Earthquakes, floods, EMP, disease outbreaks, power outages, bridge collapse cyber-attacks, wildfires, storms, sinkholes, landslides, hazardous materials, terrorism, zombies, oh my! There’s a lot to think about in your personal preparedness. We’d like to suggest a much simpler way to think about disaster planning:
Imagine that the place that you live in is suddenly in one of two situations.
Scenario 1: The Island
Imagine that suddenly and without warning your home becomes an island.
You are completely isolated from every link to the outside world. That means no power, no phone, no 911, no cable, no internet, no water service, no sewer (AKA, no flushing), no gas, no roads, and no services. And no boats! That’s cheating. Now, how would you get prepared for this? How would you ride it out in your island home?
While this scenario isn't likely, unless your home is subject to very unique flooding situations, it can serve as a helpful planning scenario. Different disasters can create these conditions. Earthquakes can damage roads, pipelines, and supply lines. Floods can contaminate drinking water. Storms can cut power, telephone, cable, and so on. This island scenario is just a shorthand way to plan for several of these conditions at once.
But if you are only prepared for the island scenario, you’ll still have gaps in your preparedness, which is why you need to think about the reverse scenario:
Scenario 2: The Hole
Imagine that in five minutes your home will become a hole . . . or maybe a smoking hole if you want to add drama.
That means you've got to evacuate quickly with your family, pets, and all the essentials. What things would want to escape with so that you could ensure your health and safety and so that you could recover and get your life back together. Where would you go? Where would you meet up with other family members if you were separated?
Here again, this isn't a likely scenario, unless you have mortal enemies with access to bombs. But there are a number of situations that could create a similar situation. Homes struck by tornadoes, fires, storm surges, or tsunamis may just leave a foundation. In chemical spills or other emergencies you may be restricted from coming back to your home.
The island and the hole approach gives you a simplified way to think about what you need to be prepared for both situations. You need to have a plan for if you are stuck at home AND if you can’t go home. The island and the hole pulls it all together and can help you decide on what’s really important.
So take some time now to use your imagination in a deep and meaningful way to improve your preparedness. Think hard about how you would react to these two scenarios and then take action to get prepared.