Prepping with an EMT

 Welcome to our first article in our Prepping with an EMT series designed to help those getting starting in emergency preparedness. We will cover many different topics that will help those who are new to emergency preparedness and are trying to figure out where to start, as well as the seasoned experts who are looking for new ideas and products to further increase their skills and preparedness.

 We will be exploring topics including survival techniques, water filtration and purification, fire starting, cooking, long term food storage, body armor, backpacks, knives, first aid and much more. We will also be doing product reviews and how to videos.

 When you first start looking into Emergency Preparedness, or Prepping, you are hit with information overload. Thousands of different people from various websites and stores giving you conflicting information that does nothing but to further confuse you and you are left to wonder, “Where do I start?” The goal of these articles will be to break everything down into small, simple, manageable bits of information that will help you decide what is best for you and your family safety and wellbeing during a disaster.

What is Emergency Preparedness, and why you should be doing it now.

 Let’s start with the basics. You have probably heard many different names and terms such as Prepping, prepper, and many others. Most people in the Emergency Preparedness community prefer the term Prepping to describe their emergency preparedness activities.

 Prep, as defined by Merriam-Webster is, “to make yourself ready for something.” Emergencies and disasters happen every day and you only have two choices in what you can do with that knowledge. 1, you can ignore it and go around life hoping that nothing happens to you, or 2, you can be proactive and make yourself ready for it. A Prepper is someone who is actively making themselves ready for an emergency or disaster, which is known as prepping.

 Why should you prep you might ask? Emergencies and disasters happen every day. Some are small, others are big. If you ever end up in an emergency or disaster, it does not matter how small or big it is, it is big to you. An emergency or disaster could happen on your way to work, to pick the kids up from school, on a business trip, on vacation, or even at home. Emergencies and disasters can happen anywhere and at any time.

 Why should you spend money on something when 911 is a phone call away? I’m sure everyone who lived on the gulf coast when Katrina came through wished they had stored more supplies. In some areas, it was weeks before rescue workers were able to get in. As someone who works in the 911 system, when seconds count we are minutes away. Depending on the size and scope of a disaster, it could take us hours, days, and in cases like Katrina, weeks to get to you.

 Do you want to be in that situation where help is unable to get to you for days, or even weeks and you have to explain to your family or kids why you chose not to store emergency supplies when you had the chance? What will you tell them while they suffer from hunger and dehydration? Having at minimum a few days of food and water stored for each member of your family could make all the difference when the next disaster happens and will give you peace of mind knowing you can provide for your family during a disaster.

 If you care about yourself, if you care about your family, then you will start setting aside food, water, and a few other essentials in case of a disaster. FEMA recommends that everyone store at least 3 days of food, water, and other essential supplies in case of emergencies and disasters. It is my recommendation after seeing disasters like Katrina and others, to have at least 2 weeks of food and water for each member of your family on hand.

What do we prepare for?

 Once you have taken the first step in deciding to start prepping, you first question is, “What do I prep for?” That is a hard question to answer as there is no one size fits all answer. There are a lot of different factors that determine what you should be prepping for. Factors include your general geographical location and your physical location. A lot of people I talk with feel that they should prepare for an economic collapse, an EMP, martial law, and many other nationwide or global catastrophes. Those disasters deserve serious consideration, and we will touch on those subjects as well in future articles; however, there are many smaller disasters that happen every day that you may not be aware of. You should start your prepping by focusing on these smaller, local disasters before fixating on the larger ones. Doing so could have a much larger impact on your family’s safety.

 As an EMT, I see many different emergencies and disasters every day. For most disasters, the people involved are simply not prepared. From car accidents where people are trapped in their vehicles, to injured or sick family members and coworkers where people are left to stand by helplessly and wait. In each of those situations, and thousands of others that happen every day, a little knowledge and training could have potentially made the difference between life and death.

 Take car accidents for example. Do you have a way of getting out of your car if you are unable to open the door or roll the window down? Do you have a fire extinguisher in your vehicle in case it catches fire? From firsthand experience, a vehicle fire is one of the fastest spreading and most dangerous fires you could face. In a matter of seconds you can go from minor smoke coming from under the engine, to the entire car engulfed in flames. What would you do tomorrow if you were taking your kids to school and you were involved in a car accident, unable to open the doors, and smoke starts coming into the car? Would you be able to get yourself and your kids out? That is just one example of the hundreds of disasters you could face tomorrow.

 Let’s take a look at geographical areas and large scale disasters to help give you an idea of what may affect you. If you live on the coast, you will be prepping for different disasters than someone who lives in Tornado Alley. If you live in a low lying flood zone, you will be prepping differently than someone who lives in the mountains. It’s going to be up to you to study your area and see what the biggest threats to your location are. Look at your local area and see if disasters such as these pose a potential threat to you: Tornados, Hurricanes, Floods, Droughts, Wildfires, Earthquakes, Snow, Home Invasions, Prisons, Chemical Factories, Refineries, Nuclear Power Plants and Reactors, and so many others.

How to Start Prepping.

 There are thousands of potential disasters you could prepare for, ranging from natural to manmade. It can be easy to focus on the big disasters and wonder, “How will I be able to prepare for everything?” The best thing you can do is to take a step back and focus on the little things, such as auto safety and home safety. Then as you start to figure out what the biggest threats to you and your family are, you can start to build your preps that best defend against those threats.

 Start by making sure you have a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, flares, flashlight, jumper cables, jack, spare tires, battery operated air compressor, and spare cash in your vehicle. Make sure you know where everything is, and that everything is in good working order. Those few things could get you out of dozens of small disasters.

 In your home, make sure you have working smoke detectors in each room of the house, a family first aid kit, current in date and charged fire extinguishers spread throughout the home, 3 days of non perishable food, water, flashlights, non electric cooking sources such as a grill, emergency cash safely stored, and an emergency supply of any medications you or your family may take. Make sure you know where everything is and how to use them. Routinely check your emergency supplies to ensure it’s in good working and will function properly when you need it.

 For those brand new to prepping, non perishable food is any type of food that has a long shelf life and does not require refrigeration. Non perishable foods include canned goods, rice, beans, flour, and freeze dried meals. Some non perishable items require special storage such as vacuum sealing or other methods to extend their shelf life. We will cover those methods in future articles. Remember when storing water, plan on storing at least 1 gallon of water per person, per day. That covers drinking and cooking only. That does not take in account for flushing toilets, bathing, cleaning dishes, or other uses. Please plan your water storage accordingly.

 Starting with the basics is the easiest way to get started in prepping and ensuring you are protecting your family. Once you get the basics down, then you can start focusing on the next major threat and slowly build up your preps. Remember, Rome was not built in a day. It will take time to figure out what is best for you and your family. It might help to set realistic goals such as; I will have 1 weeks’ worth of water stored in 1 week. In 1 month I will have 1 weeks’ worth of non perishable food set aside. Setting small goals will help you to focus on the daily tasks and will make it easier to achieve your overall preparedness goals.

 I hope these articles will help you to identify your local threats and help you figure out how to prepare for them. I hope this first article was able to get you in the mindset of thinking ahead for potential threats in your area. Our next article will focus on the most critical aspect of your preps and should be the first thing you store, water and water filtration and purification.

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