Be Prepared

Why Be Prepared?

Life is uncertain, nature can be a powerful force, and bad stuff, unfortunately, does happen. Natural disasters happen in our country all the time, but being prepared isn't just about those immediate 'emergency' situations. It is about any short or longer term situations that threatens the safety, wellbeing and survival of your family. Australia is not immune to global financial issues, or depressions. Medical threats and Terrorist attacks could occur here. Crime and property damage happens. There are so many potential situations, that a basic contingency plan just makes sense. It's about risk management. Think about what *could* happen in your area? What is the more likely situation to occur? What are the worst outcomes if it did happen? How can you prepare to reduce, or eliminate, these?

In our area, the highest risk is bushfire. On a personal level, there is always risk of my husband being out of a job if something happened to the company he works for, or illness/ injury preventing either of us from working. Storm damage is quite possible, with emergencies from weather extremes less likely, though you can never rely on the weather to not be extreme, or completely unexpected. There is a fault line running through Canberra apparently so earthquakes could possibly occur! There is also some potential for terrorism, and politically motivated disasters. We are at risk of the supply chain breaking down for various reasons. Pandemics are not unrealistic, nor are food shortages and civil unrest.

Even if we think alot of this is never going to happen, it still makes sense to be prepared, just in case, and alot of the plans you make can cover a range of potential situations anyway. You simply cannot rely on 'someone else' taking care of you, like the SES or government agencies. If we can take some basic and inexpensive measures to protect and provide for our family, to build resilience in our community, reduce the stress on our local emergency and welfare services, and uphold some standards to help us through hard times, then we are going to do it. It doesn't have to cost alot, take alot of time, or be complicated. Each plan we make, or prep we take, is one thing more towards looking after ourselves in a 'situation'. If the situation never happens, that would be great!


We call ourselves Survironmentalists, which is the best of 'survivalism' and 'environmentalism'. What it means is, my husband and I want to be prepared for whatever may happen, so we can protect and provide for our family (as well as support the planet we live on, and the creatures and communities who live here). It can be tricky trying to be prepared and still be eco-friendly, but it's a matter of balance.

We are both working on being prepared, by learning skills, gathering equipment and goods, building community, and teaching our children. We are working on creating an Urban Homestead with our garden and house, to provide at least the basics for ourselves in a short or longer term situation, in our our home. We also know that sometimes, in an immediate or long term situation, you cannot stay, and evacuation needs to factor into our plans too.

Be Prepared Challenge - Short Term Emergencies

In January and February 2011, I set up a 4 week Be Prepared Challenge (which will be available in a downloadable/ printable document soon) but here are the posts:

Step 1 - O for Organise

This is the time to get organised, in physical and mental terms. You might need to declutter an area to set up for your storage (of stockpiled food & water, grab bags, emergency gear, important documents etc.). You can make evacuation & emergency plans, along with lists of emergency contact numbers, and community resources. You can also think of what skills & resources you have/ need.

Organise - Step One (Task 1 - Organise Yourself, Task 2 - Declutter)
Organise - Step Two (Task 3 - Organise an area for storage)
Organise - Step Three (Task 4 - Gather Your Important Documents, Task 5 - Household Inventory)
Organise - Step Four (Task 6 - Evacuation Planning)

Organise - Step Five (Task 7 - Emergency Communication, Task 8 - Gather information)

Step 2 - A for Acquire

This means emergency gear, food & water, equipment like 'hand powered' tools & alternate means of cooking/ heating. We will cover the in's & out's of stockpiling. It is also about acquiring knowledge and hard copies (printed pages in a folder, or books) of How To's, including those website guides put out by emergency service organisations.

Acquire - Step One (Task 1 - Consider what you will need)
Acquire - Step Two (Task 2 - Set up your Storage area, Task 3 - Gather & Make an Inventory of What you Have)
Acquire - Step Three (Task 4 - Gather Items for Stay at Home supplies)
Acquire - Step Four (Task 5 - Put together Emergency Kits for Evacuation)
Acquire - Step Five (Task 6 - Stockpiling Food)
Acquire - Step Six (Task 7 - Refine your Lists, Task 8 - Sort out your budget)

Step 3 - R for Restock (& Rotate)

How to create a schedule to keep supplies & food up to date, including Store what you Eat, and Eat what you Store.

Restock & Rotate - Step One (Task 1 - Ways to Restock & Rotate)
Restock & Rotate - Step Two (Task 2 - How to keep your stockpile safe)
Restock & Rotate - Step Three (Task 3 - Keeping your skills & knowledge up to date, Task 4 - Maintain Emergency Kits & Gear)

Step 4 - S for Spread the Word

Aimed at encouraging your family, friends, neighbours & colleagues to all Be Prepared, which helps everyone out when an emergency actually occurs. It's about making 'preparedness' acceptable, and 'commonsense' again. Alot of people already do the things I've mentioned above, but most people I know would look at me like I was crazy if I mention words like 'stockpile', 'grab bag' or even 'dynamo flashlight'!
Spread the Word - Step One (Task 1 - Get neighbours, family, friends, loved ones involved)
Spread the Word - Step Two (Task 2 - Building community resilience)
Spread the Word - Step Three (Task 3 - National Preparedess Program)

