Life can throw a lot your way. Natural disasters, car wrecks, 24-hour news cycles, and taxes. While some of these are more dangerous than others, well-prepared individuals can always take steps to protect themselves in the event of an emergency. I’m not talking about bug-out bags and bunkers, but common-sense things that an everyday person can do to give them a leg-up in survival situations.
After consulting with a host of outdoor-savvy individuals, self-proclaimed survivalists, and Joe from the office next to mine we’ve completed a list of 5 things you can do to ‘be prepared’, regardless of your sex, occupation, or hometown.
Pack an Emergency Car Kit
The only excuse you have for not owning one of these kits is if you live in a city where you don’t own, rent, lease, or regularly ride in some form of automobile. Whether it’s a truck, sedan, or a smart-car posing as a real vehicle, the kits contain everything you may need for a roadside emergency. The most basic ones will only set you back 20-30 bucks and include traffic cones, jumper cables, and a tire iron & jack set. The fancier kits will cost more but include things like space blankets (for staying warm in dead cars during the winter), road flares, tire chains, and air pumps.
Learn How to Change a Tire
Following up on the above tip, everyone should know the basics of swapping out a tire. Nothing exposes someone’s lack of emergency skills quicker than standing helpless on the side of the road while waiting for a tow truck or Triple A to solve your problems. Find a friend who knows what they’re doing (and won’t mock you) to ask for a quick lesson. While most drivers have some form of roadside assistance with their insurance, you’re still dependent on how soon a service tech can get to your location. Whether driving to a can’t-miss meeting, rushing to a distant hospital, or just trying not to lose an entire afternoon waiting for a tow-truck, you’ll be glad you took the time to learn.
Like the car kit, there’s really no reason not to carry at least one of these types of tools. There are too many uses to list here, but you’d be surprised to learn just how often you’ll need a knife, pliers, screwdriver (flat and phillips) or some other tool your sad human fingers can’t substitute. When I was in the Army, I carried a Wave multitool anytime I was in uniform, deployed or in garrison. The pliers were critical for fixing weapon jams and pulling MOLLE straps. Now that I’ve become a softer, gentler civilian I’ve continued to keep one in my truck, but I’ve added to my kit with a Raptor Response tool that offers a little more ‘oomph’ than what I can get out of my usual carry. It’s got a compact set of portable shears, ring cutter, ruler, O-tank wrench, and folds into a small palm-size carry with pocket clip so you don’t have to look like you’re wearing a Batman utility belt every time you leave the house.
Take a Basic First-Aid Course
This tip will not only help you, but possibly loved ones and even strangers in an emergency. Anyone can call 911, but even the best medical teams still have to get to your location, and those minutes lost waiting on qualified personnel to arrive could be the difference between life and death for someone.
At a minimum you should know how to perform CPR, prevent choking, bind wounds, and identify various injuries so you can properly communicate them to emergency dispatchers and EMTs when they arrive on the scene. You’ll never know when the skills are needed, but situations can arise anywhere. A heart attack in your office. Injury while camping. Car wreck far from town. Even if you were in the military and attended a CLS class (combat life saver), there’s no reason not to get a refresher course. Your life could depend on it.
Arguably the most difficult thing to do on this list, but also the most important. No matter the circumstances, or how stressful they are, you need to be able to focus on what needs to be done. From something as minor to a nail in your tire, to a loved one suffering a serious injury, panicking never helps the situation.
Having someone calm, collected, and prepared during an emergency is just as vital to a good outcome as any of the other tips above, though we recommend all of them to improve your odds!