The Outdoorwire.com FEATURE: "Semper Paratus": A good motto for you, too
(From TheOutdoorwire.com) EDITOR'S NOTE: With severe weather season on us, we know that most of us aren't as prepared as we need to be. With that in mind, we have created a relationship with Self Reliance Illustrated (www.selfrelianceillustrated.com) to tap into their expert network and offer solid information to our readers. We think you'll find today's first piece informative and helpful in "getting your mind right" about preparation: The United States Coast Guard motto is "Semper Paratus" which means "Always Ready." The Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared." What does it mean to be ready or prepared? I am not talking about stockpiling MREs and canned foods. I'm not talking about building a bomb shelter or hoarding ammo. I am talking about the state of being ready or being prepared. I believe there are two main parts to being ready. There is a mental part and a physical part.
Why do you need to be ready and what do you need to be ready for? It seems like the past few years we've been seeing more and more natural disasters. Blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, landslides, wildfires, and thunderstorms can strike and leave you in a tough spot. If a large storm knocks out power for millions do you have water, food, or warmth for your family while you wait for them to restore power? If you must evacuate due to a storm do you have a plan, a meeting place, somewhere to go, a way to get there? If there is a dangerous situation in your neighborhood and you are told to stay inside can you do so with essentials for your family? We also need to take financial hardships into account. If you lose your income can you feed your family if money runs short? Having some food stored away could be helpful in the wake of the stress of losing a job.
Think about our dependence on technology. Do you have maps if your GPS or your phone aren't working? Do you have cash on hand in case you can't use a card to get gas while trying to evacuate an affected area? Do you have important phone numbers or addresses written down? The world we live in continues to be unpredictable. Over the past year we've seen events both natural and manmade that have caused people to have to evacuate their homes or stay in them for several days. Hurricanes, blizzards, sinkholes, tornadoes, or other dangerous situations can derail your plans. During the hunt for the bombers of the Boston marathon they locked down neighborhoods. There are increasing reasons to be ready and aware and to be able to get out of a dangerous situation or stay in to avoid one.
There are two parts of preparedness. The mental part is to have the knowledge you need and a plan. As humans, we cannot know everything. We cannot know every process, fact, or happening. We can do our best to have a general grasp of concepts and by familiarizing ourselves with helpful information found in books, magazines, web sites, courses, and knowledgeable people. First you should evaluate what you know and what you should know. Maybe you are really good at tracking animals but you have never started a fire without lighter fluid. Figure out what you know and what you need to know. Then decide what to do to increase or hone your knowledge. Take classes, read, and practice.
Choose the most important things that you should know. Take a CPR course, learn some basic first aid, and learn how to deal with a medical emergency. This knowledge could save a life. Learn how to start a fire. If you are for some reason stranded outside could you make a fire for heat, food, and to boil water? There are many techniques and tools to choose from. Learn how to do this and practice. Could you provide water for yourself from the wild? Do you know where to get it and how to make it safe to drink? There are many techniques to purify water as well. Familiarize yourself with them. Could you feed yourself in the outdoors? Are you familiar with any wild edibles? Learn a few that are available in your area. Identify them. Acquainting yourself with a map and compass is another great idea. There are so many things to think about when it comes to having to get out of a dangerous place or staying in. Learn what you need to do to keep you and your loved ones safe in emergency situations.
Next, a plan. It is not realistic to try and plan for each possible event. Plan for the ones most likely to happen to you and your family. If you live on the east coast develop a plan if you have to be evacuated because of a hurricane. If you live in the Midwest make a plan as to what you will do when a tornado is spotted. If you live up north plan how you would live through a snowstorm that knocks out power for an extended period of time. Come up with a plan and discuss it with your loved ones. Make sure everyone knows the plan to limit chaos and confusion if you have to put the plan into action.
The physical part of being ready is having a body able to complete the needed tasks and the equipment to do so. Do your best to be fit so you can travel and handle stress. Take care of yourself so you can be helpful in a bad situation instead of a liability. Have the proper equipment or products you may need, keep them in working order, and know how to use them. Learn to replace water filters, sharpen knives, clean your rifle, use your camp stove. Do you have a bug out bag or a go bag? If your family had to evacuate unexpectedly would you be able to do so in time with the necessary items? Many people keep go bags that have necessary items just in case they have to grab and go. Make a go-bag, first aid kit, stock your pantry, and store water.
Do you have any first aid knowledge? Could you give CPR to someone if you were the only one around? Do you know how to clean and dress a wound? Do you have a first aid kit? If you do, have you opened it and familiarized yourself with what is inside?
Go out and practice basic skills. Take a compass on a hike, identify wild edibles, start a fire from a fire steel. You never know when these skills could save a life. Practice and keep your body familiar with performing these tasks.
If something happens you want to be able to take care of yourself and your loved ones and not have to depend on someone else for rescue. Don't become overwhelmed with these questions. Do something about these questions you don't know how to answer. You can't do everything at once. Start small. Pick an area to improve and do it. Make a plan and a to-do list. Talk to your loved ones to get them on the same page. When unforeseen circumstances are upon you being prepared will keep you from panicking and keep you clear-headed and ready for anything.
-- Erin Marshall
Erin is Executive Editor of Self Reliance Illustrated (firstname.lastname@example.org)