I love getting emails from readers and listeners to my radio show, and I try to answer them all. This week I received an email from an unexpected source: a single guy! Now, I’ve always suspected that about 25% of my readers are men, based on their comments here on the blog and from email I receive, but this email was especially meaningful. The concept of preparedness was new to the writer, D.F., and I’ll let you read his letter for yourself.
I can tell you the day and the hour I started preparing for a disaster. It was just three days ago at 11pm on August 15th that me and a friend were talking about earthquakes and I realized that I didn’t even have one days worth of food or water in my apartment. I didn’t have a single flashlight or even so much as a candle. To say I was woefully unprepared would be an understatement, I was perhaps as unprepared as an individual can be. The realization of how vulnerable I was hit me like a truck. I kind of freaked.
With knots in my stomach I started searching for information on the internet, fearing I would have to wade through a million blogs by guys that think they’re the star of an action movie, thankfully I was very wrong on that point.
It didn’t take me too long to find your site and I was soon reading your post, “Lets help Aimee become a SurvivalMom”. I immediately started feeling much better (your Momness is powerful). It was such a relief to realize that my first priority was a simple trip to the gas station and the grocery store. This seems so obvious to me now that I feel foolish for feeling overwhelmed in the first place.
It wasn’t even twelve hours after deciding to get prepared that I had the bare minimum. I left the grocery store with two weeks of water and food, flashlights, batteries, candles, first aid supplies and many other essential items and goods that you and others recommended. I’m a single guy with no children and shopping has always been about grabbing a few ready-to-go meals and perhaps the ingredients for one or two cooked meals. Shopping with the mentality of preparedness was like seeing a grocery store for the first time!
Since then I have purchased many of the items I would need to walk the thirty five miles to my sister’s house if I absolutely had to, begun stocking her house with essentials for her (she got right on board with me), her children and myself for a month, purchased a 22 rifle and stocked my car with the beginnings of a 72 hour kit.
I still have a lot to do. It doesn’t seem like you can ever really be prepared, but three days ago I wasn’t even prepared for a ten minute blackout. Knowing that I’m well on my way to a month (with goals of much longer) of supplies and essentials feels great.
It feels odd for me to offer a tip to someone who has been at this for far longer than I have, but in your post “Seven Lessons Learned from a Two-hour Power Outage” you talked about the initial moments after the power went out being difficult. I’m a control room operator and one of my duties is training people how to do the job. When things go wrong for any number of reasons, I have seen people “lock up” for a few moments before their knowledge and training kicks in. Co-workers lives may just be on the line, and there are many millions of dollars of equipment at risk, every scenario is different and you may not have all the information you need to assess what has happened. It is understandable why people may freeze. This is why I always drill training operators that if they are unsure in those first few moments to, “check their breakers, their lube oil pressure and their steam drum level”, and after that they’ll know what to do.
It works very well and I’m already drilling myself on what to do if there’s a power outage or in the moments after a disaster “Get dressed, put your boots on. If you’re dressed already then sit down and retie your shoelaces.” By the time I have finished tying my shoelaces, I’ll know what my next step should be. Of course it doesn’t have to be shoelaces. Anything simple but practical will do. God forbid but if I ever see a mushroom cloud while I’m out of the house, people all around me will start to panic, but I’ll be looking for a place to kneel down and tie my shoe laces!
Lisa’s note: I LOVE this tip! Focusing on a few, concrete activities helps calm the nerves, focus on an immediate need, and gives your brain time to back away from its fight/freeze/flee impulses. Then you can assess the situation and take action. Thanks for the tip, D.F.!
It’s taken me a while to get here but I’ve finally gotten to the purpose of my letter. Thank you! Your advice and the advice from like minded people may just be the most important information there is on the internet. That may sound dramatic, but it’s absolutely true. The day may come where what I have learned from you already will save my life. I cannot imagine a more noble pursuit than sharing willingly and freely your time, experience and knowledge on such an essential topic with as many people as you can. I felt desperate to find out what I needed to know and there you were, my gratitude is deep and sincere. You’re beautiful.
I wanted to share this letter with you because I know there are always newbies visiting this blog in search of, “What do I do first?” D.F. started by first being aware of the need to be prepared and then immediately went into action. I don’t think he realized that he was writing a tutorial for beginners, but here it is!
Check out these articles and downloads for more newbie help.
Originally published August 23, 2011.
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