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Thursday, November 19, 2009

State of Mind, Part 2

The mental outlook you possess to tackle daily tasks or to live your life is incredibly important.  The last post was on the mindset of self-defense.   Emergency Preparedness gets the nod today.

I spent a good deal of my life in a field that was highly regulated by the government.  Because of the nature of the industry, having Business Continuity and Disaster Plans in place was required by law.  All of the companies in my industry had very impressive tomes that lined the shelves of their board rooms. 

The plans were written, but nothing was ever done with them.  Perhaps once a year, the employee contact sheets were updated, but little more was accomplished.  They were never tested.

Just before the Y2K panic, the government realized that this just wasn't acceptable, and required the companies to update AND test their plans.  IMO, it was a great example of how the government should act in its role as a regulator (and those are very few and far between!).

I was a Chief Information Officer at the time, and most of this planning and preparation fell on my shoulders.  It was a great experience and education, and also an incredible eye-opener. 

Our Board of Directors fought the testing, tooth and nail.  They saw it as an expenditure that wouldn't produce income.  To them, it was a waste of money.  They figured that we had a plan, and it would work flawlessly if something bad happened.  They couldn't see that spending a little money NOW could save us literally millions of dollars if a disaster struck.  And this was coming from a business located in the heart of earthquake country, San Francisco.

How many people do you know with the exact same outlook as my former bosses?

Many people will grudgingly put together a personal Emergency Preparedness plan, but how many have spent the time and money to test that it will actually work?  They figure that by having the plan, they're covered - nothing can harm them.  They never consider that Murphy's Law will be visited upon them, and their nice, neat plan will get turned on its head.  They don't have the mental toughness to challenge their own assumptions.

Oh, and FEMA will always be there to bail them out, right?  Yeah, nice Plan B.

Accept The Challenge

Don't give yourself a false sense of security by simply going through the motions of putting a plan together.  You have to test your plan, and test your assumptions.  You MUST assume your plan won't work as you've laid it out.

If your plan is to "bug in" during an emergency, what will you do if your house burns down or you can no longer reach it?  What happens if your stored water supply goes bad - do you have alternate sources and the means to make the water potable?  Do you have stored food and equipment in other locations, or do you have all of you "eggs in one basket?"

Change your mental outlook to include the very real possibility that things COULD turn out worse than you expect.  Think of it like a life insurance policy.  You don't expect to die before you are very old and gray, but you accept the idea that it could happen and have taken action to protect against that possibility - regardless of how unlikely it may be.

Test your plan as you've got it designed, but also test it by throwing as many variables as possible.

Copyright 2009 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Anonymous said...

I agree that every possible contingency should be reviewed and planned for. Sometimes, though, the mental effort and the potential problems this conjures up are very difficult to confront. If my house burns down, I'm essentially out of luck. I know it, but I haven't done anything about it because it's easier to say "that won't happen." Not logical, but true.

Andrea said...

So what recommendations do you have for storing food and goods in other locations? Are you suggesting we bury them in the woods somewhere or just stash them in the shed at the back of the property?

Chief Instructor said...

Hermit, it can be tough. You've got a set-up most would dream about! I can't imagine the impact a full-blown fire would have on you, though.

Andrea, I can tell you what I've done. I have a brother in the Sacramento area (50 miles away). I have a number of my plastic storage tubs with food, money and ammo in them. I have a brother-in-law down in Central California (225 miles away) with similar contents.

Both are sufficiently far away that most disasters would not directly affect all of us at the same time.

The stuff is squirreled away in their garages should we need them. They've also both been told that if TSHTF in their area, they are free (in fact, encouraged) to use the supplies as they see fit.

Somewhere down the road, I'll be doing a post on caching, in the traditional sense - burying stuff out in the woods. There are a lot of benefits, but LOTS of pitfalls as well.

You need to see what resources you have available to you, and plan accordingly. If you have family or close friends you can trust, consider doing reciprocal agreements. It will generally include a "yep, you have a place to lay your head if TSHTF". By having the food/supplies pre-positioned, you won't be unduly burdening your new host. Perhaps more importantly, you've talked about it up front so there are no surprises.

Andrea said...

hmmm...I've been pondering where we'd go should there be a local disaster of some sort and that's where I come up empty-handed. My mom lives within hollering distance, and my dad, well, that would be a LAST, ultra-last, rock and a hard place, (rather face the apocalypse than go there) resort.

Maybe you could do a post on choosing a bug-out location as well?

Chief Instructor said...

Great idea - it's now on the list!