By Gaye Levy
“Oh no! Now what? A disruptive event has just occurred in my area and what do I do? I know that I have prepared an emergency kit and can survive for a week or two but what do I do now? I am confused and can’t think. Help me!”
Although this is a fictional scenario, those might likely be the thoughts that run through your mind following an earthquake, hurricane, flood, wildfire or other natural disaster. Those thoughts and worse will jump to the forefront if the disruptive event is a pandemic, nuclear event, or civil unrest where your life may be in danger.
While some may think that the likelihood of such a disaster landing on your doorstep is low, it could happen. That is why you prepare, right?
Given that a disruptive event might occur without warning, what will do you do? Here are some tips and possible solutions to the “OH NO! What do I do now?” dilemma.
Take Stock of the Situation
Tip #1: Are you and your family safe? Can you keep yourselves warm, fed, and out of harm’s way? Remember, being prepared for a disaster is part of your basic responsibility. If you have been caught unprepared, this will be more of a challenge than if you’re able to be completely self-sufficient.
Tip #2: If it appears that you are safe inside your home, determine what the conditions are outdoors. Is it even safe to go outside or should you stay put and shelter in place?
Tip #3: Do you have a way to let family and loved ones outside of your home know that you are safe? What communication systems are functional (telephone, cell phone, texting, internet, shortwave radio)?
Tip #4: Are you facing a true emergency or do you need help immediately? If you are okay and the event is a major disaster, place a sign in your window or on your door that say’s “OK”. If you need medical assistance of other help, put up a sign that says “HELP” or “INJURED”.
Prepare Your “In the Moment” Mindset
Tip #5: Assume that you are going to be on your own for a while. Local services will be overwhelmed and you should only look to them for help in true life or death emergencies. Don’t call 911 to ask for information, report power outages, or to pass on information that is not life or death in nature.
Tip #6: Plan to subsist on stored food, water, and supplies. If the situation is dire, transportation systems and power systems will be only marginally functional if they are functional at all. The shelves of the stores, if they are even open, will be empty within hours.
Tip #7: Disasters bring out the best and the worst in people. Be patient with those who do not respond well, and work hard to ensure that your own response is positive and constructive.
Tip #8: After a disaster or disruptive event, there is a natural tendency to blame someone for the event. Remember, disasters are usually no one’s fault, and are an unavoidable part of simply living in our world. Focus on the things you can control such as helping your community heal, staying positive, and moving forward.
Tip #9: Roll with the punches and make the best of a bad situation. Stay secure in the knowledge that things can only get better.
Help Others in Your Community
Tip #10: Check on your neighbors. Are they okay? Is there anything you can do help them out? Be especially diligent to check on the elderly and families with infants.
Tip #11: If you belong to a church or service organization, volunteer to help with any efforts they coordinate. Staying involved with like-minded people will ensure that your time and energy is put to the best use.
Tip #12: There is a lot of adrenaline flowing after a disaster. If you feel overwhelmed, do not be afraid to take a deep breath or two, and reassess the situation. Keep in mind that in the rush to help, well-intentioned people can end up causing more confusion than they intended.
Tip #13: Respect others for their efforts and understand that it may take a while for a community to make use of all of the help offered. Do not get frustrated if your assistance is not immediately accepted. And also do not get frustrated if other volunteers seem less skilled than you are.
Start Now to Prepare Yourself Mentally
Tip #14: Develop resilience by practicing your ability to cope with daily ups and downs in life now, while you are safe. How to do this? The next time a stressful situation occurs, take a deep breath and think about the long-term consequences of what has happened. In the big picture of life, is this single occurrence going to change things? Is it worth a temper tantrum or other form of meltdown? Stay calm and divert your stress by taking on a productive or relaxing activity. The more your practice staying calm during the daily fluctuations in life, the better you will cope when something major occurs.
Tip #15: Manage fear through knowledge. Be informed. In case you need it, plan multiple exit routes and plan for someplace to go. The Internet has thousands of resources and websites available for free. So does your local library. The more you know, the less you will suffer the consequences and debilitating effects of fear.
Tip #16: Prepare your supplies and have an emergency kit. Do not forget that all-important first aid kit. This sounds so simple but how many of you read about emergency food and water supplies and a bug out kit but have done nothing? Start small and take baby steps.
Tip #17: Have a plan and write it down. Review your options ahead of time so you have concrete decisions about what to do before something unexpected happens. I have often mentioned that a good place to post your plan is on the inside of your hall closet door. When a disaster occurs there will be no scrambling around, no need to think about the next step, no need to panic and say “what now?” Having a plan in place, whether it is 100% workable or not, will be calming and will free your mind to react to the disruptive event in a productive manner.
What is a Disruptive Event?
I can’t recall exactly when I started using the term “Disruptive Event” although I did describe it in detail when I wrote 10 Ways to Stay Calm and Prepare for a Disruptive Event. I will summarize again here.
Briefly, I use the term Disruptive Event as a catch-all phrase for the myriad of things that could happen to alter life as we know it. I use it to describe any event that could potentially transform our personal lives into one of chaos, distress, confusion, or all of the above.
Interestingly enough, I have not found find many references to this term using Google; so the how, where, and why I started using it most likely has to do with my own thoughts on TEOTWAWKI.
Note: TEOTWAWKI = The End of the World as We Know It
TEOTWAWKI was a commonly used acronym in preparedness and survival circles until the end of 2012 when various predictions of the end of times did not materialize. The term is still used today, in a much broader sense. At Backdoor Survival, for example, TEOTWAWKI refers to anything that disrupts our normal way of life. This could be something as devastating as an EMP taking down the power grid, to a more mundane (but equally devastating) job loss or loss of a family member.
Disruptive events are common and that is why we prepare. In 12 Months of Prepping, as I have defined it, we are preparing for short-term disruptive events and, in doing so, we are better prepared than 95% of our friends and neighbors.
But honestly and truly, that is just a start. What about after that?
The trite answer is that we focus on skills and projects that foster self-sufficiency without modern conveniences. We also focus on defensive tactics and how we will defend not only our homes, but our person, and our rights under the Constitution. More difficult is that we prepare our mental state so that we will be level-headed and calm when our world becomes a sea of chaos.
The Final Word
At home in Washington State, the probability of a major earthquake is high. Geologists say we are overdue and I believe them. To add to the potential crisis, I live in a tsunami zone.
Although I am well prepared, I still worry that in the panic and chaos of a disruptive event, I will be impotent to act. Will I be the deer caught in the headlights? If it happened to you, would you be able to think on your feet and simply act?
This article is as much for me as it is for you. It is a reminder that we all need to keep a level head so that we can act responsibly following a disaster, no matter how small, no matter how large.
Take stock, jump into the mindset and help others. Those are words that will translate into action with the big one occurs.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye started Backdoor Survival to share her angst and concern about our deteriorating economy and its impact on ordinary, middle-class folks. She also wanted to become a prepper of the highest order and to share her knowledge as she learned it along the way. She considers her sharing of knowledge her way of giving back and as always, we at Activist Post are grateful for her contributions. If you would like to read more from Gaye Levy, check out her blog at http://www.backdoorsurvival.com/. You can also visit her Facebook page or sign up for updates by email by clicking on Backdoor Survival Updates.