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  • Mike L

Pick Up the Pieces




Times are changing and what we’re seeing doesn’t bode well for the future. Some offer up that we’re living in the end times as an explanation for the events rocking the world daily. War, political dysfunction, financial chicanery, social upheaval, technological advances and subsequent catastrophes, pestilence, and natural disasters are occurring at an unprecedented pace and with an intensity that’s difficult to grasp. Increasingly, the world is a frightening and dangerous place.


Of course, some events are predictable, therefore, they can be managed by careful planning and an abundance of caution. Everyone’s situation is different, so your plans must address your needs and specific circumstances. I’m going to lay out five steps you can take right now to get yourself onto or, depending upon your situation, further along on the road to preparedness.


Get Out of Your Feelings


As a normal adult, I’m responsible for my feelings, thoughts, and actions. Strange, I know, but no less true! The key here is that whatever you believe is what you choose to believe. Sooner or later, you’re accountable for your beliefs and your actions will dictate how you make out in times of crisis. If you require more information, look at the ruin and loss around you. Get out of your feelings and create a plan, build a kit, and form a network. Time is not on your side. I take a deeper dive into this topic in the post Critical Thought Theory.  


Bundle and Cache


Tax season is a few weeks behind us so now is a good time to critically examine your finances and supplies. If you’re getting a return from either the federal government or the state, you can use the windfall in several ways: save it; invest it; pay off debt; build your emergency cache. You can’t go wrong with any of these options, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to suggest you go with bundle and cache. Bundle, as in a bundle of cash to grow your emergency fund and cache, in reference to your supplies and emergency gear.


Cash on hand is essential because many disasters, natural and man-made, knock out parts of the grid in the affected area. What businesses that are open will likely only accept cash. Credit and debit card transactions are nearly instantaneous, which means they require power, i.e., electricity. Gone are the days in which a merchant takes an imprint of a credit card and submits it to the payment network later. You need to have cash to buy the things you need. Small bills work best as the merchant may not be able or willing to make change for large bills.     


Depending upon the size of your return, you can purchase a portable solar generator or invest in some of the long-term dehydrated meal kits. You have an overwhelming array of options and if you do a thorough needs analysis, you really can’t go wrong. Be discerning and don’t be swayed by the fear-inducing marketing ploys. For most of us, there’s never a shortage of important uses for our money. Being better prepared needs to be at the top of the list.


Look for Hook Ups


In every post, I strongly encourage you to connect with other people, whether it’s your family, neighbors across the street or associates down state. You need them. All the ammunition and protein ration bars in the world aren’t as valuable or as necessary as another human being. Community building is difficult in normal times, but in times of crisis, it can mean the difference between life and death. Church groups, professional associations, block parties, professional associations, high school sporting events all place you in the presence of other people.


It's difficult to know who will respond positively to your gentle inquiries and who will look at you as though you’re crazy. Start with the obvious, talk about the natural disasters dominating the headlines and upending lives. Ask them about how they managed during the pandemic or share a personal story of how you’re managing in the face of what seems to be one disaster after another. Make the commitment that you’re going to make at least one connection and work together with another person to be better prepared and more resilient.   


Get into the Weeds


If you were to take a deep dive into your readiness for a three-week power outage or a three-week shelter-in-place order, the results would likely be disturbing, if not scary. Think back to the early days of the pandemic and the fear, confusion, and misinformation that ran rampant. No one had ever experienced that before so there was no playbook to follow. I’m of the belief that careful, focused planning replaces fear with confidence; uncertainty is replaced with decisive action and misinformation is replaced with reasonable, and practical guidance.


Once you get over the sobering fact that you’re not prepared, do so by organizing your supplies. Leave no stone unturned as you document your needs and wants. You may not be able to acquire let alone find them later. Use checklists to highlight both what you have as well as what you need to get. Involve the family and as a fully engaged group, drink from the same pitcher of preparedness Kool Aid. You can’t prepare for every eventuality and it’s possible that the magnitude of an event will overwhelm your efforts. Even so, giving in to fear and hopelessness isn’t an option I’m willing to explore. Some preps are better than no preps.


Trust But Verify


There are plenty of opportunities to test the effectiveness of your plans as well as your mettle before it really counts. Practice with your family and group. Practice using no electricity whatsoever on a weekend or, drive the route you’d take during an actual evacuation. Practice loading the car in the dark. Identify routes out of the area that bypass the major highways and large towns. In an actual disaster, the major highways might be impassable and depending upon the magnitude of the event, large towns full of desperate people creates unnecessary risk. Practicing the actions you will take in disaster situations can identify gaps in planning as well as increase your level of competence for when it matters most.   


So that’s it. Those are the five actions I recommend you take right now to jumpstart your preparedness journey. Start today!

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