How many airline safety videos have you watched — or ignored in favor of your Instagram?
Regardless, you could probably recite one from memory.
Naturally, this Air New Zealand epic is a personal fave:
Note particularly: “Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”
Reflexively, that seems selfish. Caring for yourself before vulnerable loved ones?
Yet, logically we know: If you can’t breath on an oxygen-deprived airliner at 36,000 feet, accompanying children will have two problems instead of one.
Unless of course the kids don’t need help with their masks — because they already know what to do. From you.
This doesn’t require being Captain Fantastic (great movie). I’m certainly not!
It just means: if we want to save our families, our communities — even the nation or the world — we have to be able to save ourselves first. Then share.
This requires knowledge, planning, gear, skills, and practice. But you’d be surprised how little it takes to be more prepared than the average bear. In the posts and weeks ahead, I will be sharing specifically how I prepare, in all facets of my life, with links to related resources where helpful, hoping it inspires you to find your own ways.
Now I have some hardcore prepper friends who would say: Mark, you’re misleading folks. It’s great you have 50 gallons of clean water and three weeks of long-term stored food, but what if you can’t get home? Or the crisis lasts longer? Or there’s an evacuation? And what about the fact that you haven’t bought your Glock 19, so someone comes to your house with their gun and takes all your stuff? What then?
These are valid points. But, as Voltaire said: the enemy of good is better.
There are no guarantees. I live in a big city. Depending on the nature of the calamity, this will either make my survival efforts easier or harder.
Some feel the best way to save yourself is to relocate to where critical resources are less scarce:
But, no matter where or how you live, you can still reduce the number of variables working against you and increase the number of tools and skills at your disposal. This is never a bad thing.
No one is disaster proof. But one can strive to be disaster resistant.
Yes, disaster readiness is serious business. When something goes wrong, and it definitely will, the preparations you’ve made and skills you’ve acquired — and the second nature with which you can put your plans and tools into action on behalf of yourself and others — could make a critical difference.
But one thing I’ve discovered firsthand: it’s easier to learn and retain readiness habits when it makes you feel good.
This is one of the reasons why high-end professional closet organizers are doing particularly well right now. In times of uncertainty or disappointment, the desire to feel mastery over some element of your environment is attractive: The Psychology of an Organized Closet
So let’s start with two simple things you can do right now — things I do in my own life — to be better prepared. They are simple. They make sense. They reduce variables. They will make you feel good for the right reasons.
You can go weeks without food, but you can only last days without water — depending on heat and your level of activity.
In my last post, What’s In The Bag (And Why?), I shared how I plan for water on the move.
At home, you should store one gallon of water per person/per day. For as many weeks as space allows. In my case, as there are two people in my house, I never have less than 42 gallons at any given time (14 gallons/week x 3 weeks = 42 gallons). I usually keep 50 gallons because, well, I’m an over-achiever.
Now I am fortunate to have a garage, so storing ten 5-gallon Arrowhead bottles is not a challenge. But even having three days of stored water (for a family of four that’s only 12 gallons) at home makes you better prepared than many. Through filtration and purification, you can stretch your supply. More here: Emergency Water Storage
WHAT HAS IT GOT IN ITS POCKETSES:
I get teased a bit for schlepping my backpack nearly everywhere I go. Sometimes, particularly in certain work situations, it’s just not appropriate. But there are three things I never go without: a whistle, a good strong flashlight, and an emergency $50 bill.
In Los Angeles, where earthquakes are among the likeliest form of disaster threat, getting trapped in or under a building is a real risk. If that happens, you’re not going to want to shout yourself hoarse, nor will you want to use your precious mobile phone battery for light when you can use it to text for help.
My Fenix E05 85 Lumen LED KeyChain Black Flashlight is the size of a ChapStick, tough and bright. The Acme Authentic British Police Whistle by Metropolitan is loud and shrill, and honestly I just like how it looks. It also fits better in my trouser pocket than a standard coach’s whistle.
THE EMERGENCY $50:
Cash is king in a disaster. Your Apple Pay will not pay. I carry cash generally as a rule, but alongside smaller bills mostly reserved for car parkers or tipping my favorite barista, I carry an additional $50. One time it helped me get a tire patched at a cash-only mechanic well off the beaten path.
There is so much more where this came from! In the months ahead, we will continue to learn how to secure our own oxygen masks. In doing so, not only may we become one less person who needs saving, we could also have the opportunity to help others save themselves. Now that’s an encouraging thought!