by Tim Makay
One of the “joys” of prepping is digging into all the varied and spectacular ways that life as we know it and the benefits of civilization can come crashing down in a blink, like a game table being flipped by an angry cosmic force. Regional, national and even global cataclysms are definite possibilities, you know!
Maybe an asteroid will hurtle down from the sky and crack the foundations of the earth. A nuclear exchange could see mankind effectively wiped out and our cities, monuments and artifacts reduced to radioactive, scoured slag and glass. A lurking germ might awaken, mutate and lay waste to millions or billions of people globally. Man, so many ways to go on this little blue marble…
Put placing all those spectacular, Hollywood-grade apocalypses aside, there are plenty of ways to get waylaid just in the course of peaceful, sedate everyday life. Inside your very own home there are dozens of ways to get seriously injured, grievously sick or otherwise knocked out of commission.
If you are only gazing into an uncertain and calamitous future with the fervor of a doomsday prophet, and are not actively preparing for the far more likely and still dangerous everyday emergencies that might befall you, you have your priorities mixed up.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at a whole bunch of these mundane “minor” crises to give you a sort of checklist to help you get prepared.
I’m Not Worried About Minor Stuff!
But you should be. It is a classic mistake akin to putting a wagon ahead of the horse: you cannot tackle any kind of preparation for a major event in a wholesale fashion. The really, really, bad stuff is just big and too severe in its effects. All you can do is get ready by learning to cope with the smaller occurrences, threats and hazards that will invariably occur in the wake of them.
How does one prepare for a nuclear blast, or a cataclysmic asteroid impact? You don’t, not really. You can head underground if you have warning, or just pray it isn’t headed your way, but there is no amount of material acquisition, training or anything else that can “prepare” you for such a blast. You’ll survive, or you won’t. That’s it.
Now, the aftermath, that’s a different story. Can you deal with scavenging for food and clean water? Sure. Can you learn to treat the myriad injuries that will be in no short supply in the wake of such an awful event?
Yes, burns, fractures, head injuries and more. Can you keep a handy supply of gear and provision ready to go so, just in case, you and yours can load up and try to evacuate assuming you survive? Definitely.
See where I am going? The smaller sort of self-contained occurrences are what you can deal with. It just so happens that these lesser emergencies take on life-threatening context whenever the safety net of society and emergency services is ripped away.
They are no less threatening or dangerous in day to day life; we just have the luxury and blessing of being able to summon help from nearly anywhere nearly anytime, turning things that were dire happenings a century ago into annoyances today.
But you should take responsibility for dealing with these things yourself. First, it is the only way to start developing real self-sufficiency. You’ll never know if you can till you do.
Second, these same “minor” emergencies will be life-threatening in the right circumstances. Treat them as seriously as you would anything else. After all, you are far, far more likely to meet your end in a car wreck or slipping on wet tile than you are going up in a nuclear fireball.
When the Wind Blows Hard Enough…
Even inconsequential things may become deadly projectiles. You don’t need to worry about bad weather, you have more important, even more severe disasters to get ready for! Yeah, you don’t, until you do.
Tornadoes, hurricanes and more can strike with lunatic ferocity and annihilate entire towns. It may not be as cool as a gamma ray burst or EMP, but you will be living in post-apocalyptic environment on the backside of one. Right after you dig out of your collapsed house, of course.
Common, boring flooding is another terrible “minor” disaster you must be prepared for. The sheer might of water in incalculable quantity causes thousands of deaths around the globe every year and billions in property damage. News flash: anywhere it can rain, it can flood. You are preparing for flooding, right? Or were you looking into more zombie apocalypse-themed nonsense?
The normal and the everyday emergencies aren’t cool, aren’t fun and they aren’t fun or interesting to prepare for. But I can assure you of one thing, they are far, far more likely to happen and happen to you.
So if you have ever privately wanted your chance to be the hero or see a real-deal no-kidding SHTF event, you are far more likely to encounter one of the disasters featured on my list below.
Dings, Dents, Mishap and Misadventure
Consider too that you are far more likely to be injured by stupid dumb luck or simple accident than you are by someone or something attacking and wounding you. Yeah, it’s no fun and definitely has a low CDI factor admitting you slipped, tripped and fell ass over teakettle all the way down your staircase, but that’s life. Comedic value aside you could sustain serious, even crippling injuries.
In normal times, after a lengthy and expensive trip to the hospital and enduring relentless ribbing from your friends and family you will pop out more or less intact to continue down this bumpy road of life, right? Right.
