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A Brief Discussion About "EMERGENCY PLANS"
© 2006

In our everyday lives we make decisions about things we take for granted without any thought to what would happen if a disaster should strike. But, disasters come in all sizes and shapes. From hurricanes to floods, from tornadoes to chemical spills, from terrorist actions to tsunami's. Every part of this country has something "wrong" with it that can cause a local disaster. You all know where you live, look around you. What is the one, single, biggest threat (disaster-wise) to YOUR family.

I'm talking about you and the people in your neighborhood, not mine. I know my threat. I have two big ones; one more likely than the other. I live on the Florida gulf coast and have a yearly hurricane threat. 50 miles north of me is a nuclear power plant that is getting old. I have to plan my own personal disaster response based on the biggest threat to ME, not anyone else.

If you haven't taken a close look around, let me remind you of some of the common threats that we all face, all over this country, on a seasonal or daily basis:
  • Northeast US: Coastal regions face tsunami and hurricane threats and possible terrorist action such as the 9-1-1 attack on the World Trade Center. Densely packed with people, any power outage will impact life immediately. Nuclear generating plants are in close proximity to high population areas. Some geological activity in the area but not a lot. Grid lock twice a day to and from work.
  • Middle Eastern States: Coastal regions face tsunami and hurricane threats, more so than the Northern-most states.
  • South Eastern States: Very open to tsunami and hurricane threats.
  • North Central States: Cold winter weather can be severe if electrical failure occurs. Some summer storm-related threats.
  • Central States: Geologically active in some areas. High summer storm threats from tornadoes.
  • South Central States: Gulf states very exposed to hurricane and tsunami threats. Ask New Orleans, they'll tell you all about it. Summer storm threat high, particularly in Texas-Oklahoma area. Drought threat to Texas-Oklahoma and desert areas if weather changes drastically.
  • Western States: Highly active geology. Mt. Saint Helens is an active volcano and the Yellowstone area is the largest active geological area in the world, without an active volcano. The closer you get to the California area, the higher the geological (earthquake) threat becomes.
  • West Coast (South): California is slowly trying to move up the coast to Alaska. The entire state is an earthquake looking for a place to happen. Tsunami threat high around coastal areas. Water supply always a problem in California. Grid lock is a "normal" commuter problem.
  • West Coast (North): Slightly lessened geological threat compared to California, but very cold.


All of us face the possibility of chemical spills, train derailments, aircraft crashes, etc., which are completely out of our control. You know your area better than I ever will, what's your BIGGEST threat? In the military, we call it threat assessment. In urban (city) environments, any large-scale incident that occupies the time and energy of police, fire and emergency personnel will have a certain percentage of people who will take advantage of the situation. Looting during the New Orleans floods is the latest example of city-folk behaving badly. Anti-looting and home invasion procedures should be a part of ALL emergency plans. It can be as simple as staying indoors...or as complicated as roving armed neighborhood patrols. It's your home and you have to protect your family.

For you information, the NEWEST nuclear generator in the USA was built in the 1960's.


You should start making all of your plans as if you were the only people left on earth. When you do plan on other people, plan on them being the enemy. The best plans are completely self-sufficient and rely only on your own resources. Only when you and your family are safe and secure can you allow yourself the luxury of looking after others.

That statement is probably the most paranoid statement you'll ever get out of me, but there is a LOT of truth in it. HARD WORDS FOR HARD DECISIONS.

  • Your disaster plan will fail if you rely on others to help you.
  • Your disaster plan will fail if you don't plan for every contingency, including looting.
  • Your disaster plan will fail if you rely of the government to save you.
  • Your disaster plan will fail if everyone in your group doesn't think the same way.
  • Your disaster plan will fail if someone in your group does not know what the plan is.
  • Your disaster plan will fail if you try to "save the world".

Here's what I mean. The plan you and your family devise should include all the people you think you can possibly save and/or control. Usually, that means immediate family members only. It does not include the neighbors or the neighbors kids. It's their job to take care of their own kids. Sounds selfish, doesn't it. Yes, it is. But when you stretch your resources too thin from the very beginning of the disaster, you don't have a chance later on when something else goes wrong.

