Lord Baden Powell coined the motto ‘Be Prepared’ for his beloved Boy Scouts over 100 years ago. I spent a couple of years as a Cub Scout with the Dayak Pack in Changi, Singapore in 1969-70 and I still remember the lessons passed on about being ready for whatever life might throw at you. The same lessons I was taught as a cadet in the Air Training Corps and later in both the Australian Regular Army and the Army Reserve. Even years later, as a civilian learning to scuba dive, PADI courses all underlined the need to ‘plan your dive and dive your plan’. Yet for most of us we go through life taking every day as it comes with little preparation for anything bad happening.
While a certain degree of ‘happy go lucky’ mindset is a good thing, too much of course will bring you little but grief and aggravation sooner or later. We don’t want to be ‘anal’ but we should pay attention to detail because the devil is indeed in the details. We should at the very least ‘think’ about what might go wrong and how it would affect us, then think about what we might do to adjust the outcome more in our favour. At the very least having given it some thought ahead of time will mean it is not such a surprise when or if it does happen.
So what should you be ready for? What constitutes ‘ready’? Do you want to be like those nuclear holocaust survivor types of the 1970s that holed up in mountain cabins and just prayed that Armageddon would happen? When the Cold War fizzled out in the early 90s they must have felt let down but soon enough we had 9/11 and then the Global Financial Crises and of course all of this is getting us ready to pay big taxes and fees for the next big money maker, global warming and climate change. As Goering remarked in the 1930s, you need that ‘enemy at the gates’ to keep the population under control, then if anyone dissents the others will cry him down as unpatriotic. But conspiracy theories aside, there are more than enough real dangers to prepare for to balance out any worries about becoming paranoid.
If the power was cut off for 24 hours, how would you cope? How would you cook your food or provide the baby with a bottle of formula? If you work from home then perhaps you would have to take the day off, can you afford that? Where else could you go to get some work done if the computer at home isn’t online? I have a Netbook that is always charged up and would give me several hours online as it uses a wireless broadband service I can tap into anywhere in the country. Failing that I would hit the local library or if they are powerless also, drive somewhere not on our grid and suffering. If the blackout were that widespread there would be little point me going online anyway, so why not enjoy the opportunity to ‘work’ some of the topics I lecture on and build up some anecdotes for the next lecture.
So I have thought about the problem and I have a plan. I also have camping equipment we can use to cook with, a portable toilet still in the wrapper (thank goodness) and there is always 20 litres of water (5 gallons or so) stored and refreshed every month. We have flashlights and candles and glow sticks in the freezer so our lighting problems are solved. In fact most households have everything they need to survive but they just haven’t organized it and put it all together yet. It is still out there in the garage and under the bed and in the spare room, waiting to be fused into something useful and useable.
This section of the web site will explore the more practical side of personal safety management, the proactive side. Things you can do to make a difference. I can’t think of everything so if you have some handy tips or see something I have missed, leave a comment… please. The tip might save a life and the life you save might be mine!