Opportunities and Calamities

We feel that by setting goals and planning you train for opportunities and calamities.

We want you to be prepared for whatever life brings you.



Food and Water

In preparing for having the available resources for my family in an emergency, I found the answer to one question became important in terms of the planned solution(s), i.e., in terms of how I provide for the basics of food, water, and shelter.

The question is:  “Am I planning for a situation where I will stay put, that is, “operate” from home or will I be leaving home and “operate” from some different location?”  The answer to this question forced me to account for both scenarios particularly when preparing for water and food needs:

  1. Operate from home:  Have survival supplies on hand at home with the home remaining as the shelter; and,
  2. Operate away from home:  Have survival supplies that are mobile with the shelter being initially my vehicle(s)  as we travel and then transitioning to some other semi-permanent one (family or friends homes, hotel, tent, etc.)
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For example, for survival we need water, food, and shelter at a minimum. In order to keep costs as low as possible, I’ve decided to select products that I can take with me if I had to leave the home (e.g., storm evacuation) but that would also support survival at home if I didn’t need to leave.  This is my primary support line.  I could then supplement this primary support line with items that are not so portable, but that would take care of us for a longer period of time (e.g., wide scale food shortages, very high food prices, unemployment or income loss, etc.)  I also want to be able to build these “support lines” a little bit at a time, now and before any actual need arises, again so I don’t hurt my current cashflow and to avoid bare store shelves.  You can do your own research online for food (Food Insurance ) and water storage options (Water Barrels and Storage.)  There are links to several ones on this site.

As far as water storage is concerned, I hated going to the store to buy water when the news warned of an approaching storm.  I felt a little foolish going to the store when everyone knew what I was looking for and perhaps realizing I wasn’t going to find what I needed.  I knew this because that was the reason they were also in the store and had already purchased all the batteries and bottled water.  I don’t like that feeling and I don’t like seeing an empty shelf where something I need for my family used to be fully stocked, perhaps as late as this morning.  I have always filled my tub with water (using a plastic liner in the tub so the water didn’t slowly seep out through the drain cap), but if I needed to evacuate that didn’t help me…can’t take the tub with me.  I needed a more mobile solution.

I’ve found water storage containers and advice on storing water long-term via the “Water Barrels and Storage”  and  “Water Storage Info” links.  You can get storage containers that are small and others very large (185 gallons and more) that would be great for home storage, but not all are very mobile.  One gallon of water weighs a little more than eight (8) pounds, so once the 185 gallon tank is full you really can’t move it easily.  I liked the 15 gallon container   When it’s filled, it weighs around 130 lbs so it can be moved and lifted into a vehicle though it may require two people to lift.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, suggests we plan for one gallon of water per day per person and for at least 3 days for drinking and sanitation.  The 15 gallon tank holds enough water for the four people at home for about 3.75 days and I can load it into my car.

I found a couple options for food storage as well; long-term food storage meant for home and short-term food storage in mobile containers.  My priority has been on building a dual use food supply, that is, mobile but can be used at home as well, so for now I’ll simply address that option.  I’ve set a goal to build up a supply that I can take with me easily without taking up too much trunk or cab space and could support us for a week or two.  I like the six (6) gallon weather proof bucket that supports one person for one month.  It’s portable and can be used even if I don’t have to leave my home.

Since my plan calls for using two vehicles if I were to leave, I can  stock both vehicles with enough food and water for four people for at least one week.

This isn’t the total emergency kit of course, but I hope you found some ideas and resources here and that it helps with your planning process.  I’m now looking at the long-term solutions to get set for any potential large move in food prices, shortages, etc that we’ve seen occur around the globe should they occur where I live.




Able to Help or Looking for Help?

Still unsure if taking the time now to plan for some crisis is worth it for you?  Then let’s consider this from a different angle.  The question comes down to this one:  In a crisis, will you be the one “able to help” others or the situation, or will you be the one “looking for help” from others?

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with receiving or needing help in such situations.  Even if it were possible for you to foresee every potential issue and could plan for it, there is only so much you can do ahead of time and with the resources at your disposal.  In fact, there is a saying, attributed to Carl Von Clausewitz,  that goes “no plan survives first contact with the enemy.”  The enemy here would be the crisis situation your plan faces.  So what is all this need for planning and readiness about?  Why do I keep bugging you about it?

Your planning allows you to:

  • Not panic.  In a sense you’ve faced the situation before in your planning and you’ve accounted for the basics necessary for you to survive for some amount of time.  You have bought yourself some time.
  • Respond more effectively.  Since you’re basic needs are known and addressed to some degree, you’re free to NOT have to deal with those issues along with everything else that the situation is presenting you.  You can respond from a stronger foundation.  You’ll be better able to recognize the issues that you hadn’t planned for that now need to be addressed.  There should be fewer issues to deal with in an already stressful time.
  • Better able to help.  While those that hadn’t planned or are direct victims of the situation are looking to get immediate help for their basic survival, you may be in a position to assist them.  Because you weren’t directly hit by the situation and/or had made some plans to meet your basic needs,  you could be better situated to provide the assistance or help them find the assistance others need.

Realize you can’t account for everything.  When some crisis is upon you, your readiness state is what it is when it hits.  You may have even done all your planning and yet the crisis directly impacted you to the point where you resources and ability to enact the plan are gone.  Still, I believe there is  peace in prior planning.  Survival odds are increased.  It is very similar to why people train.

In learning to fly I had to practice many emergency situations.  I had to practice the maneuvers required for each emergency situation.  For example, how do you respond if your engine shuts down in flight?  Also, how do you respond if your airplane stalls (no more air going over the wing and all its lift is gone) and your plane begins to lose altitude?  I hated practicing this stuff.  Honestly, it frightened me to think that I might one day be in such a situation.  Planning for such events even if they may not be that likely to occur is critical to survival.  I was very grateful for that planning and training when I inadvertently caused my airplane to go into a downward spin from only 3000 ft above the ground one bright sunny day.  While I was losing over 1800 ft of altitude, I was able to stay relatively calm as I began going through the steps that I’d been trained to do that would recover the aircraft and return it to normal straight and level flight.

Flight attendants brief passengers about the safety features and emergency response actions required of each passenger on every flight before takeoff.  Schools have drills for fire, tornado, and now intruders on school premises.  You could go on and on.  All of this is to allow you to NOT panic, respond more effectively, and be able to help others.

Children and spouses will look to you for answers to “what do we do now?”  Whether the “crisis” is a storm, a need to evacuate, a job or income loss, loss of power,  you no longer have the education or training businesses are needing, etc., make your plan.


Personal Readiness

Identify and Plan

Before anything else identify.

“Halt! Who goes there?”;  “Name, please.”;  “What is your purpose here?”

These are words we hear perhaps from a guard in a movie when someone approaches the very thing the guard is charged with keeping secure or unimpeded.  If the responses to the questions don’t mesh with the guard’s mission, the guard needs to block, eliminate, or otherwise stop the “intruder” from impeding that which the guard protects.

Instead of a guard whose mission is to keep someone locked up, I like to think of this scenario as one where the guard is protecting something that is good from those that would otherwise cause harm.  In this sense, the guard acts as a filter.  The guard lets those people through who are sympathetic or congruent to the thing, idea, people, etc that are being protected.  The guard also filters out, doesn’t let through, those things, ideas, people, etc that mean to harm that which is being protected.

Now let’s think of this in terms of what you want to accomplish.  For example, your goals and dreams.  And let’s assign a guard.  The guard’s mission is to protect your path towards accomplishing your goals and dreams.  The guard’s task then is to filter out anything that comes up in your life that would disrupt or dissuade you from your path, as well as, allow through any assistance (resources, mentors, education/business opportunities, etc) that would support, enhance, or otherwise encourage and keep you on your path.

To accomplish this appropriately, you’ll need, of course, to identify what your goals and dreams are.  Once you have those identified, you can build a plan that includes specific milestones or markers along the way that will let you know you’re on the right track.  Additionally, you can provide yourself with some accountability by finding a mentor or reading and following experts and others who have successfully traveled down a similar road.

Your plan with specific milestones and your accountability source comprise your “guard.”  This guard can quickly show you if what you spend time on, whom you spend time with, and how you manage your resources are inline with your accomplishment of your identified goals and dreams.  Your plan and accountability partner together filter out the detractors and filter in the assistance.

Your plan by way of protecting your path asks of those people or events you encounter daily,

“Halt!  Who goes there? What is your purpose here?”

Identify your goals and dreams.  In fact, many people have goals and dreams.  They’re missing a plan, a guard.  Develop your plan and assign your guard the mission of protecting your path.

Today, If The Power…

Here’s a handy readiness exercise.  Ask yourself:

Today, if the power was out to my home, what would I NOT be able to do?  Make a quick list.  Your list could look similar to this one:

  • I couldn’t cook because my stove is an electric range;
  • I’d need some lighting for the kids to do homework by tonight;
  • I won’t have the TV, but not only will we not be able to watch our normal shows, we won’t be able to watch the news to stay informed either;
  • I won’t be able to charge my cell phone in the house;
  • We won’t be able to use our computer; or maybe the laptop can be used but only until the battery runs down because we won’t be able to recharge it;
  • My kids don’t have keys to the house, as they typically come in through the garage door code (via an electric opener from the outside)  when they return from school.  Many/most are battery operated, but is yours?
  • I may not have any heat for the house;
  • and so on….

For each item on your list, come up with a plan or alternative source.  Some items on your list may not be that critical and you can decide now that that wouldn’t be an issue.