To go or not to go: Some disasters will dictate what you have to do. A forest fire raging down at your house is a no-brainer. Get in the car and haul ass. You have to go.

Other situations are not so clear cut. A chemical spill has occurred three miles from your home. Should you evacuate? Should you stay at home? If you move you may drive right into fumes or fallout, without even knowing it. If you do go, where are you going to? Do you have shelter where you are headed? Is there food available there or should you take your own? Will the drive to (where-ever) take only a few hours, or will the roads be so crowded that you may not ever get there?

Plans have to be flexible and thorough. You have to include the needs of all your party members. Medications and special medical equipment are just two of the most commonly forgotten items. Moving grandma to the country is not good if she dies from not having her medications. Talk about a guilt trip.

99% of most disaster plans will probably be best handled by staying put and bunkering in. I know that is the option I have selected here in Florida. I have my generator stored in a steel-reinforced concrete building and have a large truck to pull a travel trailer if I absolutely have to move out. I have tools, water and food stored all over my house, but you would never know it. I am armed to the teeth and every member of my family can shoot the bulls-eye out of any target. I have sandbags available to use to shore up my humble home if needed, as well as lots of heavy clear plastic sheeting. My home is on the highest land in the area. I have shutters for every window. I think only a direct hit from a tornado would make me have to move out. You can't protect yourself from everything.

Later articles will include checklists for various situations, including "bug out" kits, first aid supplies, long term shelter planning, and stuff like that. The plan that will work the best is based on the principle of "K-I-S-S". KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID. Start your disaster planning now. When the disaster strikes, it's too late.


The perfect shelter plan is the one that works. But, what works for me may not be what works for you. I've been asked many time what my "perfect" shelter plan would consist of. I'll try to explain it. Of course, if you are planning an "ideal" shelter, then money is no object. This is fantasy at this point. Later, you have to reconcile your "ideal" shelter to the realities of your pocket book.

Ideally, I would have already purchased, built, stocked and supplied a hide-away shelter deep in the mountains (above 4,000 feet elevation). It would be completely camouflaged so that no one could tell that 90% of it is deep underground. The above ground structures would blend in to the surroundings so that they never draw attention to them. I have already calculated that the best shelter only has to protect the occupants from weather, disease, or radiation fallout. It is not hardened against a full-scale enemy military attack, that cannot be done unless you are a government agency. The best protection for a private shelter is stealth and camouflage. A stocked lake would be nice.

Along the driving route to and from the shelter, there are pre-purchased and pre-stocked locations to refuel vehicles and get food and water. These may be as simple as commercial storage units or as complicated as buried vaults on private property.

Inside my "ideal" shelter there is food, water and electrical capability to survive, without outside assistance, for 6 months to l year. After 1 year, crops will have to be grown in the fertile fields around the shelter. The shelter will have sufficient medical facilities to handle anything short of a major medical emergency.

There is an extensive armory with weapons and ammunition to protect the shelter from cleverly concealed firing points. This is only a last-ditch option. All shelter members will be qualified in a defensive weapon of some sort. The closest neighbors will be over 5 miles away, and only accessible by single lane winding roads. There is a helicopter landing pad concealed outside the shelter.

There are satellite communication links to the world as well as satellite TV and computer links. Communications about world and local conditions are critical to my survival. I will have radio scanners and radio communications for all police, emergency, and military channels. I will be able to communicate by HAM radio around the world.

My water well is within the underground shelter and is augmented by cisterns that catch rainfall when available. An extensive sewage drainage system is capable of handling 200% of the predicted load. This insures that if something happens to the land surrounding my shelter, the toilets will still work.

The interior quarters of the shelter are private for families but provide bunk areas for single male and female habitants. A large entertainment room provides room for many activities to keep people active while inside the shelter. A professional style kitchen makes food preparation and cleanup as easy as possible. A walk-in freezer holds sufficient frozen food for 1 year of occupancy. Several storage rooms are inside the shelter to store 1 years worth of supplies and staple foods.

There are wind-powered and solar-powered electrical generation facilities to augment the diesel generators. There is a fire-suppression system installed in the underground portion of the shelter. There are small, interior garden areas to provide green plants and small vegetables (such as tomatoes) all year long.

I love fantasy shelters. They are everything I ever dreamed of. Some day...RT