Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Opposite of Prepared

During our year of living on World War II civilian rations certain foods and behaviors are restricted. It also means that some behaviors, such as walking to destinations and gardening are encouraged. Another example of this is in regards to emergency preparedness; during WW II the U.S. Civilian Defense Corp organized approximately 10 million civilian volunteers who were trained to fight fires, decontaminate after chemical weapon attacks, and provide first aid and other emergency services.

“Be prepared” is the time-honored motto of the Boy Scouts but, unfortunately, it’s a bit of a cliche. In today’s jaded society it’s easy to be skeptical of the need to be prepared. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks a public campaign promoted emergency preparedness; every family was encouraged to have enough non-perishable food and water (and duct tape and plastic sheeting) on hand to last through a multi-day emergency situation.

Did you do it?

If you’re like most Americans you purchased a few extra cans of tuna and a spare flashlight, but that was the extent of your emergency preparedness. There was a time when the Rational Living household had a two week stash of food and supplies kept in a watertight container in the basement. Around the first of the year I would rotate out supplies, restock flashlight batteries, sizes of diapers, etc. so that we were prepared for whatever misfortune came our way.

Living in Kansas, the most likely misfortune to hit us would be a winter storm or, that classic Kansas icon, a tornado. We have a weather radio and on the nights were it appeared a trip down to the basement would be necessary we lined up shoes, blankets, and such to grab if a tornado warning was issued.

That was then, this was now.

Now, our emergency supplies are sorely neglected. This became painfully obvious last week when, after hardly a tornado warning for our city in several years, the weather radio went off at 11:00pm with a sudden and unexpected tornado warning! Granted, it was raining, but we weren't even under a tornado watch.

TMOTH and I jumped up out of bed, woke up the girls and corralled all (including the pets) into the basement. There were no shoes, no blankets. There was only one flashlight with batteries; all the others were either missing batteries, had dead batteries, or were buried deep in the camping supplies. The hand-crank radio was lost somewhere in the old emergency supply box where (goodness gracious) I found some diapers.

Our girls our 7.5 yrs and 9.5 yrs old (yes, I have to put the half in there or they will disown me). The diapers served as a stark reminder that we have not been on the up-and-up when it has come to maintaining our emergency preparedness supplies.

Unfortunately, it CAN be too late to be prepared, and there's lots of reasons to be prepared that are statistically more likely than a red alert level on the Homeland Security Advisory System.

Flooding, winter storm, tornado, fire, contamination of public water supplies, pandemic, hazardous materials spill, and sudden unemployment are just a few.

So what do we need to do? Well, there’s various levels of preparedness, and different locations to consider. Ideally, we should have a grab-and-go emergency bag for situations that require short-term relocation, a stockpile of food and supplies for an emergency of longer duration (at least two weeks or so), and a seasonally-appropriate emergency kit in each automobile.

We've got a long way to go.

I've asked TMOTH to chair this particular task, so he'll get to spend the next few weeks perusing the various websites and blogs that talk about general preparedness, good things to know for when SHTF (the Sh*t Hits the Fan) happens and ponderings about TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It). I have no doubt he will enjoy this task.

In the meantime, I'm adding a few no-battery flashlights to this week's shopping list, and am gonna make sure that the hand-crank radio is out and accessible.

Are you prepared, dear reader?

--Rational Mama


  1. Jules often ponders TEOTWAWKI and has a "go bag" in case everything goes up in smoke. I snicker at it. However, my son accidentally fell on a planter box about 6 months ago and gashed himself behind his ear. He had to have hit juuuust right, but he did. The hardcore emergency kit fixed him up in no time without a trip to the hospital for stitches. Now I don't get to scoff at the Go Bag anymore :)

  2. We're well on our way to being uber prepared here. Do you guys have a list of sites or do you want my list of links? :)

  3. Kari - your list of sites would be great! Feel free to list them here, or you can e-mail it to me (I believe you have my e-mail from my order last fall).

  4. Please share the links! We have multiple stashes of stuff for different emergencies: box of snacks, water, and flashlights in the closet for tornadoes. Box of dog stuff and travel carrier for evacuation with the puppy. Box of flares and first aid stuff in the car...I'm sure there is some emergency I haven't thought of...Gee, was it iodine you were supposed to take after nuclear exposure? I used to have a kit for that, too!