This is the first installment in a number of articles to help you prepare for whatever may come your way. The goal here is to give a broad overview of the various components to a good, versatile survival plan, and hopefully start the wheels turning on your own preparation plans.
Why should you prepare? I have noticed that people that have lived in a comfortable environment for most of their lives tend to think nothing bad could really happen. History is full of such examples, on all sorts of levels. Just one example: before Pearl Harbor was bombed the US government had decoded several Japanese messages that indicated they would attack, yet US officials and officers believed it to be impossible anyway. When the incoming bombers showed up on early radar, it was dismissed as either a large flock of birds or a signal failure. No preparations were made, or even basic steps taken should the threat become a reality. One of the officers even ordered that our planes on the ground be grouped tightly together, because he was more worried about vandalism from the locals. As they say, the rest is history. Although I couldn't stand history when I was in grade school, I have found it to be interesting and quite useful as I've grown older. But it is only useful if we remember to make an effort to avoid the same mistakes. The lesson here is that you should never become too comfortable in assuming something really couldn't happen.
You could be preparing for an economic collapse, a repeat of the events that took place after Hurricane Katrina, or you could even be preparing for zombies! You could just be making preparations for common events, such as when a construction crew breaks the water main, or when the power goes out for a few days after a major storm. The point is that we don't really know what is in the future. Something can happen, and its more likely than most people tend to realize.
I am the type of person to keep a first aid kit, jumper cables, and some extra tools in my vehicle. It's not that I have needed them often, but I was sure glad they were there one the rare occasion that I did. I look at all of my preparations in the same way. I believe the best preparations are those that will help you in your current everyday life, as well as in the event of a disaster. For example: Don't just stockpile food that you wouldn't normally eat. By stocking up on the food you normally do eat, combined with a good rotation plan - you not only build up a reserve of emergency food, but it shouldn't go to waste even if a major disaster never happens. Your money and efforts were not wasted either way.
This was standard practice for older generations. Those that have lived through the Great Depression can teach us a lot. Most households used to always have a large food pantry. It was not really considered to be prepping. They would replace food in the pantry as it was used. Recent generations tend to purchase only the foods they plan to eat in the next week or sometimes even less. They tend to need to purchase most of the components whenever they want to try a new recipe. By re-learning some of the practices of our grandparents, we are building a useable pantry of food that doubles as an emergency food stockpile.
This same strategy can be employed with most aspects of survival preparation. When considering the things that you would like to learn, practice, or purchase keep a constant lookout for things that would not only help in the event of an emergency, but would also be useful to you today.
It is important to prepare more than your assets. You should prepare your mind and your body as well. Preparing the mind consists mostly of learning to increase you awareness of your surroundings. An awareness of your surroundings can help you to spot a potential threat and often avoid it altogether. It is well known that many muggers specifically seek victims that appear oblivious to their surroundings. Another aspect of preparing your mind is building your know-how of techniques and skills that are versatile and can be used in a wide variety of situations.
Preparing the body means to strive to stay in good health. Learn to live on a balanced diet. Add a workout regime into your disaster preparations. The side benefit is a good, strong and healthy body, and the workout will help you to work off stress. Once again, that is something you will benefit from today. But this also prepares you for the unforeseen. In the event that a disaster does strike, good physical fitness can help you to outrun the threats that you can, and a better chance to fend off the ones you cannot.
Another important concept to a good plan is to recognize you cannot control when a disaster strikes. Get in the habit of thinking "What if something happened while you were _____". That blank could be "at work", or any of the other places you frequently go. Every Day Carry (EDC) is list of essential items that you get in the habit of keeping with you wherever you go. It can be as simple as a backpack that you keep in your vehicle, or a small pocketknife in your pocket. We will dedicate entire articles to EDC, but for now we will just list some basics. First Aid kit, flashlight, knife, are all things that can often come in useful in your everday lives. In a bag in your vehicle you can throw an extra set of clothes, work gloves, small food rations, emergency water packets. The goal is to try to have everything you would need to sustain you for atleast 24 hours, should you not be able to get home for whatever reason.
The last aspect of prepping for this introduction is learning to become as self-sufficent as practically possible. The less you need to rely on outside utilities, the less impacted you will be if those services go down. Becoming self-reliant is not something that is easily done overnight. But in a disaster you may have to, and any steps you have already taken in that direction will surely help. You can work to reduce your water consumption. Use a rainbarrel to collect water for outdoor use, and properly sanitized, it could even provide emergecy water for yourself should you ever need it. Install energy efficient lights and appliances. They will save you energy now, and the lower your energy footprint the easier it will be to find alternative sources if the power grid ever goes down.