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Emergency Preparedness for Minimalists, Part 3: Last Stop Before Armageddon

“Look, there’s a great big hunk of world down there, with no fence around it.” — The Tramp to Lady, in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp

The Tramp is right, especially when it comes to emergency preparedness. Do an Internet search for “emergency preparedness” (or, for the bold, “survivalism” or “patriots” — but take your tinfoil with you!) and you get an unbelievable amount of information, ranging from the mainstream advice given by the American Red Cross (“Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed”) to websites like Survivalblog (“The daily web log for prepared individuals living in uncertain times” — and written by a guy so adamant about security that he won’t tell anyone what state he lives in, let alone what town) and beyond.

All of this information can be fantastic if you know what you’re looking for. If you are just starting out and trying to figure out what to do next, it can be crippling. How far down the rabbit hole do you go? When do you stop? What’s useful and what’s just plain crazy?

The answer is simple: You decide what stop to get off at before you get on the train. This is important because if you ride this train as far as it will go, you will end up seeing if building codes in your neck of the woods allow you to do this.

Put another way: You need to decide not only what you are preparing for, but what you are not preparing for.

Let’s use me as an example again. (Isn’t it great that I’m so obliging?) In Part II, I said that our emergency preparedness plan covered:

  • Illness
  • Job loss
  • Temporary disability
  • House Fire
  • Wildfire
  • Earthquakes of the large and catastrophic persuasion
This list will guide my decision-making and prioritizing. It is my touchstone for where I want to go. Just as important, however, is the list of things that I am NOT preparing for. Minimalism is about setting limits on our life that empower us to live the lives we choose to live, not the lives that our stuff or activities choose for us. I only have so much time, energy and money, and want to spend it wisely. Keeping this in mind, I am NOT preparing for:
  • Armageddon (otherwise known as The End Of The World As We Know It, or TEOTWAWKI)
  • An eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano
  • An EMP attack on the continental United States. (Don’t know what an EMP is? Find out more here, then wish you hadn’t.)
  • A global shortage of toilet paper (because some things are too horrific to contemplate)
  • Zombie wars
If the list of Things I’m Preparing For gets me started and keeps me focused, this list of Things I’m Not Preparing For gives me an outer boundary of reasonable preparedness, a stopping point so I’ll know when the job is done. If I didn’t have it, I might now know how many cases of canned goods were enough, or whether or not buying a generator was a good idea, or if I should buy a bunch of pool chlorine so that I could treat water if our municipal supply failed (short answer to this last one: no). Caught up in the urgency of emergency preparedness, I might take the train all the way to Armageddon Station, which is much farther than I want to go on this trip. My list of What I’m Not Preparing For is there to remind me to get off the train when it’s time, while there’s still empty space under my bed and I’m not trying to find a place to store a generator and tanks of gasoline to run it.
Here is where you take some time and decide what you are not going to prepare for. Maybe, like me, you’re not worried about a global toilet paper shortage, but you really like the idea of riding out the Apocalypse in your luxury underground bunker. That’s OK. Your boundaries are your own and may even change over time. But let’s just draw them somewhere for now. Write them down right below the list of things that you are going to prepare for.
Ready? Good. Now look at your two lists: You have a beginning point, and an ending point. That means it’s time to fill in the stuff in the middle. Onward to Part IV: Kit up!    

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One thought on “Emergency Preparedness for Minimalists, Part 3: Last Stop Before Armageddon

  1. Love this. I’ve known lots of people who just jump in without planning and have soon spent all their savings on something that will never happen. Plan for what might happen and decide what not to plan for. I like that last part the best. Seriously, there are just some things I won’t plan for.

    However, I’m pretty sure we’re somewhat prepared for the zombie war. My husband and a couple of my kids got swords recently in Chinatown. You know the best way to take out a zombie is to cut of its head, right?

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