As I write this, we are in the midst of a preparedness situation throughout large parts of the country, and in Texas, the S has most certainly Hit The Fan. No, not that “S”, the SNOW “S”.
An arctic vortex has driven snow and freezing temperatures across most of the nation in the last 24-36 hours and the cold is expected to remain all week. This is a situation where REAL preparedness skills and awareness could have saved lives and made things more comfortable for some of the affected population.
The low temperatures and an entirely predictable “natural gas shortage” has a led to no power and no heat in large parts of the country, raising the risk. People with generators are having a hard time locating open gas stations to buy gas, and people are sleeping in their running cars, which is DANGEROUS, especially in heavy snow, as snow can block your tailpipe, causing carbon monoxide poisoning quickly.
We are seeing a large scale FAILURE TO PREPARE highlighted by this.
What? You mean preparedness isn’t just buying an AR platform rifle in every single hard-to-find weird caliber and a whole bunch of ammo? I feel robbed. That’s all anyone ever told me I’d need. I was fully “prepared” like most of the YouTube guys told me to be…prepared to have an entirely unrealistic & hypothetical discussion on terminal ballistics and how much damage my special-but-impossible-to-find-after-a-collapse ammo will do to ballistic gel (despite there never having been a single attack on a human perpetrated by ballistic gel).
As I was scrolling Twitter, I saw lots of outrage at the power outages, blaming the power company, the government, and in more than a few cases, the Chinese.
The fact of the matter is that if you are wholly unprepared for a power outage, the only person you can be angry at is YOU. The lack of personal responsibility is the problem in America today.
One guy, who has a small baby at home, complained that his power had been out for 8 hours and he didn’t know how he was going to keep the baby warm and WHY DOESN’T SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING?!?!?!?
Seriously? As a father, the safety of your child is YOUR responsibility and relying on “someone” to provide for you is juvenile. As the father of a small child, you should consider that the power goes out for all kinds of reasons. Sure, it’s colder than normal in Texas, but if you didn’t consider buying a few extra baby blankets, that’s on YOU.
Ok, so the first lesson learned is that YOU are responsible for providing for yourself and your family, no one else. That’s why you have a job, that’s why you do everything that you do.
The next lesson, is in information gathering. I know, you’re thinking, WHAT??? Yes, information gathering. Military intelligence briefings always begin with the weather forecast for the next 72 hours. Simply paying attention to a weather forecast can actually save your life. If you lived in a warm climate, and saw that the temperature was forecast to go very low for your area, and that you were about to get snow, which your area has no ability to deal with, shouldn’t that prompt you to take some action to prepare?
Pay attention to the next 72 hour forecast. No, not an extended 2 week outlook. A 2 week outlook is a GUESS. You can’t accurately predict weather beyond the next 48 hours, and the extra 24 hours is an EDUCATED guess. Ask any meteorologist and they’ll agree with this assessment. Think back to your own life history and ask yourself, how many times has a completely unexpected weather event happened? Quite often.
Here’s an example…My extended forecast says that by next Monday, Metro Detroit will be back in the high 30s. If I relied on that, and failed to shovel my driveway, what would happen when the temperature stays low or we get more snow? Nothing good. Next 72.
Once you’ve gathered the forecast information, if it’s something unusual, consider what the worst case scenario is. In this case, it’s exactly what we’re seeing today….power outages at the same time that heating gas has run short, and the roads are impassable. If you had thought this out BEFORE the event, you could have taken steps to mitigate the worst case.
You would then decide that to prepare for the worst case, you would need to do the following BEFORE the storm hit:
- Fill all cars with gas.
- Get some extra gas in cans.
- Buy enough food to last 2 weeks.
- Buy more water.
- Obtain a generator or batteries.
- Ensure all battery-operated lights and radios work.
- Secure power inverters to charge devices without grid power.
- Secure blankets or additional heating methods (I have BOXES of hand & body warmers).
- Stock up on any needed medications, both prescription & OTC.
- As roads will be impassable, double check all first aid kits.
- Ensure that vehicle emergency gear is stocked in the cars.
- Have a plan to secure your family, as law enforcement/fire service may be unavailable.
Just these few steps could have made life easier for everyone involved. If you did all of this, and the worst case didn’t happen, you will still use everything that you bought. You’ll use the gas normally, you’ll eat the food (and not have to shop for an extra week). You can always use water.
Consider your pets as well. Have things to keep them warm, and ensure that they have food. When planning your emergency water needs, understand that they need a lot of water as well.
If you read the list again, you’ll realize that those basic steps prepare you really for any emergency.
This brings me to another lesson learned….As I scrolled Twitter, I engaged with some of the people who were complaining about the situation, asking them what steps they had taken to prepare. The most common answer as, “Well, I live here, so cold isn’t what I prepared for” or “I had prepared for a Chinese invasion/Hurricane/earthquake/reptilian overlords revealing themselves”. Those are fancy ways to say “NOTHING AT ALL”.
Never prepare for a specific event, prepare for the effects of that event. I frequently remind people on this blog to analyze what the second and third order effects of situations are, and THOSE are the situations you prepare for.
Take any of the examples above and you’ll see that no power & no heat in the middle of winter could certainly be a second or third order effect of any scenario & therefore if you prepared for that, you would have been ready.
Have you ever watched any of the Prepper shows on TV? I swear that they seek out the most backwards, unintelligent, and conspiracy-driven people to feature on purpose, to make preppers look crazy.
However, if you get past whatever doomsday scenario they present as their reason for preparing, you’ll see that they all end up taking similar steps, such as stacking food to the rafters, securing a supply of water, gathering first aid supplies, and seeing to their own security. All of those steps are because the second & third effects of everything is you needing to survive without reliance on grid power, gas service, food/water supply, or law enforcement protection.
You should be preparing with this idea in mind, rather than your specific plan to repel the Chinese airborne troops allegedly crossing Lake Superior in rowboats or the Russian paratroopers landing at Calumet High School during the history class.
As far as the “But I live in a warm place” comments…Being prepared also means being prepared to move. You may live in a warm climate but need to evacuate to a cooler climate. Have basic cold weather gear.
For example, you don’t plan on living in a house that’s on fire do you? But you have at least one fire extinguisher in your house don’t you? And why? In case that unlikely event happens. The concept is exactly the same.
So to recap, here are the lessons:
- You are the only person responsible for your preparedness.
- Gather all the information you can on any threat, in this case the weather.
- Having general emergency preparedness helps in any situation.
- Prepare for the worst case and anything less than that is easy.
- Prepare not for specific events, but for the effects of events.
- Don’t just prepare for high-probability events, low-probability events kill, too, usually because you weren’t ready for them.
I hope this helps you.
My biggest lesson learned in the Snow-Pocalypse of 2021: That a large Australian Shepherd playing in the snow piles doesn’t really “help” you shovel the driveway, no matter how much she tells you she is helping.
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