Last week I started a series on my 10 Principles of Disaster Preparedness. It is my sincere belief that your efforts to prepare should follow a plan. Being prepared is more than a full pantry of Spam, rice and beans. Preparedness begins with a mindset that says, “No matter what happens, we’re going to get through any disaster thrown at us!” Accumulating extra stores and planning ahead is all part of the overall picture, but there should be some guiding principles behind how you prepare and for what reasons. In case you missed the first three principles, see last week’s column or check it out on my blog.
4. There is value in redundancy. An old joke among government employees is that somewhere deep in the bureaucracy swamp known as Washington, there is an agency known as the Department of Redundancy Department. This principle sounds a bit like #3, “Always Have A Plan B,” but if you only have one way of purifying water, then two ways is even better. If you have one case of toilet paper, two is better. The more you have stored, the more you have available for barter or charity. Equally as important are the qualities of versatility and flexibility. Disasters don’t follow a rigid design, so it’s best if you design your plan with a certain adaptability factor as well.
5. Don’t make preparations out of fear. Several months ago we held a class at our church on Disaster Preparedness. There were about 25 people in attendance. We discussed some of the reasons for prepping including the possibility of a mega-earthquake. After the class one of the attendees went home, gathered her children and pitched a tent out in the middle of a field in fear of an earthquake destroying her house. That wasn’t exactly what we had in mind. I carry a spare tire in my car, not out of fear of a flat tire, but just in case. I have Band-aids in my wallet, just in case. The story is told of an 80 year old woman confronted by police. It was found she had two handguns in her purse, one in her glovebox and a shotgun under the seat. The officer asked, “Ma’am, just what is it you are afraid of?”Her reply, “Nothing!” When you lay in extra stores, do so with the posture of “just in case.” Not because you’re afraid of what might happen.
6. Beware of “Style Over Substance!” Politicians are fond of making laws, usually with great pomp and volume, that are long on publicity and short on actual effectiveness. We all know of products that don’t live up to their billing. Not everything labelled “Survival” will be of benefit when actually put to the test. I am convinced that much so-called “survival” gear was designed by the P.T. Barnum School of Marketing. You’ll recall their motto, I’m sure: “There’s a sucker born every minute!” When making a purchase for your preparations, do your research and think it through. First ask yourself if you know how to use it. Then try to determine the probability of necessity if there is a disaster. Make smart, well informed purchases before you invest. It’s not only your money at stake, your life may depend on this thing.
Next week we’ll continue with more of my Ten Principles. As always send your questions, comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out my blog for previous columns at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is a retired postmaster, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.