Its far more fun building faraday cages and digging underground bunkers than preparing for some of the more common disasters, but that doesn’t mean you should be unprepared. Because, and recent history is the best example of this, you’re very statistically likely to get hit with at least one natural disaster in your lifetime. And if you’re serious about survival, having a plan in place to make it through unscathed, well, that’s just common sense.
Now, when you start getting into the specifics of the crisis, there are going to be a number of unique challenges you will have to face, but after living through a few of these myself, there’s quite a few things that you can expect, no matter what. And if you’re prepared to deal with them, you’ll have far less headaches throughout the disaster.
In short, you need to consider that you will be:
- Up to several weeks without any utilities, like gas, power or water
- Facing severe food shortages in local stores and supermarkets
- Local services (police, hospitals, fire) will not be able to cope
- Needing to defend your home and property from opportunistic looters
How to start preparing for a natural disaster?
The first step is awareness. Look back over the history of the local area, the last couple of hundred years or so, and see what major catastrophes have happened. Perhaps you’re living in a flood plain, or on a fault line. Perhaps you’re vulnerable to a hurricane or a tsunami. Perhaps severe drought and fire is the primary threat. Your job is to know what’s priority number one for your natural disaster planning, as you need to plan for this first.
I’ve got a list of two potential natural disasters that are priority one (there’s a very high likelihood they will reoccur in the next 5 years) and three more that are level five (there’s a moderate chance they will reoccur in the next 10 years. This is where I focus my efforts when preparing for a natural disaster, on what’s most likely to happen.
How ready is your home for the disaster?
Based on your primary threats, your next job is to get your home ready to face that particular disaster (and any others that could reasonably occur). Think about what needs to be done in your home to “batten down the hatches” and ensure it remains intact and unscathed to survive yet another day.
In my home this is a two-stage approach. It starts with shutting ourselves off, turning gas and water lines off at the mains, and getting into our basement. This is our designated safe room as it has external access, is structurally the safest room in the house, and is where all of our supplies are stored.
How secure is your home from looters?
Next, you need to consider fortifications around your home. The last thing you want is to be targeted by anyone looking for an easy score, so it’s important to have your lockdown on point. Everything from security frames on the windows to a large dog in your yard works wonders to keep potential looters at bay, and you also need an evacuation plan should someone breach your home and you need to get out to a safe location, fast.
We’ve got private alarm systems, as well as enough floodlights to light up a college stadium. Overkill? Maybe, but it means no one will ever be able to sneak up on our perimeter without us knowing, and for me, that’s what’s most important.
How will you protect your family?
Looters are one thing, but when the bad guys come knocking on your door it’s your job to step up and keep your family safe. I’ve written many times before about the importance of arming yourself for these such situations, and in a natural disaster, the same logic applies.
If you’ve not got a means to protect your family, you’re doing them a disservice. Get yourself armed, a holster to keep it close, the training you need to be effective with a firearm, and make sure you’ll keep them safe, no matter what crisis is going on outside.
How much food and supplies are on hand?
Now, the government will tell you that 72 hours is a good minimum, but in my experience, you want to have at least 3 months’ worth of food and supplies stored.
When supply chains get disrupted from a localized crisis, it can take a significant amount of time to get operational again. And that means days, weeks, stretching your meager supplies to make it through. A far smarter option is simply getting your supplies sorted, now, so you’re not relying on the government to put food on your table. They will not have your (individual) best interests at heart, they will only ever care about maintaining order.
How will you keep the lights on?
Of course, you probably don’t want to advertise to the world that you’re one of the only houses left in the neighborhood with power, but it’s important to consider electricity once a disaster hits and the grid goes down.
Without power, your entire home shuts down, which means no air conditioning, no television, and worst of all, no refrigeration. You want to have an alternative to keep your fridge cold, and make sure you’ve got backups for both heating your home, and cooking in your kitchen. You can’t rely on electricity alone.
How will you evacuate?
In any natural disaster there’s a turning point. Where the situation changes, escalating from a localized calamity to something deadlier, a sinister storm or situation that will wipe your family out if you’re in its path.
Not only is it a smart idea to have a bug out plan should you need to evacuate, but you need to teach everyone in your family when and how to make that call. They need to be able to think and act independently, otherwise you risk them making the wrong decision when it really matters most.