It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking you are fully prepared and ready for what may come your way. You have extra food, a water source, a first aid kit, emergency plans, and all the “right” tools.
But are you really prepared?
When I was a younger man, I thought that just having stuff was enough and that with all my stuff I would be able to tackle any situation. Don’t get me wrong, having tools and supplies is certainly a part of the equation of being prepared for emergencies. However, being mentally prepared and practicing your preparations is arguably more important than having stuff.
This is for several reasons.
First, it gives you a more realistic baseline of where you are with your knowledge, skillsets, and supplies.
Secondly, plans that are carried out in the real world don’t always work as well as those on paper or in our heads.
Thirdly, supplies and tools may not work as well as you think they should, and only by testing them out will you learn their limitations.
Lastly, you may think that you have planned for every possible outcome of a situation but unless you have physically run through a scenario, I guarantee you that something will be missed.
What does all this amount to? Well, it means that if you want to be better prepared then you need to test your level of preparedness.
Now, there are far too many aspects, tools, and skills that pertain to emergencies to cover in many articles, let alone just this one. Though there are several ways in which to test yourself that are listed below and they should give you an idea of what areas you are good in and what areas you need to work on.
Ways To Test Yourself
There are two ways to become better at something. We all have heard the saying practice makes perfect, so practice, practice, practice.
Sometimes practicing in the same old way is not enough and it lulls us into a false sense of security and comfort. Therefore, if you want growth then it is necessary to increase the difficulty by changing up the parameters. I know this might sound a bit confusing, but I think the examples below will better illustrate my point.
Turn Off The Power
Turning off the main electrical breaker to your home is a method that has made the rounds for many years. I played through this scenario in my head and thought I had planned for everything that I could, but it wasn’t until I actually did it that I learned what it was like.
Flipping a light switch and having nothing happen is a completely different feeling than you think it would be in your head. It is an uncomfortable feeling and to some extent it makes you feel helpless. But guess what? That’s good. That’s part of mental preparation.
Turning the main breaker off for a whole weekend (which I did) is an incredibly valuable experience because we rely on power for everything. We use it for cooking, food preservation, cleaning, laundry, lighting, looking up information, heating, cooling, and entertainment.
If you have never been through a power outage, especially a multiday one, then I highly suggest using this method at least once. Before you do, make sure that you have a notebook and a pen so that you can write down what you learn as you go through the process.
Perhaps you have someone living with you that has a medical need, or some other reason that makes turning off the power to your home unfeasible. If this is the case, then I would still recommend running through this scenario but with the power left on.
To do this, grab a notebook and pen and sit in a room of your home. Take the time to carefully think about what uses power in that room or how the use of power, affects that area. Make a note of each and everything that you find and plan accordingly. Repeat this process for every single room and area on your property.
Making Fire in Bad Conditions
Making fire is probably one of the most talked-about survival skills because having a fire can be critical to a person’s ability to survive.
Many years ago, I thought that I was the “fire king,” because I could usually get a fire going easily and with different tools or methods.
The problem is that most of the fires I started were made on clear sunny days or days where the weather was fair. Also, there wasn’t any real pressure on me to get the fire going. I think my experience is very common and there is nothing wrong with practicing your fire-making skills in that way.
However, we all know that the weather and other conditions can change quickly, but the need for a fire will remain the same.
Trying to make a fire when you are kneeling in wet snow, freezing to the bone, and your hands are shaking is a completely different experience.
Trying to make a fire when rain is running down the back of your neck with soaking wet clothes pulling you to the ground is a completely different experience.
Trying to make a fire when the wind blows out every match before you can even get it to the tinder bundle, is a completely different experience.
Trying to make a fire with a bow drill when it is hot and sweat that is dripping from your nose extinguishes the ember you worked so hard to get, is a completely different experience.
It wasn’t until I increased the difficulty level of practicing making fire that I realized I had a lot more to learn. Once you have become comfortable with making a fire during a nice day, you need to increase the difficulty level. This means practicing when it is raining out, windy, snowing, hot, cold, and at times when you don’t want to practice.
Run Through All Your Emergency Plans
Many people that prepare for emergencies have an emergency binder. If you don’t then I highly recommend making one. In these binders are the plans for what to do in the event of a tornado, wildfire, house fire, flooding, fill in the blank.
A lot of the time these plans stay on a shelf collecting dust and in the event of an emergency, people run around unsure of what to do. To keep you and your family informed on the procedures of the plans and to find out if there is anything different that should be done, it is a good idea to fully run through plans at least once a year.
Emergency plans should also be updated as needed. Maybe you have different supplies, phone numbers change, or maybe you moved. At least once a year, sit down with a cup of coffee and go over all your emergency information.
Only through practice can we keep our skills honed. Only through practice will we know what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong. Comfort is often the enemy, but by constantly testing your level of preparedness, you will be more comfortable during tough times.
Thanks for reading and stay prepared.
Let us know how you test your level of preparedness by leaving a comment below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing.Bryan is a published author with Fox Chapel Publishing. In 2019, Bryan authored the book, Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. In March 2021, he released his second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival.