Emergency Preparedness Part 3 (2021)
In this section, we’ll briefly address the scenarios listed in Part 1:
As we’re all going through one at the moment, this will be quite relevant. Having food, water, water filtration, sanitation as well as medication is important. Limiting contact with others, as we know, can help reduce transmission. This also means avoiding crowded areas where possible. Whilst there is dispute regarding facial coverings, they are not the whole solution, but serve as a means to reduce transmission in addition to maintaining distance from others (Remember that not all facial coverings are made equal either. Be sure to look up eye protection also). Of course, practicing good hygiene is absolutely essential (washing hands, hand sanitiser etc.). When you’re out and about, you’ll be in contact with a lot of different people and objects, especially if you’re taking public transport.
It’s also important to keep apprised of current ongoings local, national and international, but with an open mind and remain objective. News outlets may overestimate the statistics, which serve to sensationalise what is happening to attract more readers and more viewers. Authorities however, may downplay the severity in order to reduce fear or unrest.
Any kind of civil unrest may result in an increase in the spread of a virus. Unrest may even come in the form of panic buying in supermarkets. It’s therefore advisable to do a gradual stockpile of food, water and supplies; this is a conscious choice to prepare before an ‘event’; the practice of gradual stockpiling is not synonymous with panic buying. Having sufficient supplies at home simply helps to prevent you from going out to supermarkets where there will be so many others who did not prepare and are now acting in panic.
Pandemics seem to happen every hundred years:
1720: The Great Plague of Marseille
1820: Cholera Pandemic
1920: Spanish Flu
In some way or form, what we have gone through has taught us to have some mindset of preparedness; as we’re not yet in the clear of our current pandemic, for any future occurrences or events, it’s important to continue to educate ourselves and remain prepared.
We can't predict when natural disasters occur, so how we can prepare for them will always be challenging. First of all, it's advisable to know what may be common in your area or anywhere you go to visit, for example, holidays and business trips, so signing up to any weather alerts would be a good idea.
Having emergency supplies is necessary also; first aid, radio, water, snacks, cash and even perhaps local maps; this is something you could keep in a car, much like a coat for a rainy day.
If you're at home, you may be cut off from contact with the authorities amongst other concerns such as electricity going out. As such, having an emergency supply of food, water and sanitation as well as any medication you may need is necessary to remain self-sufficient for a while until things are resolved. However the issue is that we just don't know how long that would take.
If you have others that you live with, it's important to have a pre-established plan. As mentioned in Part 1, they will hopefully be receptive to such a conversation and plan, especially from what we have gone through. Such a plan could take the form of where, when and how to get there; it's also ideal to practice this. As mentioned previously, having a means of communication will be important to establish what is happening. If the power goes out however, you'd need an alternate power source as well as a radio.
An economic collapse would result in bank closures, food and gas shortages, to say the least. Water and electricity may also become unavailable. Should banks be closed, people will be cut off from their accounts, which can result in desperate measures, such as looting and rioting. Authorities may then declare a state of emergency.
Preparations would include stockpiling on food, water, medication and other supplies, such as sanitary products like shampoo, soap, detergent, plastic bags, not to mention clothing. Having alternative forms of power is recommended, in the event that you’re unable to pay for electricity.
It's also essential that we practice and learn new skills, especially with how we interact with others. For instance, offering services, carpooling to save petrol, bartering and trading food. Other skills we could practice are cooking, baking, first aid and also practical skills, such as being able to fix a fence. Having a back up fund, such as emergency cash will be exceptionally useful during this time. If you are looking to invest your money now, precious metals are a good way to go; silver for instance can be used to barter and trade.
In the event of any widespread violence, it’s not the worst idea to beef up on home security as well as some proficiency in self defence. As a martial artist, fighting is always the last resort, but it’s a skill set to have should you ever need it.
Financially speaking though, we just have to be smarter with how we spend and save our money as well as where to invest it.
The internet and all of our devices that are connected are always open and vulnerable to cyber attacks. If you think about just how much you use your phone for as well as how much our society is dependent on the internet and what could happen if these get taken out. Whilst we may not be physically harmed, physical resources will be affected, such as our infrastructural systems. We must also take access to our own money into consideration.
