When I first started making preparations I was convinced it was all about adding another can of Spam or some more beans to the pantry. The more I learn and the farther down this road I go, the more my thinking has evolved. Your plan is every bit as important as having your shelves full of food. You may have the most well-equipped pantry and every one of your cars has a get-home bag, but without a plan it may all be for naught.
Your response to disaster will be different if an earthquake occurs when you’re 100 miles from home than it will be if you’re sitting in your living room. When a fireman knocks on your door and says you have one hour to evacuate because of a wildfire heading your way, your plan has to be flexible enough to accommodate that scenario. Two years ago a fatal landslide in Oso, Washington, prompted an entire community to be evacuated on short notice. If that knock came to your door, do you have any idea what you would take with you and what you would do first?
Some years back, as a student pilot, my flight instructor drilled into me the importance of always keeping a landing area in mind. There aren’t too many suitably flat areas in Western Oregon to land a small plane, but if I expected to survive an engine failure or other emergency, I’d better have a plan where I was going to land that airplane.
No plan can cover every scenario, but a primary basic to every disaster plan is communications. How do you plan to get in touch with your family? Have you discussed with your family who they should contact if they can’t get in touch with you? One method widely encouraged by experts is to establish an out-of-state friend or relative to be a clearinghouse for your family’s communication. Many times it’s easier to make an out of state call than to call next door. If local communications are disrupted, quite often calls out of the area more successful than local calls. Also text messages will sometimes be more successful than voice communication. If you don’t know how, ask any kid. It’s really pretty easy.
Now sit down with your family and decide which out of state relative or friend will make a good contact hub for you. Make sure each family member is supplied the necessary contact information and under which circumstances you will make contact.
Making plans isn’t as exciting as finding a bargain on freeze-dried food or discovering another new gadget. But if you don’t have a plan in place, none of the survival food nor the latest GPS receiver is going to be of any use to you. After all you’ve got to have a place picked out to land that airplane. Every pilot knows if they fly long enough, sooner or later they may have to make an emergency landing. You’d better have a plan! Remember the credo: Get a kit, make a plan, be informed! Don’t overlook the ‘plan’ part.