Additionally, you could add a column to your list that suggests the power outage could last greater than 48-72 hrs and another column for if the entire neighborhood is out of power.  How does that change your planning?  Maybe have full fuel tanks in your vehicles becomes important as well.    It’s good to look at these things ahead of time.

Keep the list along with your planning notes.  Shop for needed items now and refer to your plan when the time comes and rest.

Readiness is about being able to wait.

Which Are You?

It seems to me that in most relationships, one person just acts at the moment based on the situation at hand.  In a sense this is the “get things done” individual.  The other person “builder” compensates by trying to prepare for “come what may” so when things come up (crises, social events, loss of income, etc) the “get things done” individual will have something to work with.   For those “get things done” individuals not in a relationship or those “builders” who just want assistance and perhaps support, we hope www.beforeyouneed.com can be your “builder.”

My spouse is a “get things done” individual.  I sometimes wonder if her philosophy is “don’t bore me with facts, I need to make this happen.”  It’s truly a way of thinking that is nearly incomprehensible to me, yet I’d love to have some of that bent of mind myself.  I’m much more of a builder.  I can “look ahead” and “see” what we might need in the future and then take action to make ready.  She is a great complement to me.  I am thrilled when we  encounter something (unexpected bill, big storm, etc) that causes her to say “ok, this has happened let’s address it” and I can show her the resources or plan we have to take care of it.  Those resources that I’d built up.

Are you a “get things done” person or a “builder?”  Let us help.


Nor’easter dry run

Looks like a storm is brewing for next Thursday/Friday (January 12/13) for the northeast US.  Right now it looks like rain and then snow showers and winds picking up as a low pressure system begins moving up the east coast on Wednesday overnight and moves into the northeast Thursday and Friday.  If you’re from that area, you’re probably thinking “that’s not a storm!”   While it doesn’t have the nor’easter formation characteristics and appears drier and warmer than your winter storms, you can use this as a dry run for preparing yourself for this winter’s coming storms.

Keep in touch with local weather forecasts in your area in case the pattern changes, taps into more moisture, and the storm becomes more of a snow event.  In the meantime, take time now to check your storm kit, resupply your batteries, blankets in car, etc and be ready for the next storm even if this one remains uneventful. I like the peace of mind in knowing my kit is already available.  Build yours now or purchase a ready made kit and store it.  You know winds, snow, power outages, and etc are coming.  Prepare now and enjoy the peace of mind.

Make It So

Ok.  It’s December; old, non-functioning seasonal decorations have been replaced, new ones have been added, and gifts have been purchased.  You may have already found yourself thinking “next year, I’m going to be putting a little money aside every week as a gift fund so we aren’t so strapped for cash next December.” Don’t beat yourself up about this, but use it as energy to act.

Use that feeling to commit to forming a plan for yourself and family, but not just about the holidays.  Make this plan a two to three year plan, so it’s not about resolutions but a deeper path you want to forge for yourself.

Visualize:  Pick a date, lets say three years out from today, or some date close to that far out (not further) that has meaning for you and project yourself in your mind forward to that time.  Describe for yourself, write your responses down on paper:

  • Where you are living? House? Location? With whom? Do you own it?
  • What will a typical day entail for you?  Are you working? For yourself? someone else?
  • What pays your bills?  Business? Employment? Investments? Lottery? (just seeing if you’re still with me.)  What is the nature of that work?  How much do you work? From where do you work? Office? Home? Travel?
  • What do you do for inspiration and fun?  Travel? Charity work? Spend time with good friends? How often?
  • With whom will you associate?  Is there someone you’ve wanted to work side by side with because you’ve admired their accomplishments?  Will you be working side by side with them?

Once you have the future state pictured in your mind and written down so you can review it, you can then consider what happened along the way to get you there.  Pretend you are at that future date and being interviewed about how you got here.   Answer and write down as appropriate for you:

  • I learned…
  • I raised the money I needed by…
  • I started spending more time with people doing…
  • I started reading from ….
  • I got serious about my future and enlisted the help of …
  • I helped…
  • I prepared for obstacles by…
  • I …

Put beginning dates on when you started doing the things that got you there, schedule it and work it.

This process does a number of things beyond simple goal setting:

  • It sets your mind up to be more attuned for those events, people, opportunities, etc that can aid your progress.  Therefore, you’ll recognize it when you see it.  This is akin to buying a car and then all of a sudden you begin to see “your car” everywhere on the road.
  •  It gives you lead-time so you can  prepare and be ready for each stage.
  •  It can help you quickly determine spending priorities; e.g., will purchasing this item further me on my goal or is it a bit of hype or a distraction?
  • It can help you stay on track with appropriate associations and time expenditures.

Lastly, although there are many “I”s in the pretend interview section above, that doesn’t mean the path to your goal is a solitary endeavor.  Enlist the help of appropriate others always.  The “I”s point to the key link in this journey…only “I” can choose begin to act or not.

Author:  Paul LaPointe is host and frequent contributor for beforeyouneed.com
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