Even though mild disasters frequently happen in the world today and major disasters are not that uncommon, many people are still caught off guard. Are you or your family prepared for an emergency if it were to happen? Although we cannot know exactly when disaster will strike, we can at least be ready to deal with one. In this post, I want to write about some of the steps you can take to help you and your family pull through – if disaster should strike.

Before you tell me that emergency preparedness has nothing to do with Personal Development, let me explain. What is the goal of personal development? Is it not to improve our lives and to become better, more effective people? We strive to avoid being powerless, where our circumstances determine our reaction, and instead aim to be powerful, where we take control of our lives by being proactive. In other words, we can control our response to life’s circumstances.

I call it the “Murphy Contingency”. Murphy’s law tends to rear it’s ugly head always at the worst of times. If we plan for the worst then we can confidently hope for the best, and so it is with emergency preparedness – we are planning for the worst situation in hope for the best outcome.

Many people wonder where to begin when it comes to emergency preparedness. The first step is to determine the level of preparedness you currently are at. The levels are as follows:

Level 1

Sadly, this is the level of most people. Because they have no extra supplies or preparations other than what they bought last time at the grocery store, they are ill-prepared to face even a mild disaster – let alone a major one. This combined with whatever they have hanging out in their cupboards, amounts to a dearth in what would be needed for survival. When required to evacuate their homes immediately, they have nothing prepared to sustain themselves for even a few days.

Level 2

At this level, people realize the need for some type of emergency preparedness. They buy extra batteries, stock up on a few days food, and have an evacuation plan for the common disasters in their respective areas. This is the level of the portable Bug Out Bag. Those who have gone through FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) “Are You Prepared” program would be at this level.

Level 3

If you’re here, you are well prepared. Not only do you have a 72-hour kit, you have also stored about a years supply of food, water, and other necessities needed to get you through the worst disaster. Your family knows what to do in case of an emergency, where to meet, and you review this plan often.

Level 4

There is a definite sense of self-confidence that is attained when you reach this level. What separates one who is here from all the other levels is a measure of self-sufficiency. These are they who aren’t dependent upon modern civilization for all their needs. I’m not condoning that you leave civilization, bury weapons, flee to the mountains and become a ‘survivalist’. What I’m talking about here is learning to be self-reliant.

After you have a year supply of the necessities, as well as having a Bug Out Bag on hand, you should focus on learning the skills necessary to become more independent. Things such as gardening, fishing or hunting are good places to start. Even if you live in a city, you can grow tomatoes, string beans, and many other plants in as small a place as your balcony. Also, supplementing your heating with natural fuels, learning how to make repairs to your home or car, and even learning to sew and make your own clothes are all things that can help you to become more independent.

Knowledge of primitive technology can also be a tremendous boost to your self-confidence. Skills such as making fire without matches, knowledge of edible and medicinal plants that grow in your area, and primitive shelter making are all skills that could make the difference if you were stuck somewhere without any tools.

The 72-hour Kit Checklist

We should all be at least at Level 2. This means that each of should have a 72-hour kit/Bug Out Bag readily available should we be required to evacuate. Why 72 hours (3 days)? In most crisis situations, much of the real suffering occurs right after the disaster. Government and Relief Agencies estimate that it could take up to three days for relief workers to reach those in need.

This is why it is essential that you and your family each have a 72-hour kit/ on hand. Otherwise known as a ‘go pack’, this kit should be transportable (ie. in a backpack, duffel bag, etc.) What my wife and I use is one of those roller suit-case/backpack things. This way you can roll it along the ground pretty easily or ruck it if you’re going across land. The best place to put this is in your car if you own one – this way it is always nearby. The next best place is in your home, in a location that is easily accessible.

Here is a checklist of items that should be in each person’s 72-hour kit:


  • 3-5 Gallons of water stored for sanitation and drinking.
  • Method of purification


  • 72-hour supply of food

Warmth & Shelter:

  • Windproof/waterproof matches
  • Second method to start a fire
  • Tent/shelter
  • Wool-blend blanket or sleeping bag
  • Emergency reflective blanket
  • Lightweight stove and fuel
  • Hand and body warm packs
  • Poncho

Light Sources:

  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Candle
  • Lightsticks


  • Pocket knife
  • Shovel
  • Hatchet or Axe
  • Sewing kit
  • 50-foot nylon rope

First Aid:

  • First aid kit and supplies
  • Burn gel and dressings
  • Bottle of potassium iodide tablets


  • Radio with batteries or radio with alternate power source
  • Whistle with neck cord

Personal Sanitation:

  • Personal comfort kit (include soap, toothbrush and gel, comb, tissue, sanitary napkins, razor) and other needed items

Extra Clothing:

  • Extra socks, underwear, hat, sturdy shoes, and gloves


  • At least $20 in your kit. Include quarters for phone calls.

Important Papers:

  • Copies of documents important for your family (birth certificates, marriage licenses, wills, insurance forms), phone numbers you might need, credit card info.

Stress Relievers:

  • Games, books, hard candy, inspirational reading. For children: small toys, paper and pen, favorite security items

Additional Items:

  • Extra food
  • Camp stove
  • Mess kits & other cooking items
  • Sun block
  • Insect Repellent
  • Snake bite kit
  • Special medication or other needs

Portable Container:

  • Durable water-resistant duffel bag, frame pack or day pack

A Year’s Supply of Basic Foods

The following is a suggested list of the basic foods that would be required to keep one adult alive for a year if they did not have anything else to eat:

Grains: 400 lbs. Includes wheat, flour, rice, corn, oatmeal, and pasta.
Legumes: 60 lbs. Includes dry beans, split peas, lentils, etc.
Powdered Milk: 16 lbs.
Cooking Oil: 10 quarts 16 pounds shortening equals 10 quarts of oil.
Sugar or Honey: 60 lbs. 67 pounds of honey equals 60 pounds of sugar.
Salt: 8 lbs.
Water (2 weeks): 14 gallons Suggested for a two week emergency reserve.

After having stored enough of these essentials to meet you and your families needs, you may then decide to add other items that you’re used to using day to day.

Again, emergency preparedness is not limited to the ‘survivalist’ movement. As we prepare ourselves and our family for possible disasters, we are better able to respond to whatever may come. This is at the core of Personal Development and Excellence.

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