Immediate Emergencies

A natural disaster (either in Australia, or somewhere globally) is just one possible emergency event for Australians, which reduces, or cuts off, food supply, medical and hospital care, emergency services, petrol, power and water. You may need to live within your home during the time it takes for order/ services to be restored, which may mean providing your own food & cooking, water, hygiene & health care, lighting, warmth or cooling, entertainment & communications, and possibly waste management. You could also possibly have to evacuate in your car, or by a government agency, and you will need a suitable portable bag or two. An emergency kit and a plan of how your family will cope from 3 days to 3 weeks (or longer, of course) are essential. Here is what I think you will need, and then links with loads of information about what to put in them and how to do it.
Planning & Prep
  • At Home - Emergency Kit, Plans, Stockpile Supplies & Resources
  • Evacuate by Car - Grab Backpacks, Resources & Plans
  • Evacuate by Foot - Grab Backpack, Resouces & Plans
  • Emergency Contact No's - on your mobile, by your phone, in your grab backpacks
  • Personal Contact No's & Family/ Friends to Stay With - to keep in contact, arrange somewhere to evacuate to 
  • First Aid skills & kits 
  • Ongoing Schedule - Updates & Rotation of Supplies/ Resources
More Information

I believe that there may be hard times ahead, for those of us who currently live with certain expectations and standards (I understand that many already do experience hard times.) These include the possibility of energy crises arising during a post-peak oil transition period. Unemployment and depressions from the collapse of the economic paradigm our society depends on. Food shortages and climate change from environmental damage. All of which may create changes to our lives and way of living in the future. I don't have a timeframe, but if not within my lifetime, then within the lifetime of my children or theirs. You can find links on my blog to show the articles, books, movies and blogs where I've gathered my information and formed my beliefs from.

We are trying to prepare now for 'longer term' changes (food & energy price rises, unemployment etc.), by creating a self sufficient-ish Urban Homestead with our garden and house. More about this on my Urban Homesteading page. If nothing dramatic ever happens, then we will be doing something good for our family, and their families, the planet and our community anyways!

In the event of major food and petrol/ fuel shortages, economic crisis, civil and political unrest, poor standards (or complete lack of) hygiene, waste management, medical/ health care, public transport etc... consider how you will handle the following:

  • Food - producing your own, cooking methods and equipment, preserving and storing
  • Water - collection, treatment and storage, as well as pressure and household usage
  • Power and energy - solar? wind? set up and maintenance
  • Waste treatment - septic/ composting toilet, other
  • Transport - and the fuel to run it
  • Repairs and Maintenance - what equipment/ skills will you need to keep your 'machinery' and systems/ processes going
  • Education - what skills and knowledge you will need, as well as ongoing education of your children/ others
  • Health care - First Aid, as well as what natural remedies can you access, and what knowledge skills would you need
  • Communication - a tricky one, with possibly no internet, or mail system
  • Barter/ trade - what do you have to use as currency, what community & skills do you have
  • Defense and security - if you have it and others don't, how will you protect yourself and your family, and your property
Be prepared for facing an uncertain economic future, possible food shortages, price rises, possible unemployment rates increasing, environmental issues etc.)
  • learn to live frugally – keep to a budget, eating on a budget  
  • reducing debt and expenditure (see financial manager as required)
  • increasing your employability, through education, training courses etc. or for couples, where one of you doesn't work, be in a position where if that person needs to work, they are ready
  • stockpiling – food/ medicine/ clothes and shoes/ essentials 
  • start growing, raising and processing your own food, as able, to supplement your groceries
  • invest in equipment to aid self sufficiency & sustainability, as able (water tanks & pumps, vege and herb gardens, composting equipment, gardening equipment, tools and supplies, guide books, solar powered appliances or solar power systems)
  • if buying appliances, or 'big' items, consider buying better quality that will last longer, and need less repairs/ maintenance
  • maintain, service or repair equipment or appliances you do have
  • declutter your house and lifestyle... keep and store useful items (sturdy clothing, storage containers, blankets or camping gear) but sell, donate or remove unnecessary items. Declutter expenditures and luxuries from your life too that have little value. Considerations: what can be sold or bartered, how much space it will take to store, is this a need or a want?
  • increase fitness and improve health, including dental health, and reduce medicines, as able
  • start learning skills and gaining knowledge (survival skills, gardening, food preservation and storage, first aid, herbal remedies, water treatment, sustainable practices, sewing, knitting and ‘handyman’ skills)
  • establish your “community” with family, friends, neighbours or your religious/ other groups…. Encourage them to also learn skills and gather equipment to cover everything between your group/ community
  • support sustainability, within your own lifestyle, as well as in your community, lobby councils and government, and be an advocate
Am I Prepared Enough?

Sometimes I feel like I haven't done enough, but I remind myself that something is better than nothing. There is endless list of preparations you could make, and the extent to which you go to 'be prepared' can be to the extreme! It's hard when you start to think about this topic, and become aware of all the things that could happen, and how vulnerable we are. Don't feel overwhelmed by how much more you need to do, just take it one skill or plan at a time, and that is step in the right direction.

Finding the Balance

In amongst everyday life, we are trying to 'be prepared' (ie. the acquiring of equipment and materials, the building of community bonds, the learning of skills and gaining of knowledge). My biggest motivator is my kids and their future. I don't want to deny them a magical childhood, by worrying them about 'skills they must learn, knowledge they must gain'. I don't want to have them grow up & rebel completely against our values. I am trying to encourage them, show them it is fun and beneficial... which could help them have a wonderful life anyway (love that Theory of Anyway), and be prepared for any challenging times are ahead.

External Links to Read/ Watch/ Listen