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Practical preparedness Planning


Planning is the most underrated aspect of preparation. There is no tangible gear or skill to attach to planning. It is simply critical thinking and analysis. Sounds terrible, I know. We must recognize its importance; and look at preparedness, specifically planning in a very practical way. In this article, we will avoid phrases like bug-out and bug-in because I believe our language needs to be universal. Using terminology common to Emergency Services, such as evacuating instead of bug-out, can help in various ways. That is to say; there is nothing wrong with buggin’ out. The purpose behind this is that whether we like it or not, the government (all levels) will somehow be involved in all that is going on, so it helps to understand what they’re doing. As stated, “Local governments are the first line of defense against emergencies and disasters and are primarily responsible for managing the response to and recovery from those events.” (FEMA, 2003). It is essential to recognize this because it will impact your planning and decision-making.

Having been a part of various types and scales of planning teams, from hurricanes, combat operations, contingency operations, emergency operations and everything in between, I know planning can seem boring and overwhelming. There have been times I wanted to poke my eyes out. The good part is the lessons I have learned can easily be transferred to planning for a family’s safety and security. I’m going to share two aspects of planning and information here on how you can better make your plan(s) so that when the rubber meets the road, you can handle almost any unforeseeable event.

Critical Thinking: (these are questions you need to ask yourself so you can better devise a plan)

-What is the most probable significant event that may occur? (EMP, civil unrest, or flooding?)

-What natural events occur in your area? (Tornado, Flash flood, etc.)

-What advanced notification systems do you have access to? (CODE RED, Emergency, NBS etc)

-What local resources are available to you? (What can you rent, borrow, use, etc)

-What evacuation locations are available to you? (do you have other properties, permission to use, etc)

-Can you get to the evacuation location? (what roads, maps, and directions; you may have to change locations on the fly)

-Do you have agreements with family, friends, and partners for mutual support/aid? (are you linking up with others, do you have a rendezvous point, who is bringing what etc)

-Have you conducted a site survey on other locations? (have you traveled to other, and checked the resources, suitability, is it established infrastructure, communications etc)

-Do you have the resources to stay in place? (fresh water, food, power, fuel, hygiene, are you bringing others in, how does that affect your resources)

-Do you have the resources to evacuate? (finances, reliable vehicle, fuel, water treatment capabilities, maps etc)

These are a few questions to ask in the critical thinking phase of planning. It is throwing all the spaghetti on the wall and figuring out what is most likely to occur, what you can mitigate potential risks and more. It also allows you to see some of the shortfalls before training or executing your plans in real-time. You need to train (exercises) to these plans to see the shortfalls and lessons learned to address and correct those issues. This is about muscle memory but it’s also about testing concepts and executability. How else will you know if your plan works unless you periodically test it?

Analysis: (this is where you start looking at all the resources to address your needs)

Hurricanes: (The list below is one example of an event that applies to critical thinking)

≤ CAT II stay

≥ CAT III leave

Evac route(s) Shelter in Place Plan Local Shelters Plan Communications Plan

Personal Bag(s)

Generator/portable/home or both

Fresh water supply


Vehicle Maintenance

Road conditions Topography Distances

Government Response [local (city and county, and for you Louisianans - Parishes), state, federal]

The analysis phase is where you dig into the weeds on the event(s) that you have chosen. In the example, we used hurricanes. Now the topics listed would be an even greater list, but this should provoke the thought. This is where you go into detail on each of the topic points. A great place to start is the 5W’s (who, what, when, where, why, and how). What does your shelter-in-place plan look like, what does that even mean? Do you have the infrastructure to shelter in place? Is your house made of brick, wood, or vinyl siding? Do you have a sub-basement, attic, slab foundation, etc? Above ground power lines, underground powerlines, Backup generator(s)? The deeper the dive, the more you will mitigate risks, threats, etc. This is an excellent time for a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis.

There are so many factors to look at, which can appear overwhelming. If you can organize your thoughts and analyze your concerns, you will make a good plan. Find a systematic approach that works for you because “following a set of logical steps that includes gathering and analyzing information.” (FEMA, 2021) There are many formulas, but you have to do the preparation and planning to succeed. We will conduct more in-depth education on preparedness in future blog posts and classes.

One great place to start is with CampCraft Outdoor’s online Urban Survival Program:

This course provides great information on planning and executing your skills/plans.

Works Cited

FEMA. (2003). A Citizen's Guide To Disaster Assistance. Retrieved from FEMA Emergency Management Institute:

FEMA. (2021, September). Emergency Management - Planning Guides. Retrieved from Federal Emergency Management Agency:

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