I’ve never watched a single episode of The Walking Dead, but to say the zombie apocalypse thing doesn’t interest me isn’t accurate. I’ve just accepted my role: first eaten. It’s true. I’m not a runner. Ask my high school track coach.
Zombie food though I may be, I am a planner by nature, which is why it is always so striking to me when I’m caught off guard or unprepared. After talking with Dads, Dollars, Debts on Twitter and reading his post about his escape from the Tubbs Fire with his family, I got to thinking about the aspects of my life where having a plan simply isn’t enough. (Spoiler alert: it’s all of them.)
To-Dos Aren’t Enough
I am the queen of to-do lists. Paper planner? Check. Google Keep? Check. Sticky notes? Check, check, check. My to-do lists have to-do lists. I’ve got things to do.
And I get things done. In my classroom, I have a record of all the lessons I’ve taught. At home, I keep track of all of my completed side hustles. On the whole, my life is meticulously well planned when it comes to major milestones and daily tasks alike. I couldn’t tell you the last time I went out to eat without scouring the menu beforehand. Maybe in my pre-wifi days.
But when it comes to emergencies, knowing what you’re going to do simply isn’t the same as being prepared to act. For example, my mental checklist of what to do in the inevitable power outage is solid. I should know. I had a lot of time to think about it after the six outages we had last winter. #ThanksComEd. Locate flashlights that are tucked neatly in drawers on all levels of our house. Light candles that are also strategically placed with their lighters throughout my home. (Decor that doubles as a lightsource. Just call me Martha Stewart.) Turn off the AC or furnace in the event of power surges. Text message the power company. The list goes on.
But the first time the power actually went out last year? I was three months pregnant standing in the shower convinced that I was going to be the star in a reboot of Psycho. Flashlights, candles, text messages to ComEd all disappeared from my mind as I clawed around for a towel and screeched for Mr. P.
While no amount of practicing probably would have prepared me for the lights to go out in the shower, implementing what to do is a lot more helpful than just thinking about it. Even just talking through the plan with another human is much more helpful than holding all of that information in your head. Or a color-coded Google Doc.
No One is Invincible
The biggest reason, though, that I find myself unprepared is due to an ailment that has been plaguing mankind since Greek tragedies. In fact, it’s probably sketched on a cave painting in the south of France somewhere. You know what I’m talking about. Hubris. AKA Not Me syndrome.
No one thinks that a microburst will tear through their neighborhood, destroying everything in its path. But it happens. Just ask our roof that threw up shingles all over our lawn last year. No one thinks that their kid will need a second change of clothes during an appointment three minutes from home. But it happens. Just ask HP. Actually, don’t. The fact that we had to take him home wrapped in burp clothes the first time we left the house with him is still a sore spot. For us, not him. Thankfully that whole no-memory thing will work in our favor in this one.
The point is that just because something is unlikely doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Being prepared means confronting all sorts of grim realities—from the loss of personal property to the unexpected death of a partner or yourself. Think, hope, pray it doesn’t happen, but prepare anyway.
Preparation Isn’t Extreme
I have to be honest. For a long time, I equated being prepared for disaster with tin foil hats. At the very least, I thought being prepared for emergencies meant stockpiling your basement with food survival kits and taking notes on Naked and Afraid marathons on TV. But that simply isn’t true. Like anything, there can be an extreme side to preparedness, but really it’s just common sense.
What We’ve Done:
- Created a mini stockpile of canned goods, bottled water, infant formula and containers to store more water.
- Stocked our trunks and glove boxes with umbrellas, flares, jumper cables, spare tires, blankets, and cash.
- Added light sources, including candles, flashlights, glow sticks, lighters, and matches, to all floors of our house.
- Stored emergency contacts in our phones.
- Signed up for emergency alert messages (usually emails and/or text messages) through the city and through our utility providers.
- Review our life insurance coverage.
- Checked our insurance policies for coverage details and fine print (I see you, no flood insurance.)
- Added a rider to our insurance (to cover my bling bling–I wish I was kidding).
- Planned ahead by reviewing infant and adult CPR (Mr. P is certified).
- Curated a medicine and first-aid station in a closet.
- Funding and preserving an emergency fund.
What We’re Doing:
- Babyproofing all the things.
- Working on our will.
- Adding more life insurance.
- Re-inventorying our household medicines and first-aid items.
- Buying a fire extinguisher since ours is dated and I’m terrified my crockpot will burn the house down one day.
- Figuring out where to keep cash safely in our house (paper money runs through my fingers like water).
While I’m still not swapping a shed for a bomb shelter out back, I do think there are plenty of ways to prepare for emergencies without going to any extremes. Once you have a plan in place, talk it over and practice it. That way, you won’t be caught off guard in the shower or anywhere else.
So Tell Me…In what ways are you prepared for the unexpected? What do you need to work on?
To get tons of other insight and ideas about preparing for all sorts of emergencies, I encourage you to check out all of these posts by what will eventually be dozens of bloggers. A huge thank-you to Chief Mom Officer for getting this blog chain going:
Anchor: DadsDollarsDebt – Tubb’s Fire – A Sudden Evacuation
Anchor Two: Chief Mom Officer – Going Beyond The Emergency Fund-A Harrowing Escape Inspires The Personal Finance Community
Link 1: OthalaFehu – Cool As A Cucumber
Link 2: The Retirement Manifesto – Am I A Prepper?
Link 3: Mrs. Retire to Roots – In Case Of Emergency Follow The Plan
Link 4: The Lady In Black – Emergency Preparedness
Link 5: The Green Swan – Preparing For The Worst
Link 6: Minafi – Minimal Hurricane Preparation
Link 7: A Gai Shan Life – Earthquake and disaster preparedness
Link 8: The Financial Journeyman – Emergency Preparation: Be Proactive
Link 9; John And Jane Doe – Thinking the Worst: Emergency Planning or Fighting the Last War?
Link 10: Adventure Rich – Emergency Preparation Up North
Link 11: Money Beagle – How Much Would You Replace If You Lost Everything?
Link 12: Crispy Doc – Fighting Fire With FI/RE