How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Emergency Action Plans Revisited

Recently my family and I had a bit of a moment. And not in a good way. We came very close to needing to exercise one of our Emergency Action Plans.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to do that. But it was an interesting experience that raised a few thoughts I’d like to share with you tonight.

Lessons Learned

Drills are one thing, but reality is another thing all together. When my wife and I realized we might have to pull the trigger on the plan, it was something completely different. When your brain thinks it’s for real, you will act completely differently.

Checklists are key. You have to know ahead of time what you’re going to do, and when you’re going to do it. It’s hard enough to not forget something in a drill, but with the adrenaline flowing, it’s something completely different.

You have to communicate. When we discussed the situation afterward, I found out my wife was very worried about something that was under control. But shame on me, I never explicitly communicated that to her before the situation, so it was an instant point of anxiety for her. Be explicit about things with your spouse and family, and don’t assume you’re on the same page. Verify that you are.

You won’t be able to hide things from kids. In this case it wasn’t an incident where we had to drop everything and leave, so we had some time to do some of the ‘nice to do’ items on the list. Like asking some of the older kids to get some of their laundry done. Well, we normally don’t ask them to do that sort of thing at night, so they instantly wondered what was going on, and why were we asking them to do this. We glossed over it, but it’s food for thought.

We also identified a number of gaps in our plans which we are addressing. All in all it was a fantastic learning experience.

Two Questions For You

Now I have two questions for you. Please share your answers in the comments, or if you have private commentary, send me an email.

Question One: If you had to pull the trigger on your evac plans, where are the gaps? When was the last time you exercised that plan?

Question Two: Would it be useful to you for me to go into detail on HOW to put together your Emergency Action Plans? I’ve been thinking about doing an online webinar soon, and this might make a good topic for it.

Let me know what you think!

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17 Responses to Emergency Action Plans Revisited

  1. That would be helpful. This is one area I feel very un-comfortable when it comes to prep. The idea of leaving my house for good or a period of time is very overwhelming. My husband talks about it like it’s no big deal but for a woman (at least me) it’s huge.

    Jane in Alaska

  2. How to put together your Emergency Action Plans – Yes, this would be very helpful and very appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.

  3. Rudy, I think it would be helpful. My husband and I are pretty much on the same page when it comes to planning for emergencies, and acting upon them, and have already discussed what course of action we would take should a worse case scenario happen that affects everyone. If I have questions and concerns then I bring them up and get an answer.

    On an individual level we’ve weathered the storm before(military deployment for him right after major surgery for me), so we’d be okay. Financials are covered by both of us with easy access set up for each others accounts should one of us be rendered invalid or should one of us die. Also, wills, health care proxies and POAs are set in stone.

    For the practical applications of things he usually takes care of: written instructions for operation of hard wired generator should we lose power for an extended period of time are right on the circuit panel. Courtesy of the electrician.

    What sort of emergencies did you have in mind?

  4. Rudy, the emergency action plan would be much appreciated. I have only recently begun food storage and have put a few items aside that I know we would need to take with us. However, I feel I have the “things” I need but not the know how. I haven’t quite gotten my husband on board yet.

  5. Rudy – I am looking forward to your emergency action plan. I know exactly what you are talking about “being on the same page”. We faced forest fires a few years back, a scenario we hadn’t played. The kids and I became (instantly and totally) dependent on my husband to make quick, responsible decisions. He is the head of our house, we are comfortable in following his lead in normal times, so when things went weird it was a natural response. We were commended by firefighters for the actions we took. I worry for many couples/families that the chain of command is weak or confusing. Faith and confidence are the keys in crisis, if we don’t have a strong hold on them in good times, we’ll never be able to muster them in bad times.

  6. In all but the direst of emergencies, I plan to shelter in place. However, I do have “get me home” and “get me out of here” bags just in case. “Get me home” goes with me when I leave the neighborhood with an extra bag if I travel more than just a couple of miles away. My 12 gauge makes the trip in the car trunk. A very detailed county map and extra water is always in the car and I review scenarios of how and when I would need to use the plan. At 57 and with my house mate at 83, some of these plans take some real consideration.

  7. I am pretty well prepared – well for the most part – and keep “stocking up” more and more every day in the hopes that we will be okay if any emergency comes to our door step, or the doorstep of our choosing. We are really of the mindset though, remembering the old adage that we won’t really know how to handle the situation, until that situation arises. Every plan is different, but knowing that we are way ahead of the game with food, water, survival gear, guns and ammo. is quite a relief for us. Mr. Kearney, keep pushing and talking and we will all feel better. We all have lots of learn – even us old folk.

  8. yes a plan would be helpful the problem would be I would have to do everything becouse my daughter and husband would be hiding behind me or out the door. Any idea on making them braver.

  9. Rudy,

    You’ve really hit on a good topic. While many of us may think we have good plans, additional input would certainly be a plus. If we were to ask the majority of our neighbors they would think we are nuts. They live in a fog, unaware of the economic problems that lie ahead. There are so many variables that need to be considered.
    I will say this, it is extremely helpful to watch how others handle emergencies that occur throughout the United States. Case in point was the short lead time families faced when threatened by by forest fires. What do you take when you only have 20 or 30 minutes to get out? Prior planning makes all of the difference!

