Morale in a Post-Disaster World

You’ve got your food and water reserves put away. You’ve got plans made that you hope will help you deal with the chaos you will face when a disaster happens. You have ways to cook when the grid goes down. You’ve looked at what your sanitation needs might be and you’ve got a way to deal with them on a temporary basis. You’ve talked to your neighbors and you have an idea of how prepared they are. You also feel that even those neighbors who are minimally prepared will not likely pose a danger to you and your family. Probably what you haven’t looked at yet is how grim the world will seem after a major disaster.

Survival in a grid-down urban environment will not be fun. In fact, it will be quite dangerous. You will need to use everything you know and every skill you have practiced to keep yourself safe, clean and fed. Post-disaster survival will be your new full-time job and it will be hard work, very likely the hardest you have ever done. There will be little or no leisure time. You will find yourself busy twenty-four hours a day with the necessities of life. Depending upon the magnitude of the disaster you could be without almost all public utilities which include electricity, gas, water, phones, and cell phones. Without electricity, the gas station can’t pump gas into your car, you air conditioner and heater won’t work, your phones won’t work, your computer won’t work, and when the sun goes down it will be very, very dark. Your water pressure is dependent upon electric pumps, so very soon you will be without water. Without water there will be no baths or showers, no way to water your garden, and no way to flush your toilet unless you use the water you have set aside for drinking. You will have to live off of the supplies you have had the foresight to store for just such a contingency. There will be people who don’t have supplies and they will come looking for yours, so you will also have to think about how to keep your supplies so that you do have something to eat and drink. As I said, it will not be fun.

Perhaps your worst enemy will be your morale and the morale of those around you. Apathy and despair will not help you survive. You will need to be alert, aware and fully functional to stay alive. How are you going to maintain a survival attitude when faced day after day with the problems of finding somewhere to dispose of your sewage, of dealing with the bodies of those who die, of dealing with the scavengers who would kill you and take what you have? It would be very easy to give up. Those that do will quickly succumb. You will have to do better than that.

How will you keep your morale up? Realize one thing, right now. You are already way ahead of anyone who hasn’t given a thought to being prepared for a disaster. Just by looking at what you might have to endure and what you might need to survive, you have taken a big step in the direction of handling anything unexpected that might befall you. Morale is dependent upon your ability to do something about the situation in which you find yourself. If you can do something to help yourself and those around you, you will have no problem with morale. If you can create a hot meal and feed your group, everyone’s morale will improve. If everyone keeps themselves and clean as possible, still maintaining adequate drinking water supplies, morale will improve. If everyone has a job that helps the group survive, you will have no problem with morale. Morale problems will only arise with those individuals who refuse to do their part, who don’t contribute to the survival of the group. If you have a group where everyone has a job and is working hard to help each other, you will have no morale problems.

As a part of getting prepared, you ought to talk to your neighbors. Find out what skills they have. Help them get started putting their supplies together. Begin forming your survival group. You can’t survive alone; there will be way too much to do. You will need lots of help. If you’ve laid the groundwork for survival after a disaster by getting yourself, your family, your friends and your neighbors prepared, then you will have that help. You will have a group with the ability to do something for themselves in the event of a disaster. As a bonus, you might find that the morale of your whole neighborhood has improved as a result of your efforts to help everyone be prepared.

What Are You Preparing For?

What Are You Preparing For?
By Brett A. Fernau

What are you preparing for? Why are you even interested in being prepared? Are you afraid that when the earthquake happens, you will be at the mercy of the kindness of strangers? Or after that hurricane levels your city, are you concerned that there may not be adequate supplies of food and water available for you and your family? Are you worried about an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) event that knocks out the electrical power grid, or an economic collapse and the resulting societal breakdown? Do you live in an area where wildfires are possible, or civil unrest is likely to escalate into violent rampaging mobs, looting and burning whatever strikes their fancy? What if your house burns down? Or your car breaks down miles from home? Are you prepared?

Being truly prepared means that you have acquired the knowledge and skills that you will need to handle whatever situation you may find yourself in. A characteristic of a great many disasters is that they happen without warning. They are unpredictable. One moment life is moving along at a steady, comfortable pace and the next moment you find yourself in the midst of chaos. Your ability to handle that chaos will depend upon how well you are prepared. If you have adequate knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge to the chaos around you, you become a stable terminal by which order can be restored to the area. With only knowledge and no skills, you may believe yourself to be in control of the situation. You are not. With no knowledge and no skills, you are a victim of the disaster. You are dependent for your survival upon the kindness of those around you. If they, too, are unprepared, you are lost.

Another characteristic of disasters is that they happen where you are, which is not necessarily where you have all your tools and supplies stored. The unpredictability of emergency situations is compounded by the unfamiliarity of the environment in which you are likely to find yourself. You must be prepared to deal with the emergency situation wherever it occurs. This means that you will need a deep fundamental knowledge of how to handle each of the factors that confront you in a chaotic scenario: panic, injured people, dead people, armed aggressors, fire, damaged infrastructure, darkness, cold, heat, rioting, looting, and all manner of other violent and dangerous people and things. The skills you need may include first aid, search and rescue, crowd control, self-defense, fire suppression, organization, and leadership, to name just a few.

The question remains. What are you preparing for? You ought to be preparing to handle anything that might occur in as wide an area as you are able to control. You ought to be striving to achieve a maximum of knowledge and skills in the area of disaster and emergency preparedness. It is not enough for you to have specialized skills in just a couple of areas and assume that there will be other people around to fill in those other needed skills. Say you have some skill at organizing people, but little knowledge of first-aid and search-and-rescue. Even if you have some uninjured people that could be of assistance in handling the other victims, you won’t be able to properly prioritize the tasks that need to get done to save as many lives as possible. You are going to need some fundamental knowledge of a broad spectrum of areas of expertise to make the most effective use of the available resources. The broader and deeper your knowledge of how to handle disasters, the better you will be at allocating your resources.

Again, what are you preparing for? You are preparing to take control of your own life, your own survival, the survival of your family, your friends and neighbors, your city, your country, your planet and your way of life. You are acquiring that knowledge and those skills that you will use to help yourself and others. You are becoming more aware, more able, more intelligent, more productive, and more valuable.

I hope that, by studying and learning how to be prepared, you are also discovering that we are all in this together, “this” being life in all its varied forms. I think that you will find that when you begin to share this information with your family, friends and neighbors, you will experience some satisfaction in knowing that you have helped them. You may even find that you all have more than a few things in common. Build on that and there’s no telling what you might create; neighbors who help each other, a spirit of community and cooperation, people taking more responsibility for each other, people talking to each other, you never know what good you might be able to do, all in the name of being prepared. So, what are you preparing for? You are preparing to help.