In terms of our day to day smart device usage, it’s essential that we maintain our apps so that they are constantly updated; don’t forget to update your antivirus software too. This includes upgrading any firmware on our routers also. More recently, Google Chrome reported a zero day exploit; this is essentially a security risk that is compromised and exploited before the developers are able to patch it. Sometimes, the developers don't even know about the security vulnerabilities until after it's been exposed. Zero day therefore refers to having no time to resolve or fix the problem.
Should there be a cyber attack, one of the first things that is recommended to do is to disconnect any devices from the internet.
In this day and age, we tend to use our credit cards more, however in the event of a cyber attack, we may not be able to at all. This is why keeping cash is a good idea so that you can still use it at shops and petrol stations, especially if you are not close to home. Not just this, cash is not traceable and also prevents the risk of anyone trying to steal personal data.
Cyber attacks can target any sector, resulting in things such as power outages and food shortages; the chaos that may ensue from a cyber attack could also result in the form of rioting and looting, which is why having plenty of supplies at home is key. As we don’t know how long this would last for, doing an inventory of our supplies and rationing them would be appropriate. Having renewable forms of power, such as solar powered generators is a good idea, which you can hook a CB radio up to in order to stay updated on the outside world.
Should there be a war, then it's not just supplies that you would need. It's essential to have an actual emergency plan and a means to evacuate with your family with those supplies. You should also consider forms of self defence. Should an attack happen, take into account that you may not be together, which is why you will need to have a pre-established plan. As mentioned previously in Part 1, if you just escape without a plan you are essentially a refugee. It is therefore advisable to steer clear of major cities and highly populated areas. If you can't get home, having a backup plan and safe location is ideal. Each family member should have supplies also made readily available and accessible, such as keeping it in the boot of a car in addition to having the petrol tanks topped up.
Should you have friends or family who live in rural areas, it would be sensible to speak with them in the case of such an emergency for you to seek shelter with them. This is where having skills and supplies will be essential so that you can contribute to their household and not just be another mouth to feed.
The statement coined by Cicero in 52BC, 'inter arma enim silent leges' (though allegedly, the actual wording was 'silent enim leges inter arma'), meaning 'for among arms, the laws are silent', is unfortunately, exceptionally relevant today.
In terms of a terrorist attack, other skills that must be practiced are situational awareness, seeing the changes in the status quo. If you spot something out of the ordinary, it may be irresponsible to not call some kind of attention to it, even if you do it discreetly. Whilst terrorist attacks are generally random and cannot be predicted, having an understanding of current world affairs is advisable to assess risks. As a self defence instructor, awareness is always one of the most important things we have to be able to prevent something from happening or removing ourselves before it happens. This means keeping our eyes on our surroundings and not being distracted by our phones. If you go into a building, take note of the exits; such events can happen anywhere at any time and our priorities are always the safety of those who you are with, especially if they are less capable than us. This means that you don’t play hero. Fighting is always the last resort. Another important factor is remaining composed under pressure, especially in the face of imminent and life threatening danger.
This is the worst of all the scenarios; given the recent and current events, this cannot be ruled out. Whilst some may be fortunate enough to have an underground shelter, this is just not a viable option for the rest of us. Survival of a nuclear blast is dependent on several things, such as the size, radius, how high it is in the atmosphere, when it detonates and how close you are to it; 1 megaton for instance, would have a blast radius of about 3.7 miles. Do not look at the blast itself as this can visually incapacitate us from the flash; time is of the essence. To protect ourselves, you would need to duck and stay covered as best as you can, covering as much skin as possible. You would ideally remove ourselves as far as away as possible and seek shelter, (ideally underground if possible; soil helps to shield from radiation) and stay there to protect ourselves from radiation. Concrete, bricks and even glass and plastic can protect us from different types of radiation. If there isn’t a basement level, then the centre of a building on the ground floor is the next best bet to keep distance away from the fallout. Keep in mind that removing your clothes can also reduce exposure to radiation. Don’t use shampoo or conditioner as they bind radioactive material to hair.
