In his General Conference talk in October 2020, Elder Bednar taught: “Some Church members opine that emergency plans and supplies, food storage, and 72-hour kits must not be important anymore because the Brethren have not spoken recently and extensively about these and related topics in general conference. But repeated admonitions to prepare have been proclaimed by leaders of the Church for decades. The consistency of prophetic counsel over time creates a powerful concert of clarity and a warning volume far louder than solo performances can ever produce.” (emphasis added)

He continues, “I invite each of us to “consider our ways” and “examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith; and prove our own selves.” 

What have we learned during these recent months of lifestyle adjustments and restrictions? What do we need to improve in our lives spiritually, physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually?

We learn from Elder Bednar that “words such as prove, examine, and try are used to describe various patterns of demonstrating appropriately our spiritual knowledge about, understanding of, and devotion to our Heavenly Father’s eternal plan of happiness and our capacity to seek for the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement.”

Elder Bednar continues, “Now is the time to prepare and prove ourselves willing and able to do all things whatsoever the Lord our God shall command us.”

Therefore, ‘to prove ourselves’ means to acknowledge the truths of the gospel and the counsel of the prophets, and act upon it.

Assuming we are already doing the work to build our food storage, it is time to create a plan to prepare our families for whatever lies ahead. These plans will vary according to your location, size of family, medical needs and access to resources.

As with food storage, do not follow someone else’s plan, any more than you would shop for groceries using your neighbor’s shopping list. Look at other plans for inspiration – but every family’s plan will be a bit different – maybe even wildly different.

The most effective plans are brief and not overly complicated. Plans should be reviewed and updated whenever there is a change in your family situation, or at least once a year. Let’s begin.

1. List the disasters (natural, man-made or personal) that are most likely to occur in your area. These may include, but are not limited to earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, dust storms, power outages, job loss, house fire, civil unrest, even chemical spills. This year we have experienced a pandemic, more hurricanes in the United States than ever before, more acreage destroyed by wildfire than ever before, dam failures in Michigan, Arizona experiencing 144 days over 100 degrees, a derecho in Iowa, civil unrest in multiple cities large and small, and globally, a massive explosion in Beirut, typhoons and flooding in Asia, a humanitarian crisis in Africa, fires in the Amazon and so much more. 

How can you know how to prepare if you aren’t aware of what you are preparing for? Learn and know what you are preparing for. Ask first responders nearby what they train for.

2. For each disaster identify specific preparation needs before that disaster. As an example, for a hurricane you should be preparing an evacuation plan and a place to go as well as a plan for returning home for clean-up. Destructive disasters will all involve insurance and a home inventory. Be sure to include those in your pre-disaster planning.

3. For each disaster, identify specific responses needed to keep your family safe. For example, following an earthquake the immediate need would be determining the safety of all family members, safe shelter, followed by food, power and ways to clean up. What tools or skills would you need to address all of those?

Remember you are not only planning for your human family but also for your pets and farm animals. Identify what you will need to keep them safe, sheltered and fed.

4. Gather information such as:

  • Contact information such as email address and cell phone number for all family members living in your home, family to be contacted, out of area contact, children’s friends, medical professionals, clergy, people you may be caring for, and schools.
  • Contact information for police, hospital and fire station. Internet may be down – these lists need to be hard copies too.
  • Maps including those for the homes of children’s friends, your workplace, friends you are watching out for, out of area contacts, and your bug out location. GPS may not be available following a disaster and the roads you normally travel may to closed. Paper maps, like those from AAA!
  • A list of family members and neighbors with special needs and all items they may require such as wheelchair, insulin, prescriptions and guide dogs.
  • A list of family and friends with equipment and/or skills that may be needed following a disaster.
  • Location of shelters and places that will shelter animals.

5.  Create a master list of family and friends who may have and be willing to share tools, work, and supplies following a disaster. Refer to the list you created above (under Gather Information) and now use that list and be specific as to how each can help. Which friends and family have a chain saw, medical training, canning supplies, axes and tree saws, ice chests, wrench for shut off valve, or tractor? Brainstorm items or skills you lack and will need help with.

6. Plan to communicate.

  • Email. Do you have backup power so you can email? Do you have email addresses all entered on your contact list?  Be sure to have these recorded in a few places in case you cannot access them on your laptop or phone. Do you have a backup sources of internet WiFi?
  • Text. Do you have the cell numbers for everyone you may need to contact and an alternative way to charge your cell phone when the grid is down, like 12V charger for the car, small solar panel for charging phones, etc?
  • Amateur radio. Ham radios work when there are power outages – consider 12V battery back-up power. Information can be relayed from you via other Amateur radio operators and onward to family and friends. It is relatively inexpensive to become licensed or for the equipment. Children in our family as young as 7 have earned an FCC license. 
  • Human power. Are your bikes in good repair? If gasoline in not available, do you keep your car’s tanks more than half full? Do you have gas stored for a motorcycle or ATV? How will you get to family and friends to check on them if emails, cell phones, text messaging, and even ham radio connections fail?
  • Establish a meeting place in the event an emergency happens when most of your household are not home. Be aware of what infrastructure may likely fail in an earthquake, flood, or tsunami, and have what you need in the car in case the way to your meeting point is only possible on foot.
  • Know which radio and TV stations in your area will broadcast emergency information.

7. Practice. Once you have determined which disasters are most likely to occur in your area there will be things to practice. For example:

  • Earthquake, duck and cover.
  • Fire, at least two escape routes, knowing how to determine if a door can be safely opened.
  • Evacuation, what to grab and what to load in the car.
  • If you are separated, practice getting to your meeting place.
  • With children – practice dialing 911. 
  • With children – practice calling your out of area contact and reporting.

The next two weeks your work is to complete tasks one through four. In the next few months we will examine individual disasters: how to prepare now and how to proceed following a specific disaster – not just survive – to thrive. 

Remember Elder Holland’s counsel given to students at BYU Idaho in 1998: 

“If you are treading water in the current of a river, you will go somewhere. You simply will go wherever the current takes you. Going with the stream, following the tide, drifting in the current will not do.

“Choices have to be made. Not making a choice is a choice. Learn to choose now.”

What a great reminder for every aspect of our mortal journey.

At Totally Ready we are preparing for 2021. If you would like help with preparedness please visit Totally Ready on Facebook and let me know where you need help with posts and articles in 2021. Join the preppers there for ideas and support.