We talk about emergency preparedness but what we really strive to achieve is self-reliance and emergency management.

What is self-reliance? Self-reliance is the ability to depend on yourself to get things done and to meet your own needs. It is the capacity to rely on one’s own capabilities, and to manage one’s own affairs.

What is emergency management?  It is the organization and management of resources, knowledge, and skills for dealing with all aspects of an emergency. This involves preparing ahead of time, response to the challenge, and restoring people and property to pre-disaster normalcy.

We must understand the disasters that could affect our family. These may include weather related disasters, “wars and rumors of wars”, crime, job loss, medical emergencies, house fires, droughts, food shortages, even the need to take in and care for aging parents or handicapped siblings or other family members.

There are four stages to be truly self-reliant and a true emergency manager.


This stage includes actions taken to prevent or reduce the cause, impact, and consequences of disasters. As an example, mitigation may include:

  • In hurricane country, tying down homes or barns with ground anchors to withstand wind damage. Trimming dead branches from trees would be another.
  • In earthquake country, securing furniture to the wall and removing items hanging over the bed.
  • Drought mitigation may include planting drought tolerant landscape and learning and practicing drought tolerant vegetable gardening techniques.
  • Job loss or reduction in hours mitigation would include a savings account, eliminating monthly payments such auto payments, TV channels, and gym memberships.
  • For a neighborhood fire storm, you should have cleared the brush from around your home, planted fire-resistant plantings and added hardscape but a fire may still happen.

Ask yourself what you can do now to make a disaster more of just a challenge if it should happen. What disasters do you face and what can you do now to mitigate the effects when they arrive?


This stage includes planning, training, and educational activities for events that cannot be prevented. Refer to the list of disasters possible in your area and prepare for them.

You should have already done what you can to prevent the disaster as much as possible in your mitigation, but the disaster may still arrive. To prepare you may need to buy a fire extinguisher, assemble auto and five-day kits for a quick evacuation, keep gas tank half full and create and practice a family evacuation plan.

For most disasters, whether personal or widespread, food storage and a stockpile of non-food essentials and medications are a must have. Many never expected they would not be able to purchase vitamins or TP but the pandemic proved we were wrong.

Now is the time to make a list of the supplies and skills needed to survive and thrive the disasters most likely to happen to your family. Remember: If a disaster has happened even once in the past in your area, it can happen again. No matter how secure you think your job is, it can end tomorrow. We are currently seeing increasing layoffs and companies freezing hiring.

“Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”— Henry Kissinger

This could be a guide for preparing. Do we have food and know how to produce more (control food)? Do we have resources to heat and cool our homes, prepare meals for our family when there is no power? Travel to a grocery store when gas pumps are not working? (control energy)? Do we have cash on hand if the grid is down or savings if we lose a job (control money)?


The response stage occurs in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. During this stage, businesses, families, service organizations, church resources, nothing functions normally. Personal safety and the wellbeing of those around us depends on the level of our preparedness. All the physical preparations we have made and all the skills we have learned now become invaluable. This is when we thrive instead of just surviving. You are now the expert for all those around you who failed to head the warnings of the Lord in scripture and thru prophets.

Will you be able to cook off grid and as importantly, teach others to do the same? Will you have the tools to muck out your home and others? Will you know how to successfully evacuate when the usual roads are closed? Will you know how to get accurate information? These are all questions you should have addressed in the preparation stage and planned for. If you can say yes, you are on the way to becoming an emergency manager and incredibly valuable to your family and others during the recovery period.


During the recovery period, restoration efforts occur concurrently with regular operations and activities in your family and community. The recovery period from a disaster can be prolonged. It may take years after an earthquake or tornado to return to a state of normalcy. You can help in the recovery by volunteering, being patient and recognizing it all takes times. Survivors will feel forgotten. And truthfully, they will be by most people after a few days or weeks. You may have recovered because of your preparations, others who have not prepared may take much longer.

The terms emergency and disaster are often used interchangeably. This may be confusing as both are challenges but of different degrees. Emergencies are usually small scale, localized incidents which are resolved quickly using local resources.  One example is a power outage caused by a vehicle accident lasting just a few hours. Small-scale emergencies can escalate into disasters when there has been inadequate planning and wasteful use of resources. Snowmageddon in Texas could have been an emergency if there had been snowplows and sand available for the roadways and plumbing wipes had been wrapped and the grid had been strengthened. The same storm would have been an emergency in New England but in Texas it was a disaster.

