Have a Plan
Buying a kit and stocking up on additional supplies is a great step toward being better prepared. But, having the stuff you might need is only part of the equation. You need to take the time to put together a practical, realistic plan for what to do if a crisis occurs.
One reason a plan is important is that in a true emergency, many people tend not to think clearly. The adrenaline gets pumping and, well, we sometimes do stupid things when under pressure. Forming a plan ahead of time allows you to make decisions without feeling as though you’re under the gun. You can think it through calmly and rationally. Then, should a disaster hit, simply follow the plan.
One important aspect of your emergency planning is deciding when you should hunker down at home and when to hit the road. There are times when evacuation is going to be the best option, such as if wildfires are bearing down on your area or if a hurricane is eyeballing your town as a great spot to make landfall.
Determine where you will go if you need to evacuate and how you will get there. Ideally, choose three distinct locations, each in a different direction. For example, perhaps your brother and his family live to the north, you have an aunt who lives to the west, and your best friend lives to the southeast. Given that we can’t know ahead of time where the disaster may hit or how it may affect the roads, we want to ensure we have plenty of options. If you don’t have family or friends to whom you feel you could turn in an emergency, inexpensive motels will suffice. The idea is to have a safe place to go where you’ll have a roof over your head and a bed in which to sleep. This gives you some breathing room and you’ll be able to take stock of the overall situation and decide on a game plan.
Sheltering in place at home is the ideal plan if it is safe to do so. That’s where you’ll be the most comfortable and where you’ll have the bulk of your supplies. Reserve the food and water in your kit for true emergency use, though. Use the food and other consumables in your kitchen and pantry first, beginning with anything perishable before it goes bad.
Make sure you know how to use all of your emergency gear, such as flashlights, camp stoves, and crank powered radios. Remember, all the supplies in the world won’t do you much good if you don’t know how to use them properly.
Making a plan is the first step. Then, rehearse the plan. Give it a test run and go a full day or weekend without using electricity. Either turn the power off at the circuit breaker or just pretend. See how your plans work out and make adjustments now, when you have the luxury of learning from your mistakes.