Emergency Preparedness Priorities

mountain sceneryOur physical needs prioritized – The Rule of 3’s:

  1. 3 minutes without Air or Blood
  2. 3 hours without Shelter/Warmth
  3. 3 days without Water
  4. 3 weeks without Food

But, you won’t be bleeding or without air in every emergency situation so this list is not perfectly prioritized and it is lacking some priorities.

One of the biggest challenges to becoming prepared is, “Where Do I Start” and “What Are My Priorities?”  Phil has shared his Evacuation Preparedness List which took a tremendous amount of time and experience to evaluate, prepare and share with all of us. Some people might become overwhelmed looking at a list like this because it could take years to afford everything on this list, or indecision as to where to start could lead to not doing anything. Phil intended his list to be “all inclusive” and then pared down to personal needs/skills/desires. So where to start?

Start With The Priorities. Priorities create a framework against which to evaluate each preparedness item and idea. With each item you consider adding to your list to acquire, learn or do, ask yourself, “Do I have higher priorities than this that I haven’t taken care of yet?” For example: What good will your food storage be if you freeze to death the first day or die from some other cause weeks before you would have starved to death? What will kill your fragile fleshy body the fastest? Take care of these priorities first. Your priorities may be different than mine, but you must have in your mind a priority framework so that everything you learn and evaluate makes sense and has a prioritized place.

I submit the following list of Priorities for your consideration. Over the past week I have contemplated the following list and the Rule of 3’s above. I have re-arranged the lists, questioned each item, combined them, etc. and finally whole-heartedly accepted the list below as my own priority framework. I learned the list below from Jim Phillips, but now I have completely internalized this list and it is now mine, exactly as I learned it.

Emergency Preparedness Priorities:

  1. Clothing
  2. Water
  3. Sanitation
  4. Special Needs

I would submit that Utahns in general are less prepared in this area than any other area of preparedness. Clothing is your first layer of protection against danger. You can quickly be in trouble and even die at 60° F if you become wet and cold. It only takes 3 hours or less to die in the cold and 93% of Utahns (yes I did calculate this) live where cold is the norm for most of the year. Just today, mid-June, ice fell from the sky at my house. More people die above freezing than below zero because we just simply are not prepared to live, not just visit for a few hours, but live 24/7/365 in the cold without the heated boxes we live and transport ourselves in. Clothing is our protection, our portable shelter and our heat source. Proper clothing is the least expensive, longest term, universal solution for dealing with the cold. It is only without proper clothing that we must use shelter, fire, etc.

3 days without water. That’s all we get whether we are in an emergency situation or not. I would submit that this is the second area where Utahns are least prepared. We need clean water with us, we must know how to find it,  we must be able to collect it, we must know how to purify it and have the tools/expertise to do so.

1 day to several weeks. Sanitation includes protection from anything we might contract through the air or by touching. It also includes the elimination of fecal matter or anything else that would endanger our health. Even if it takes several weeks to die from lack of sanitation, you still died and all your other preps become worthless. Sanitation is much more than toilet paper and disposing of bodily waste. We must have the knowledge, skill and products to sanitize surfaces, keep from touching unsanitary objects and disposing of dead animals/bodies. Sanitation is a frequently avoided subject since, well, it is an uncomfortable subject. Talking about manly tools is cool. Talking about food storage is, comfortable. Sanitation? Uncomfortable, but essential. Get over it. Become an expert. Protect yourself and your family. Sanitation is a priority no matter what the emergency is.

Previous sanitation posts include DIY Homemade Sanitizer and Pandemic Quarantine Preparedness.

Special Needs
Some people might die within minutes or hours without electricity to keep life-support machines working or critical medications. You can bleed to death in 3 minutes or less. Personal protection may be the top priority is some scenarios. As you evaluate your personal life-sustaining needs, is there something that is absolutely essential to your survival? For some people there may not be any Special Needs.

What is missing? In Utah where Emergency Preparedness=Food Storage, I’m sure there are many that believe food is a priority. Food is not a life-saving priority! It takes 30-40 days to starve to death depending on who you ask (but yes you will get progressively weaker). In the majority of emergency scenarios, things will be fairly normal within 30 days. The chance of starving to death in most emergencies is slim to none. I personally have gone 8 days without eating. I’m still alive.  My point is very simple. If you haven’t taken care of the other priorities, you won’t be alive long enough to even touch your food storage.

Now that I have risked offending everyone reading this, food storage IS important. Being able to produce, acquire and grow food IS very important. Everyone SHOULD have a 2-year supply of food. I am just submitting for your consideration that a 2-year supply of food will be worthless if you haven’t taken care of the other priorities first.

Emergency scenarios fall into two categories, stay-at-home or evacuation. When prioritizing your list of things to learn, acquire, etc. remember to consider both scenarios to ensure you are protected whether at home or away.

My challenge for you is to establish  your own priority framework, re-prioritize your own “lists” against this framework and then acquire, do, learn those items on your list according to your priorities. From my experience this exercise will transform your lists into becoming manageable and less stressful as things are done in “order”. You will also find that you will be less inclined to buy everything someone says you “need” to become prepared as you compare each item against your priority framework.

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