Friday, November 06, 2015

Two Practical and Useful Preparedness Resources

The Emergency Preparedness community has a reputation for getting, well, extreme. One minute you're reading Arlington County's recommendations for dealing with an Active Shooter, and the next you're on mulling over this nugget: How to fight people armed with automatics when you have only bolt and semi firearms? Hey, you just never know, right?

With this in mind, I like to pay special attention to emergency resources that are not only sane, but also bring a fresh and practical perspective to the topic at hand. I give you two resources I've recently tripped over on the topic. While these vary significantly, they both hit a number of related themes: (1) life altering disasters aren't just for some random Shmoe halfway around the world, they can happen to you. (2) No matter how prepared you are, enduring these events is going to be miserable. (3) You've got to plan not only to "survive" the event, but to come out on the other side of it. While this approach may seem obvious, most preparedness sites seem to fall short of thinking of the whole picture.

Anyway, I found these two guy useful:

Disaster Preparedness Tokyo - Apparently this book was distributed to Tokyo residents, and kicks off with the grim statement: It is predicted that there is a 70 percent possibility of an earthquake directly hitting Tokyo within the next 30 years. Are you prepared? Do they have your attention yet?

The guide, available as a series of PDF downloads goes through not only the preparation each family should go through, but what life will probably be like during and after said Earthquake, and resources one can use to rebuild their life once there's an opportunity to do so. It's sobering to say the least, but also quite practical. Most of the preparedness chapter applies to those outside of Earthquake zones, and as DC residents found out in 2011, even those of us who don't think we have to deal with Earthquakes, do. Chapter 4 titled Survival Tips is the "fun stuff," and gives practical suggestions for operating in a disaster area. Here's a few of the hacks they suggest:

Listening to Katrina - Does the above guide seem to governmenty for you? Yearning for something a bit more conversational? Then Listening to Katrina may be exactly what you're looking for. This half-story, half-workbook takes you through the world of emergency preparedness via the lens of someone who survived Hurricane Katrina. It's written by someone who was and is part of the Prepper scene, but has been educated with a healthy dose of reality.

I'm only about half-way through the first section of three sections, so who knows, I may end up retracting my recommendation for it. But so far, I've been surprised at the insights provided and how sane and thoughtful they've been. Unlike the Kymbaya, let's all join together and get through this tone that the Japanese resource provides, this is distinctly (scarily?) American. In the parts of I've read, there's definitely an anti-Government sentiment, but that's not the main gist. Here's a sample of the kind of advice dispensed:

At 10:15 PM on Sunday, August 28, 2005, after being on the road for 15 1/2 hours, we crash landed in Houston, Texas.

This was both a disastrous failure of planning, and the best thing we could have done.

"But wait! You're supposed to tell us about death and destruction and looters, Oh My! Besides, you said we were going to document our Plans next!"

Well, yeah, but I warned you that I might skip about. Now, where was I... AH! Yes. Crash landed.

You see, we had no idea where we were going, except that Andrea has a lot of family in Houston. Not the kind of family you see on the Jerry Springer show either, but Family. With few other options, none of which was more appealing, we crash landed at Andrea's mom's brother's house. Uncle Ken and Aunt Aggie.

I had enough composure to smile and make pleasantries while we unloaded our cars and began occupying one bedroom - which had been vacated by one of the cousins who had to double-bunk. We had brought a queen sized Areo-bed with us, and Madeline's port-a-crib. The bedroom we were in came furnished with a desk and a single bed. Once the Areo-bed was inflated, there was about 10 square feet of free space on the floor by which we could shuffle around. I set up Virginia's DVD player on the desk, and we were about done.

I'm here to tell you, though, that while that sounds somewhat meager, I couldn't have been any happier in a Hollywood mansion.

I wasn't entirely sure of my protocol with Ken and Aggie. I had met them, yes, but now here I was with wife and children like some kind of refugee. Refugee is, in fact, the right word. Ken pulled me aside and we had a talk which clarified my situation without any reservation. Actually, all he said was four words.

"This is your house."

They were the four words I guess I needed to hear because I suddenly felt a tremendous mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual relief.


That's a part of HYST that the survival books never seem to cover. You don't just have your sh*t together for you, but you have your sh*t together so that if a situation arises that you suddenly find refugees on your doorstep that you aren't at all bewildered by this. We are going to start documenting The Plan now, but as we do we want to think of that Plan from two directions. The first direction is how we make that plan serve ourselves, but the second direction is how we make that plan serve other people who are important to us - even if we may not know those people very well.

This is one of the things that pre-Katrina I had thought about, but never seriously considered.

Like I said, chatty and colorful. But awfully practical, it seems, too.

Go, prepare. Just don't fall off the deep end doing so. Incidentally, I found about the Japanese Preparedness Guide on So there you go, it's not all guns and government bashing over there (just mostly).

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