Getting a Spouse “On Board” with Preparedness

James Wesley Rawles;
I wanted to respond to the letter about how to get your spouse involved in preparedness. For several years I have been working as a preparedness consultant for individuals, families and groups who have an interest in preparing for disasters. I guide each group through a series of exercises to help them decide how prepared they want, choose and can afford to be.
I like to start with a discussion to see if everyone is on the same page. Sometimes there are reluctant participants.
I note that one usually learns to craw before they walk and walk before they run, so there is a learning curve one follows in life and in preparedness there is also a learning curve. The reluctant participants are in their crawling or earlier stage and time needs to be given for them to learn to crawl, Possibly to walk, and possibly to run. They may never get past the crawling stage, but the opportunity to learn is being given and it is their choice on how far they want to take it.
So lets start with crawling.
Those of you that have people you care for and are not all that interested in preparing for disasters need to encourage them to learn about possible disasters that can affect them. The basics of preparing is fairly common for all types of disasters with specialization for specific disaster events to be done after you learn to walk. You need to be patient with them. It has been said that one of the hardest things to do in life is to watch someone else learn what you already know/do. You can turn them off if you are too enthusiastic, talk over their head, overwhelm them with information. You have to let them learn at their pace and make their own decisions. You can provide them with information and encouragement to get them started.
So, what information would you provide them?
How about what types of disaster can occur that would affect them?
Set this up as a discussion, have a pad of paper handy to jot down all the possibilities. Brain storm (anything that comes to mind no questions asked you will sort through it later) all the possibilities all of you can think of. Here are some examples, earthquake, tornados, hurricanes, brush fires, floods, train derailment, power outage, loss of job, loss of insurance, pandemic, chemical spill at local factory, propane facility next door catches fire, Nuclear power plant you are down wind from, Truck drivers strike, Terrorist attack, Nuclear, Biological,Chemical and Explosive (NBCE), economic meltdown, going through the tribulation, martial law, dictatorship, gun confiscation/ownership ban.
OK, now you got a list of possible disasters, be they man made or natural. Now determine how much of a risk you are in for each of the mentioned disasters. This may take several days to several weeks to determine. You may have to assign people to research each disaster
and have several meetings to determine the risk you are in for each.
So lets take earthquake for the example. You live in Ohio and there have been several small earth quakes in your life time. That does not sound like much of a risk and then you do some research and find that two of the strongest earth quakes in US history took place due to the new Madrid fault and you are in the affected area. Stories of the time talk of the ground rolling like waves on the sea, whole forest laid over, rivers that ran backward for days . You also learn of the damage projected for the next new New Madrid Fault quake through your local Emergency Management Agency (or Office of Emergency Preparedness) also known as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and see you are at significant risk for damage ( your home is brick and they project high probability of brick homes suffering major damage including collapse in your area) and a prediction that the next big one could occur by 2040.
When you get all your information together you meet as a group and discuss all the findings. You then come to a consensus of how much of a risk you are in for each disaster.
The group decides there is significant risk for several of the disasters.
They then discuss the possible affects each disaster will have on them.
Again lets take the earthquake. The New Madrid lets go and it disrupts (destroys) all infrastructure within a 10 state area. Whole cities are believed destroyed cities like Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri. are mentioned.
Your home is brick and suffers major damage (i.e. Cracked walls, house leaning, no sewer, water, and electricity.)
What are you going to do?
Again brainstorm out what you are going to do.
Doing this for every listed disaster will again take time.
I have tinkered with the idea of developing a board or role playing as a learning tool. Play out what your group would do in each of these disasters. It would be educational and practical. Maybe Rawles can develop it as part of his blog.
After you discuss all this ask the question.
Do you think you should be prepared for disasters?
I have yet to get NO for the answer.
You are now in agreement you need to prepare, but now the question is how prepared should you be?
The two extremes of preparedness is 1) Do nothing to prepare and 2) The End of World As We Know It.
It is up to the group to decide how prepared they would like to be. I like to use Red Cross Preparedness hand outs for the basic (low end) preparedness i.e. Three day kit , short term preparedness (two weeks or less) and the novel Patriots for the TEOTWAWKI end of preparedness.
I believe in Patriots as a educational/resource tool so much I bought several cases of them from the publisher before they went out of business. I still have several cases left and can offer them to Blog readers if Jim Rawles doesn’t mind.
This may take the group several days or weeks again to read through the material and do their own research.
The group gets together and we discuss what they have researched.
They then decide how prepared they want to be.
Their decision then determines their plan of action.
This can be easier said than done when strong minded people are involved or there is major differenced in opinion. I do not have a good solution to this as it is up to the group, not me, to make the decisions.
At this stage of preparedness everyone should be “walking”.
I hope you note this takes time.
I have seen groups go through this process in one evening or weekend, but they already knew they were going to prepare.
Pending on the groups decision I would guide them in developing a plan of action. The groups found out once they had gotten through the planning stage and were pointed to suppliers of preparedness items they could go on their own. It was just to this point they needed help.
As to when one would be running. If they keep to the plan after two or more years. I have seen groups lose interest or just fall apart in the two to three year range, so if they stay together for more then three years are on target with their plans (which are amendable) and continue to prepare and learn they are up and running.
I mentioned earlier that the basics of disaster preparedness are fairly common, food clothing, shelter, Medical issues, Three Day Kit (Get Out Of Dodge), Disaster plan. This works good for the reluctant/unbelieving people as they can see the need to prepare and if they are not into the TEOTWAWKI scenarios their preparedness is still leaned in that direction and hopefully in time they will get the picture, if this is the picture you are striving for. Something I like about taking this approach is you should not get caught up in the Y2K type scenarios where you prepare for one scenario (specific date) and if it does not occur you think preparedness is for the birds and dump all you preparedness stuff. You will be preparing for disasters no matter what the cause and when they occur. Preparedness should be a life time commitment.
The specializing for specific disaster events may include protection from radiation, biological,chemical events. I am sure there are other events you will have to specialize for, but this gives you the awareness you need to seek them out and prepare as you see fit.
I have had groups learn their ability to prepare as they want to be limited by their means , so you will need to be aware of this in your planning. Some folks could only get enough together for Get Out of Dodge Kits and firearms for the family, but it is better than nothing.
I like to use Red Cross hand outs on preparing for disasters. They are available for download on the Internet and they cover your basic disaster plan. They are also a neutral organization. The preparedness information is a simple way to get others to think about preparedness. Hopefully they will prepare even if it is just the two week supply of materials and a three day kit, this might save you from having to defend yourself from them and create some allies in defending the neighborhood and bartering with. I have recommended people get their hand outs and put them in their three day kits, so they can either pull them out as a reference or if stopped by authorities just mention you are following your disaster plan you put together with the handouts to hopefully blend in with the other refugees.
Something I have done for family members is give them preparedness items as gifts, birthdays, Christmas, etc. These include first aid and three day kits for all the cars, Baygen radios and flash lights, power inverters, books on disaster preparedness, self defense items. Hopefully this shows you care about them, gives them something to think about and you can get into discussion on more involved preparedness issues. Remember, It is better to go slowly and let them determine what they are comfortable with than turn them off by overwhelming them with information and your beliefs in preparedness. – R.A.