Disasters are typically large-scale and cross geographic, political, and economic boundaries. Disasters require a level of response and recovery greater than local communities can provide on their own. The emotional and economic toll is much greater and much longer lasting after a disaster.

It is not enough to just prepare. We must be aware of all aspects of self-reliance. We must understand the need to mitigate and do all we can to lessen the effects of emergencies and disasters we cannot prevent. We must then prepare and stock up as well as learn and practice skills, we must then be willing to share and use our skills and supplies wisely.

September is National Emergency Preparedness Month. Each day our goal will be to mitigate. We have spent much time in preparation so now let us work this month to do those things to make the challenges ahead a little more manageable. Because my next article will not be until September 14th let me issue a few daily challenges between now and then.

September 1st Check your insurance coverage. Do you have adequate coverage on your home? With home prices rising would your policy cover the cost of replacement? Our friends were told they did not need lava coverage for their home in Hawaii. Their home is now under 70 feet of lava. Research to be sure you have coverage for disasters likely to happen in your area.

September 2nd Secure your property. Be sure all out buildings, the garage and all doors have proper locks. If your door locks are installed with the screws that came with the locks switch them out for longer screws on the lock and strike plates. This small step makes it far more difficult for an intruder to break down a door. Check bulbs in outdoor lighting to make sure they are all working.

September 3rd Move food storage off the floor and place in metal or glass containers so your food will not be destroyed by flooding or rodents.

September 4th Read the article: Don’t Forget the Birds and discuss how you can improve your evacuation readiness.

September 5th Prepare to evacuate during the night. Place a whistle and glow stick or other light source next to your bed.

September 6th Make a list of everything in your home that is battery operated and the size and number of batteries needed for each. You will need batteries during a power outage to mitigate the damage that may be done if you do not have the right batteries.

September 7th We have done this so many times but just in case you haven’t, place plastic ziplock bags ¾ full of water or plastic containers filled with water in the empty spaces in the freezer. These will help keep frozen foods safe longer during a power outage.

September 8th Strap your water heater to the wall. It can cause a fire if tipped over during a weather disaster.

September 9th Begin the habit of charging your laptops, cell phones and tablets in your bedroom at night. The devices and chargers can easily be grabbed if you need to evacuate. Make it a habit to place your car keys and wallet by your bedside at night as well.

September 10th Remove and/or trim dead branches from trees and bushes.

September 11th Decide as a family how you can help others prepare and who those families may be. Being prepared is as much an attitude and a lifestyle as any good habit that becomes part of who we are. Children want to be part of something they see as exciting and valuable. Teach them now to be preparedness minded so when they are away from home, in college, or married with children, they will be prepared for unforeseen emergencies.

September 12th Gather recipes to use when cooking off-grid. Recipes may be for cooking foil dinners, Dutch oven meals, grilling, haybox cooking, etc. Not all recipes are easy to adapt so find a few today.

September 13th Clear an area or create a plan for moving outdoor furniture indoors when a storm or flooding threatens.

September 14th If you have bottles on shelves attach a strip of wood to the front of the shelf to prevent bottles from falling during an earthquake, hurricane or other disaster. Strips may be as simple as a 1×2 or scraps of molding. For metal shelves stretch an industrial strength bungy chord across the shelves.

Now go and do. Set your goal not to be prepared but to be a self-reliant emergency manager.  You cannot prevent every disaster or emergency, but you can manage them. As an emergency manager you can mitigate the effects, prepare with supplies and knowledge, plan your response, and continue to help during recovery because your family is just fine.

Carolyn is always available to answer questions and share tips at Totallyready.com and on Facebook. For those wanting information or to participate creating Christmas ornaments for disaster survivors visit Operation Christmas Ornaments on Facebook and on Carolyn’s blog.

Catch Carolyn on Annette on America:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kLaXgPacxE (school safety)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrFKyecixeo  (prepping for blackouts and civil unrest)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IO_XUJMC008 (prepping for recession)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjtEdX0h2OA&t=2507s  (prepping for inflation)