anyone in your household fall into a special population such as those with sensory, physical, and cognitive challenges? Does a member of your household need assistance with the activities of daily living such as getting dressed, feeding and bathing? Is smoking a bowl and downing a six-pack your favorite daily pastime? Again, I’m giving examples because daily life is different for each of us. Only you know how you live so you need to start with a detailed needs analysis of your daily life.
Severe Weather Event and Power Outage
Next, address the hazards most common where you live. The question to ask yourself is “what’s the likelihood of X happening here where I live?” This is how you drill down to determine the most likely scenarios and from there, you make plans to address each outcome as best you can. No one can ever be perfectly prepared, and you can’t prepare for every eventuality. You do the best you can with the information available to you and the resources you have. I’ll address Chicago’s legendary crime and criminal activity in a minute.
Life in Chicago has a high degree of predictability- the summers are hot and humid with the winters usually bone-numbingly cold for two to three weeks at a time. While certainly hazards in the Midwest and Chicago, I’ve not specifically prepared for tornados or earthquakes. Instead, I planned for the far more likely severe weather event- a blizzard- and subsequent power outage. There’s a wealth of scientific data as well as anecdotal evidence to support this claim. I addressed the following critical needs: cooking; heat for warmth; food preservation; potable water and, a supply for hygiene purposes.
Supply Chain Disruption
I’ve closely watched how the Covid-19 pandemic has been used to explain away the supply chain disruptions and issues at food processing facilities. Recall two years ago, there was a nation-wide shortage of toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning wipes, and more recently, baby formula. Inflation is at an all-time high and interest rates are wreaking havoc on budgets large and small. I needed to take a minute to address the interconnectedness of our consumer society and the world at-large because it absolutely impacts how you live whether that’s in Manhattan, on the big island of Hawaii or rural Alabama.
It may seem counter-intuitive but grocery stores must be stocked daily otherwise they run out of the items we buy most. Armed with this information, I make it a point to add at least ten (10) cans of fruit, meat, and veggies to my long-term pantry every trip I make to the store. Minimally, I grocery shop twice a month but, I’ve conditioned myself to always add to the LTP every time I go to the store. The takeaway here is to do what you can when you can. (Expect to see more on the different types of pantries in an upcoming blog post.) Additionally, I have an assortment of MREs, Meals Ready-to-Eat and freeze-dried food. This gives me a cushion just in case I can’t make it to the store or if the stores are empty or operating with severely limited inventory.
The overarching goal here is to be able to feed myself for a period of time. In my case, I wanted to have enough food for a year. I’m presently in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment and I have food and other supplies cached in every room except for the bathrooms. Again, everyone’s situation is different and based upon a variety of factors so a deep needs analysis, followed by careful, focused planning is required. Don’t forget to include personal care products such as: deodorant and toothpaste; feminine hygiene and skin/hair care products; over-the-counter medications and the forest of paper products that dominate our daily lives. Do you have a pet? If so, all of Spanky’s needs must be factored in as well.
Living in the third largest city in the country presents a unique set of challenges and resources; however, I still bear the personal responsibility of providing for myself. So much of our safety and security are dependent upon having a job and living in a clean, safe place. If I were to lose my job or temporarily be unable to work, I’d still need to eat. Simply put, my food stores are a hedge against rampant inflation and a time in which I may be unable to actively provide for myself. About a year ago, I was teasing a coworker about leaving work early. He had a stomach bug of some sort, and I was good-naturedly, having a laugh at his expense. Instant karma: I pulled a muscle in my back later that day. It was all I could to do to make it to my room and collapse in the most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced. I ended up taking five days off from work and the pain was almost unbearable. What I needed most was someone to take me to the doctor and to the pharmacy. Thankfully, I had help in that regard and the experience added a new level of awareness to how I prepare.
Personal crises come in all shapes, sizes and varieties and I can’t possibly list them all. Highlighting a few should give you a good idea of what I’m talking about, though. Personal crises will be a topic I visit often in upcoming blog posts as well as podcasts.
I’m not going to get too deep into civil disturbances because that’s an upcoming blog post. Suffice to say, I’m refining my plans and identifying my “triggers” to get out of Chicago before SHTF. For those of you new to emergency preparedness/ prepping, SHTF means “Shit Hits the Fan.” Once SHTF, it’s too late to run out and grab a case of water and extra toilet paper. The normal rules no longer apply as the regular services and conveniences you enjoy are likely no longer available. Central to my plans is being able to stay ahead of the curve which means I must be dialed into the sh*t going down and where it’s going down. Now for the crime and criminal conduct that Chicago is infamous for.
The city of Chicago spans almost 235 square miles and is made up of 100 neighborhoods and home to more than 2.7 million residents! If Chicago was a country, it would have an economy bigger than that of Iran, Austria, and South Africa. So yeah, you get it that Chicago is vast, vibrant, and full of contradictions. I work overnight and sleep during the day. I don’t go out much, certainly not in the winter but, I entertain at home fairly often. I don’t have a reason to be in certain parts of the city, so I don’t go.
Many people conflate civil disturbances and crime with politics and a case can certainly be made for this line of thinking. However, human nature is far more powerful and often overlooked when fingers are pointed, and blame assessed. This is the trickiest of all events to prepare for because it contains so many variables, most of which are man-made and avoidable. In any event, this is something I’m devoting serious thought and planning to.
That’s it. Those are the five events I’m preparing for. Note that I didn’t say ‘prepared’ for. I used the present tense because I’m continually revisiting preps and refining my plans.
What are your thoughts on this one? Feel free to comment and share your story or insights below.