Except, what if something like that were to happen in the midst of a serious society disrupting larger event? An event where EMS and hospital care was just a distant memory? Suddenly, the prospect of trying to keep on living with a badly sprained ankle, a janked hip, three slipped disks and a serious concussion seems so daunting as to be nearly impossible, yes?
This is yet another reason why you must take the time to prepare for the everyday stuff: they just don’t stop occurring while you have bigger problems to deal with, and knowing how to deal with them will take on entirely new levels of consequence when a crippling or disabling injury may spell death.
20 Everyday Emergencies and Other Mayhem You Should Prep For
As you read over this list, take a moment to consider you current level of preparation for each entry, both on a material and skillset level. After that quick self-assessment, think of how much worse something like it could be in the context of a larger, graver disaster. Then think of what you might need to do different, if anything, to mitigate it in a scenario like that.
This list includes accidents, injuries and disasters, all kinds of deleterious happenings so no matter who you are and where you live there will be something for everyone on this list.
1. Electric Shocks can occur from any source that is energized, be it appliance, power line or some other conductive surface that is currently electrified.
The consequences can range from painful to lethal depending on the current. The consequences of electric shock include burns, unconsciousness, cardiac arrest and more. You must know how to safely intervene if you suspect someone has fallen victim to electric shock lest you become a casualty yourself.
CPR is going to be a must in the aftermath of a bad shock. Many disasters will drop power poles left and right, so expect a significantly increased risk of this when the SHTF.
2. Food Poisoning is a common enough occurrence around the world that is treated as little more than rough day or two spent between the couch and toilet. The real consequences are direr when you don’t have access to good medical care. Staying hydrated between bouts of diarrhea and vomiting will be a challenge, and loss of electrolytes en masse will create additional complications.
Always a show-stopper, and can be disabling. Do have medicines to halt the worst of the nausea? Do you have sufficient supplies of clean water and electrolyte supplements? In a pinch, could you give someone an IV? What will you do in a major bind if your choice is starve or eat potentially bad food and risk this ailment?
3. Choking occurs when food or a foreign object in the throat or windpipe hampers or halts breathing. There are untold instances of this every year, and almost everyone has gotten choked on a morsel of food before.
The response is the Heimlich Maneuver. You should know how to administer it to adults, children and yourself, in extremis. Also learn the signs and symptoms of choking so you can react rapidly as seconds count.
4. Carbon Monoxide intoxication is a slow and insidious killer. Odorless, tasteless and utterly undetectable without specialized monitoring equipment, CO is readily produced as a product of combustion. Your car, grill, fireplace and other fuel-burning apparatuses will all emit CO gas.
CO is lethal in sufficient concentrations, and will first surface in humans as discomfort and headache followed by flu-like or cold symptoms. Your mind will be adversely affected in proportion to the amount in your bloodstream, and coordination will suffer.
Eventually you will lose consciousness, and if that happens in an environment full of CO, you will die. You must have CO detectors in your home, and you should become acutely familiar with CO poisoning symptoms in order to realize what it is and act quick enough to save your own life. Also learn proper use and handling techniques for all fuel-burning equipment and never, ever use them inside to heat or cook.
5. Slips, Trips and Falls can occur for all kinds of reasons. An untied shoe, a misplaced step, a child’s toy left out, slick tile or a patch of ice. Humans don’t hold up well when gravity gets the final vote, and you won’t have the boon of safety equipment.
An uncontrolled fall or stumble can result in a host of injuries: fractures, strains and sprains are all common and debilitating. A whack to the head could result in a concussion or even a fractured skull, both serious medical emergencies. A fall from height, like atop a ladder or off a balcony sets the stage for terrible injury or death.
You should endeavor to know how to assess the most common injuries from falls and splint or sling fractures. Do you know how to immobilize a person’s neck or head? Can you create or use a litter to move them without exacerbating an injury if required?
6. Fire is one of man’s oldest tools, and literally the force that helped us to blaze the reclamation of earth from the beasts of the land, but it is also one we have never truly mastered, and it remains a fickle and mercurial servant. The same cooking fire that helped you make you dinner at camp or the comforting fire in the hearth at home is the same one that can turn on you and see you driven from either.
Fires are another huge killer all around the world, and cause billions upon billions in damage yearly. You should have a plan and fire extinguishers for dealing with and escaping a house fire, as well as a working knowledge of wildfires, since they can move rapidly over wide areas, cutting off escape routes and turning the very air into a choking fume.
Since so many preppers rely on fire making skills for warmth and survival, you should learn well how to safely build and manage one in different environments.
7. Tornadoes are the apex of wind storms, capable of ferocious winds up to 300 mph. Wind speeds like that will casually toss vehicle and train cars, remove buildings from their moorings and tear apart anyone exposed to them.