    I look forward to your planning feature.

  10. Both your ideas are very welcome!

    This year, we are experiencing a severe drought, and forest/grass fire is of major concern. My husband and I toured the house and noted the things each of us value most and would want to take if we had 15 or 30 minutes to pack up. We prioritized those things, then I posted the list on the wall next to our bug-out pack.

    Any advice about immediate evacuation would be especially helpful.

  11. Hello,

    I’m a 33 year old Aussie living in Switzerland with my Swiss husband & our two young children, 6 & 4. I’m going to shock you all by telling you, I have not the faintest idea of where I would start in an emergency situation. We have no food or water stores, no protection masks, emergency tools set aside, our first aid kit is basic..we certainly have no guns or ammunition (should I pick up a stun gun..?!) lol.. Seriously though, this is huge, I am just now realising that my family is completely vulnerable should something go pear-shaped. Trying to get a handle on even the basics of ‘prepping’ seems really overwhelming (considering also that I don’t have a whole heap of free time on my hands) Even the ‘basics’ seem like they are going to take up a lot of financial resources, for example, with this radiation concern in Japan I’ve seen the rush on Geiger counters over the net to measure radiation, but for the most part it seems that any decent unit starts at about $500.. (ouch) Also, I know you start out taking care of short term food supply etc, but looking at the long term options, such as freeze dried food & such, wow, that gets really out of control when you look at how much of it you would need for a year plan. I’m not saying it’s not worth it, I’m saying it’s a big investment. I also have the extra issue of trying to convince my husband that this type of planning is even necessary. Did you guys find this process really difficult to get a hold on at first?, I feel like half the world is so many light years ahead of us in this direction & I’m not sure we can catch up before some horrible environmental disaster/contamination strikes, it’s scary. Are you all concerned about this issue in Japan? It seems like the situation is much worse than is being reported at the moment. Do any of you read
    Sorry, all the hysterical questions.. could someone also explain to me, I’ve been wondering, in a total societal meltdown/food crisis/economic collapse etc.. where chaos & panic was breaking out, what good would storing all this stuff do you really? People would realise after a while that you were bunked up in your house doing rather well compared to others & wouldn’t they just act violently out of desperation & bust in & take your stuff? Obviously the fire arms some of you are talking about are for protection but you wouldn’t stop a swarm of panic stricken starving people with one shotgun.. just asking. Even if you had it buried or whatever, they would just need to threaten your children & I’m guessing you’d give the location up.. Are you guys more just talking about preparing for a semi disturbance in our existence, as opposed to total annihilation of modern society? If the crap really hits the fan & we all have to go underground due to our environment being toxic, I guess we’d all be more or less in the same boat, wouldn’t we? I mean if you had to leave your house you could only take what you could fit in a large backpack, I would think..?
    I’m just trying to get a handle on the extent of influence the actual storing component of preparedness has on the big picture. I feel like apart from the obvious things like some water, food, basic tools, first aid etc, perhaps I should be focusing on learning skills I can apply to minimise the impact of a long term breakdown of the way we live & survive on this planet.

    Teja, clueless mum of two precious babies

    • P.S
      The sign-off I chose was perhaps a little harsh, I’m actually not ‘clueless’, just feeling undereducated on this particular subject..

  12. Teja, like everything else you take it one step at a time. Thinking of everything at once and every contingency will just overwhelm you. Invest in a few good books, like Rawles’ TEOTWAWKI, books about food storage and cooking,etc. You can’t do everything at once and it will take many months to adequately prepare, so you address each need gradually. As for a hoard coming to take your stock, keep this information to yourself and ally yourself with others in your community. Being prepared is not a new concept but an old one that our parents and grandparents have always done, especially in the New England areas of the countryside.

    • Hi Lynda, I just wanted to quickly thank you very much for your kind & helpful response.
      I will keep it short as I don’t want to go off topic with personal posts.

      Thanks again & all the best :)

  13. Like you’ve all said so well, you can’t prepare for everything and even if you could, you’d be hard pressed to remember everything too…especially when the fight or flight mindset kicks in.

    Checklists are key. I’ve been working on them myself. It’s a never ending process. But like Rudy also said, it’s important to keep people on the same page. So that got me thinking and reassessing. I’m thinking about breaking the checklists up into smaller tasks. In an emergency situation, one way to keep people calm is to actually give them something to do. Even if it’s a simple job like “boil some water and get some towels.” But maybe we can take that a step further and give each person in the household/village a part of that checklist and let them gather those particular items or accomplish those particular tasks. The checklists can all be kept together in one place and handed out as necessary to those present which may vary.

    Like anything, the above suggestion, is merely that…a suggestion. Everyone’s needs will be different and we all respond just a bit differently than everyone, but hopefully this may help some of you to become just one part of your emergency action plan.

  14. Yes, please, go into detail regarding what we need to do for our bug in and bug out plans. It would be very helpful and we could identify our weak areas or things we left out completely.

  15. I would love ideas on Emergency Action plans. My husband does not believe in any of this stuff. I’m also in charge of preparedness for my neighborhood, so I need all the ideas I can get. I love your website, lots of helpful ideas, thanks.