To be fully prepared, you need to know how to use the items you collect. And learn many other preparedness skills besides.
For example, your bug-out bag and long-term supply should include a good, complete first aid kit. But you can’t just buy a first aid kit and leave it in your backpack or on a shelf. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and learn first aid. Know how to clean and dress a wound, and even stitch one up. Learn CPR while you’re at it. And find out the warning signs of a stroke and what to do if someone is experiencing them.
Do you have a fire extinguisher? I fully recommend it. A home fire is one of the most common emergencies that people face. Preparing for one is wise. Invest in a fire extinguisher, then learn how to use it. Practice. Using a fire extinguisher improperly can spread the fire, so be sure you know what to do with it before your home depends on it.
The same with an escape ladder. If you live two or three stories up from the ground, an escape ladder can be a live-saving device. One the other hand, it can also cause a fall and possible injuries if you don’t use it correctly. To avoid that, have a drill a few times a year so that everyone in the family can practice affixing it to the window sill and climbing down the ladder. Don’t forget that if you ever need to use it, you will be in the midst of a crisis. You won’t want to have to stop and figure it out then.
And speaking of fire, do you know how to light one? The time to educate yourself about it is now, when the lights are still on and the stove is still working. Fire starters can be tricky to use and control. Figure them out before you need to.
Are you stocking flour for long-term storage? You definitely should. You’ll need it to bake bread if you ever face a situation in which you can’t run to the store to buy some. And the obvious question is . . . you guessed it . . . do you know how to bake bread? Part of your preparedness plan should include being sure that you know how to bake bread and any other baked goods that your family enjoys. Have recipes ready, too, and be sure that you stock the ingredients that those recipes call for.
I wish it went without saying, but for some folks it doesn’t, that if you own weapons, you should become expert in using them. Weapons can be, if you permit me to state the obvious, lethal. Misusing them, or using them ineptly, can cause unintended fatalities. Far from offering self-defense, weapons can be turned against the bearer or can be used by the bearer to harm a loved one instead of an intruder. Become an expert marksman or don’t own a firearm.
Finally, just for safety’s sake, you and your kids should all know how to swim. Transportation for America has reported that one in nine bridges in the United States is structurally deficient. That is, they require significant maintenance, rehabilitation, or replacement. Yet, American drivers take 260 million trips over these bridges daily. If your car is ever submerged due to a failed bridge (or for any other reason), you will need to be able to swim once you get out of the car. Being a strong swimmer can help in other survival situations, too.
Preparedness, after all, is not a collection of things. It is a sense of readiness to overcome any emergency that you may encounter. Don’t bother collecting stuff without learning to use it. Your stuff collection won’t make you prepared. Invest in yourself and your skill base every bit as much as, if not more than, you invest in your supplies.
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