Steve Shenk

Think about a time in your life when you decided to just “wing it.” What was the circumstance? Was it a test in college that you never could bring yourself to study for, a project at home that you couldn’t be bothered to find out the right way to approach it, or was it something else? What were the results? More often than not, we’re left with a feeling that we should have prepared a little more.

Now, imagine if that situation was a matter of life or death?

Most people would tell you if that was the case, they wouldn’t leave anything to chance. However, a recent survey showed that 20% of respondents were not presently prepared for a natural or man-made disaster because their plan was to “wing-it”. Ignoring the fallacy that winging-it is a plan, how can people be so naive? How can people put their lives and the lives of those depending on them in such a precarious position?

In addition to those who adopted winging it as a plan, others, who had no plan for a disaster, listed the following for their lack of preparedness:

The thought of preparing for a disaster had never crossed their mind.
They lacked the money to prepare for a disaster.
They lacked the time to prepare for a disaster.
Let’s look at those excuses for a minute.

While people may claim that preparing for a disaster had never crossed their mind, they are really just deceiving themselves. With the extensive news coverage in recent years of major disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the earthquakes in Japan with its resulting tsunami and nuclear problems, most everyone knows the turmoil a disaster leaves in its wake. Events like these should spur us to be ready for the day when something similar could happen in our own backyard.

Unfortunately, most cannot accept and/or process such a situation in their own lives, so in order to survive mentally and emotionally, they disengage from that possibility by either thinking “it could never happen here” or choosing to ignore it all together. Obviously, both paths will eventually lead to day of reckoning, with humbling results. But to claim it had “never crossed [my] mind,” is denial in its highest form.

What about those claiming to have neither the money nor the time to prepare? This is a convenient lie we tell ourselves whenever something isn’t a high priority for us. While the economic downturn and the rising cost of gasoline have made for keeping a tight pocketbook, a person who truly values something is able to find a way.

Many view preparing for a disaster as an either/or proposition. In other words, I can do “A” or “B.” By valuing preparedness less than other pursuits, time and money are kept from that activity and allocated to what is deemed of greater worth. However, if they would simply look at emergency preparedness as a “and” situation, they would gain the motivation to tackle this pressing need. Many would come to the realization that with just a few minor adjustments to their regular routine, they could work toward disaster preparedness while meeting their current obligations and desires.

For example, food is a necessity. All of us buy groceries on a regular basis, but not all of us prepare for disasters. By simply making a few minor adjustments to our food budget, we can begin to buy a few less items that are highly processed or perishable and begin purchasing long-lasting, quality items that can help grow our preparedness reserves. (And best of all, if purchased correctly, your reserves can be rotated in to your daily meals.)

Facing a disaster is a scary proposition. In fact, of those survey respondents that were prepared for a disaster, 82% were prepared because they had previously faced a disaster of some sort. They know the stakes. While you can’t control if, when, or where a disaster may strike, there is no reason why you can’t give yourself peace of mind by preparing for one and leave winging it to the birds.

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