Monday, October 21, 2013

What are your trigger points?

By now you should have at least a vague idea what you will do when an emergency situation happens. Power goes off for more than 6 hours, natural gas is shut off for days due to high demand and you're on the wrong end of the service denial, you name it.  Pack up for Grandma's, hunker down in place, or whatever. 

There are other kinds of emergencies that have less obvious starts and ends. For example, what if the EBT card problem had continued beyond a few hours? Do you live in a community that may have seen riots or looting? What is your plan for that?

We had a forest fire 3 years ago, and my employer expected employees who were evacuated from their homes to continue to come to work. They would let you have a few hours to get settled in your new location, but after that, get to work. Do you have a contingency plan that includes work clothes and commuting to the job? What about child care if your kid's school is closed but your employer wants you there?

How will you know when and where to go in the case of a longer or progressive emergency? Will you wait for authorities to tell you to go and fight it out with the crowds, or have you identified your triggers to leave?  Here are a few examples:

1. Electrical outage: If it is widespread and has been continuing for more than 4 hours, is that time to activate your contingency plan? Should you start sooner, knowing ATM's and most gas pumps won't be working?

2. Riots: If there is civil unrest or riots in larger cities back east, and it seems to be spreading, when do you activate your emergency plan?

3. Volcanic eruption: Remember the Mount Saint Helen's eruption in 1981? A lot of people died because they didn't believe it could blow, and then it did. There were lots of warning signs, but even the regional officials were lax in defining exclusion areas because they didn't understand the power of the volcano. Don't become a Dave Johnson or Harry Truman. For those of you along the west coast, Alaska and Hawaii, if it starts to rumble, get out. Don't wait for the big plume to shoot up, as it probably will be too late to leave by then.  Getting boiled in hot ash like the folks in Pompeii is a lousy way to go.

4. Currency Restrictions or Bank Holiday: It has happened in other countries in the last year or so, does your preparedness plan work in this type of situation? If so, what specific measures will you phase in to keep your cash-on-hand from dwindling too soon?  No spending by any family members without parental approval? Quick trip to the grocery and gas station to top off as soon as you hear about the closures or restrictions?

Knowing what your trigger points are, what you need on-hand for them and what specific actions you and yours need to take when they occur, could transform your emergency experience from a nightmare to an inconvenience.  Planning that includes trigger points and appropriate actions to take when they occur may also save your lives.


  1. good common sense post!

  2. All valid questions. I have different reactions at different levels myself.

    When I see food riots I will start some serious caching :)

  3. Few are more prepared than I am, for whatever may happen. For example if the grid goes down for a month it's no big deal to me.