February is emergency preparedness month here at Old Fashioned Families, I will be sharing a post at least once a week about being prepared, and we will be talking about preparedness on the forums which you can visit here.
Disasters come in all sizes and shapes and can happen anytime or anywhere. This is a topic that we should all pay attention to no matter where we live, but there is plenty of debate as to how much preparedness we should engage in. At one extreme there are those that are prepared for any disaster, and could go months if not years on their own in the event of a disaster. On the other end of the spectrum is the government which says we should be prepared, but that 72 hours is plenty based on that is how long you might be on your own before they reach you.
I have seriously questioned for years whether 72 hours is enough, and yet my life is too variable to take into consideration any type of long term prepping. There is nothing wrong with long term prepping, but it is really for those that have the time, money, space, and dedication to make it happen. But because you are not cut out for long term prepping does not excuse you from being prepared for those situations you are likely to encounter.
In the end it is up to each individual family to decide what is enough or not enough, but I definitely think there is a big case to be made that 72 hours emergency preparedness is definitely not enough not even for the types of disasters we can count on happening throughout the country and the world on a yearly basis.
How Long is Long Enough?
The 72 hour figure is based on how long it will take the government to reach you and provide aid. In my mind there are two problems with this figure. First what if the government cannot get there that fast? It has happened in recent history, and it is not always the fault of the government. Is there access to the disaster area? What is the duration of the disaster, and how long will it be before help can be deployed? Has the government been affected by the disaster itself? And how wide spread is the disaster and the amount of aid that needs to be brought in? How quickly can workers restore utilities? All of these factors can affect how quickly aid can reach your family.
Another factor to consider is if the disaster is wide spread and it affects a lot of people, how much easier will it be for the rescue crews if you do not have to rely on them. If you are prepared and can survive on your own for 2 weeks then the crews will better be able to help someone else. Imagine if more people in a disaster zone were prepare, this would free crews up to help those who really need it.
It is also important to realize that the aid that may be available could be just the bare essentials, and may not be enough depending on your situation. If you have no shelter will they be able to provide some? What happens if you need life sustaining medication and have none? Perhaps your kids have food allergies and need a special diet? Maybe it is cold and you need heat. Do you have a way to communicate with the outside world? Take care of your pets? These are all considerations that should figure heavily into any plans you make.
For this reason I believe that it makes sense to be prepared for at least 2 weeks in addition to having a bug out bag that provides a minimum of 72 hours self-sufficiency. This allows you 2 weeks to get help, or seek out alternate living arrangements and 72 hours of mobile supplies if you must exit your home for any reason. A month or two is even better if you have the resources and space to do so. This gives you plenty of time to get back on your feet and for the government to clean up any mess and restore utilities.
Of course you may find that you need to adjust your preparations based on your home, where you live and the type of disasters you may be likely to experience. In coming posts we will explore what type of supplies you should keep, any special preparations for special circumstances, such as weather, and how to store your preps.
Disasters do happen, it is not a matter of when, only of where, and when it will be your turn. No one is immune to the types of disasters that can affect any of us, it could be bad weather, earthquakes, chemical spills, or even the loss of a job or health. Knowing ahead of time that you can take care of your family for the interim is critical and can ensure their safety and wellbeing, which is just common sense not being paranoid.