While tornadoes may happen anywhere on earth, they are far more common in some places than others, with America, specifically the Great Plains region of the Midwest, being the undisputed hotspot.
Dealing with tornadoes is all about early warning, suitable shelter, and having the right supplies for dealing with the aftermath. A bad tornado hit is capable of annihilating a town or small city, meaning you will be completely on your own in the aftermath. Having secure preps for shelter, food, warmth and first-aid are vital.
8. Robbery is a threat wherever you have people who want what you have, and one of mankind’s oldest crimes. Compared to simple thievery, robbery is a violent act, one where you are stripped of your goods by a threat to your life and limb.
Robberies often occur in the form of a mugging, or a hold-up. The vagaries of criminal value systems may mean that compliance still sees you seriously wounded or killed. A robbery that occurs when you are home is a home invasion scenario, and extremely dangerous.
Preventing a robbery can be done if you are aware enough and see the pre-attack indicators in time. When you are actually being robbed, you’ll have to make a decision if you are going to comply or fight. Empty hand, blade and firearms skills are critical, as is “verbal judo.” You can expect robberies to increase anytime there is a reduction in rule of law and police presence, or people become desperate due to lack in the aftermath of a serious disaster.
9. Motor Vehicle Crashes are an all too common way to die or become seriously injured in the U.S. and around the world. Thousands of pounds of metal and plastic hurtling down roads crammed with other chunks of metal and plastic, propelled by hundred of horsepower and controlled by an all too fallible human. It is a wonder these do not occur more often.
Avoiding and preparing for car wrecks should be a top priority for you since they are so common and so often injurious. Performance driving training, adhering to good procedure when behind the wheel and having a trauma kit and escape tool with you in the vehicle at all times.
For bikers, the stakes are far higher, and full body protection plus a helmet is mandatory to stand a chance of surviving a laydown. In collisions with obstacles or automobiles, the biker always loses.
10. Breakdowns are another way a vehicle can betray you without hurting you. Getting stuck or stranded in remote or inhospitable (weather or people) places can put you in danger. There is not much you can do to predict a breakdown but you can minimize the chances by keeping your vehicle maintained at proscribed service intervals.
You can better improve your chances after a breakdown by filing a flight plan with a trusted friend or family member and keeping a Go-Bag full of supplies and tools in your car. Make sure to include blankets, tarps and additional clothing as is seasonally appropriate.
11. Heatstroke happens when the body’s ability to cool is outstripped by high temperature. High humidity, high temperature and exertion are a surefire way to get heatstroke. When your core temperature starts rising you’ll first get nauseous, suffer from headaches, cramping, vomiting and eventually your organ will start to shut down.
You’ll be delirious before that happens, though. Preventing heatstroke means cautiously moderating your activity in very hot environments, staying on top of your temperature and hydration, and treating for heat exhaustion before someone gets too far gone. If you fall victim to heatstroke in a remote area or anywhere there is little chance of help or rescue, you might be in serious trouble.
12. Blackouts can be both a preview and potentially the terminus of things to come when the SHTF. Our entire society, our entire economy as it is today, is held together by the efficient delivery of electricity on demand. Even our defense is entirely reliant upon switches lighting up and beeping when flicked. Without power, communications networks go dark.
Refrigeration ends and food starts to spoil. The night will become very dark indeed. A blackout is a serious threat to social stability, and can last hours, days or weeks. Even semi-permanently in a bad enough disaster. You must have total preparedness to deal with one: food, clean water, ability to stay warm or cool, you name it. Weapons are also a good idea, since blackouts often result in serious outbreaks of criminal activity.
13. Gunshot wounds are obviously very serious, and it sucks to hear but if you own a gun or participate in regular shooting practice or competition you are far more likely to be shot accidentally than you are to have a bad hombre put a bullet to you.
While you can, with enough regimented practice and discipline, ensure that you are as safe as any human can be when handling a gun, you cannot stop all accidents from happening when a gun is being handled by someone else, to say nothing of having a gun used on you in the commission of a violent crime.
Dealing with gunshot wounds means thinking fast and having the right medical tools at hand. A trauma kit featuring tourniquets, chest seals, plenty of gauze, compression bandages and more will be vital to stop the leaking. You must have training to prevail! Higher level care and surgery is often a must to survive anything but the most glancing wound.
14. Farming and Homestead Accidents can take many forms, but all of them are traumatic. Injuries from heavy equipment like tractors and other implements are common, as are wounds inflicted from, teeth horns and hooves of large animals.