As it could be weeks before it's safe to go outside, you would need supplies to last you for that time. If you're staying in at home, you may have prepared for this already, though if you're out, supplies may be scarce. If you do go out, remember that winds may carry the fallout for hundreds of miles and you may just expose yourself to more radiation, even if it has reduced over time. In the event of a nuclear attack, water, earth and sky will all be contaminated.
As this is a general overview, we won't go into the treatment of exposure to radiation. Keep in mind that the severity is based on the amount of radiation and duration of exposure.
Climate change is something that is always in debate. Regardless of your views, extreme weather events and disasters can absolutely occur and its effects on the environment, which therefore absolutely affect us. It's important to look at historical occurrences in your local area to see what may be likely to happen. As mentioned earlier previously, stocking up on food, water, medication and other supplies should be a priority, which can be done gradually as changes in climate will not be sudden. In addition to this, making home improvements and adjustments should be considered also, such as better insulation.
If there is a failure in the national electricity grid, everything and everyone will be affected. No power means no water, no communications, no transportation, stores will close and authorities will struggle to keep control. If there is a food shortage, people may resort to violence and stealing from others. Home security is therefore something to look into, especially with entry points. Some people have security cameras, but they can be easily vandalised but are also redundant if the power goes out.
Remember, we are only civil because we have full stomachs; the quote 'every society is three meals away from anarchy' by Lenin, expresses that things could fall apart very quickly. This is why it's so important to make preparations now. Don’t forget the Gray Man and OpSec principles also, discussed in Part 1.
Start now, especially in the event of a personal hardship. This is a literal form of life insurance.
The authorities may not be able to offer assistance either as they may be overrun, which is why it’s important in all scenarios to be able to fend for ourselves. As mentioned previously, emergency preparedness is all about self sufficiency and independence to ensure that we remain safe before, during and after an event.
As Part 3 of this topic is something I’ve written in the space of a couple hours as a brain dump in the early hours of the morning, I may come back, revise and rewrite certain areas in case I missed anything. Hopefully, this will give you an overview of things to keep in mind and put into practice.
Remember that if you’re a martial artist, then you are training for a worst case situation that may never happen. If you keep a coat in the boot of your car, you’re preparing for bad weather. Any preparations you do should always be done rationally and calmly, which is precisely the opposite of the actions of the panicked and desperate.
Remember that the authorities may be overrun. Calling them in an emergency event for instance may therefore not be possible for immediate assistance. The police for instance will normally be there to deal with the aftermath, not the event itself. Keep in mind that self defence is another form of preparedness; some may choose firearms, but keep in mind that 'if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail' (Maslow, 1962). Household objects can also be used as a form of self defence in addition to hand to hand proficiency, which is important. You must also keep in mind that you will be held accountable for anything you do once everything goes back to a 'normal' state. Stay objective, stay calm and stay aware; amend and adapt your plans accordingly. Remember that collapse may be gradual, but that doesn't mean it's not happening.
As mentioned earlier, this is both a physical and literal form of life insurance; the supplies you acquire will be things you will use anyway, not to mention the knowledge and skills you will have gained throughout your preparations. The supplies you have is only one part of the equation; skills and know-how must be continually practiced in addition to the ability to stay calm and physically fit. All of which will be invaluable for you and your loved ones. Prepare today to survive tomorrow.
*Edit* 15 August 2022: If you are based in the UK, the government will be launching an emergency alert system from October onwards. So long as you have a smartphone, you will be automatically alerted to any warnings, such as 'floodings, fires, extreme weather and other public health emergencies', should you be in the vicinity of the danger (BBC, 2022); click here to read. Personally, I feel that other emergencies such as the ones listed above, terror attacks for instance, should be added to this list also. Be sure to keep your phone updated in terms of software and security updates. Should you receive an alert, please make sure you prioritise this as it could save lives. Receiving an alert is one thing, however once again I must emphasise the importance of composure under pressure so that you do not panic and are able to respond and act objectively and accordingly. It is essenntial to continue to refresh your knowledge and research on emergency situations. Stay safe!