While farming is usually cooperative in nature, the seriousness of typical farm injuries and the remoteness of the location often means help will not arrive in time to save the day without some kind of intervention. Make sure you have first-aid training and a robust first-aid kit with trauma supplies while you whistle your chores away out on the Green Acres.
15. Blizzards and other extreme cold events plague regions of the far north. A blizzard will see temperatures plummet, and combined with high winds will serve to make death from exposure a very real possibility if you are outside for even a little while.
The wind itself may be strong enough to do damage, and intense snowfalls will see roads and bridges made impassible, trees topple, and roofs collapse. There is not much you can do to avoid a blizzard except evacuate ahead of time if possible or move to someplace closer to the equator.
Hunkering down and waiting out a blizzard means you will probably not be able to go anywhere without a specialty snow capable vehicle, and power outages are likely. If you do not have a way to stay warm, you are history, so you should have plenty of sleeping bags, blankets and even a tent to create a warm microclimate in your home. Plenty of food, water, medicine and toiletries should also be on hand.
16. Road Rage happens anytime and anywhere some lunatic is behind the wheel of a vehicle. Pissed off because you forgot to put your turn signal on or because you didn’t see theirs, they become irrational and aggressive, maneuvering dangerously and even ramming you.
Enraged drivers often disembark in an attempt to intimidate or hurt you, and attacks with bare hands or weapons are common. The best way to avoid a raging driver is to stay calm and simply get away from them. If they follow, or you cannot do so, do not get out of your vehicle. Call the police, but if confronted, have a self-defense option ready to go.
17. Hypothermia in the form of exposure is one of the most prevalent killers of people who are outdoors for any reason. The tales of hikers and other explorers getting caught outdoors when the weather turns or they run late and having to brave plummeting temperatures with clothing only suitable for a hike in the spring sunshine are many and varied.
No matter where you live, conditions can conspire against you to see your core temperature falling. You must always be prepared with additional layers appropriate to the environment anytime you are heading out.
18. Lightning may never strike the same place twice but it only needs to strike once to completely ruin your life. The raw power of lightning is the most dazzling display of nature’s fury, and being struck will almost invariably leave you unconscious and badly injured, even dead.
The injuries from lightning are severe and difficult to treat. Lightning strikes on people are very rare, but you can significantly increase your chances of getting zapped by doing the following: standing on high places, carrying long and conductive metal implements (like rifles), or being exposed on a flat plane with nothing else to attract the bolt.
Be smart if you have to move or work in a thunderstorm, and always remember that lightning may strike far beyond the edges of a storm.
19. Flooding is the number one cause of death by any natural disaster, and also the most destructive by property damage. Flooding usually occurs because a torrent of rain causes rivers and lakes to burst their banks, completely inundating areas with water that would otherwise stay dry.
Flooding also occurs when massive storms like hurricanes drop tons of rain and also bring with them deadly storm surge from the ocean. Floods are dangerous because of the weight of moving water can sweep away people and vehicles, and also because of the sheer havoc they cause.
Dropped power lines, broken sewer pipes, and the chance of being drowned in the murky, swirling water all come part and parcel with flooding. There is little you can do to avoid flooding except get away while the getting is good, and be prepared to go to high ground if forced to stay.
Flood survival gear means flotation devices, food, clean water, hygiene supplies (flood waters are notoriously filthy) and waterproof waders and boots.
20. Rioting and Social Unrest is just a fact of life in the 21st century. Motivated by political fervor or some other ideology, malcontents and rabble rousers seek to cause as much chaos as they can in order to draw attention to their cause or force governments to give into their demands.
Riots are dangerous and highly unpredictable and this makes defending against them tough in the age of social media where mobs can organize using the hive mind-like power of the internet. Rioters may set fires, physically attack and even use knives, clubs and guns against vulnerable “others” for maximum impact for minimum risk.
Mobs often form where public visibility and disruption will be greatest. Use this information to avoid the most “high-value” locations. Less people, less risk generally speaking. If you find yourself involved in or coming up on a riot, getting away is your best bet. Never, ever attempt to go through a mob.
If you find yourself sort of swept into one, chant and act alongside the rioters until you can work your way to the fringes and escape. Medical supplies are worth their weight in gold if you are wounded or are able to render aid to anyone else hurt by their hooliganism.
Making basic trauma care essentials part of your EDC goes a long way to being prepared for these events: carry a tourniquet and hemostatic gauze at the minimum.
Everyday emergencies are what every prepper should be preparing for first. While not as exotic or lethal as some of the most far-out SHTF events, the daily doomsdays are by far more likely to affect you and yours than some true End-of-Life-On-Earth scenario.
Use this article as a sort of checklist to make sure you are preparing for the events most likely to affect you. Train accordingly.