National Preparedness Month

By | Monday, September 07, 2020 Leave a Comment
Dennis the Menace comic

As this Dennis the Menace comic notes, it's National Preparedness Month. The question is: are you prepared? If you're like most Americans, probably not.

A few years ago, I noticed a couple of things. First, there was an increasing number of natural disasters that were causing larger and larger amounts of damage. Natural disasters, of course, have been around since literally the beginning of the planet, but climate change has had enough of an impact at this point that both their frequency and intensities are impossible to ignore regardless where you live. Second, the federal government is decreasingly able (or even willing!) to assist people who have been impacted by these disasters. Hurricane Katrina is kind of the poster child for this type of thing, but we're seeing it more and more. Worse still, we're also seeing clearly man-made disasters happening more and more as well. (Flint, MI still does not have clean water; a report last year classified over 47,000 of America's bridges as “structurally deficient.”) This means that you're more likely to get hit by a disaster, it will likely cause more damage than it the past, and you'll get less assistance.

So despite not living in an area prone to earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, or any other natural disasters, I began putting together an emergency preparedness kit. A crate of supplies that we could rely on in case we're cut off from... well, anything. Matches, first aid kit, flashlight, radio, multitool, etc. After I pulled some basics together, I expanded to include bottled water, MREs, camping supplies. My wife and I each put together a bag with spare clothes we could grab if we needed to race out the door. Extra food for the pets. A waterproof/fireproof lockbox with a handle for important papers. Rain barrels for non-potable water. A small generator. Everything we can think of (and afford!) to prepare ourselves for any sort of emergency.

Some of the basics here are spelled out on variety of websites of folks like the Red Cross and the ASPCA. But I found a lot of that to be dated. I mean, they are keeping up to date by mentioning things like extra phone chargers, but the thinking behind these sites still assumes the government will come to assist you in a few hours, maybe a day at most. So to get more/better information, you almost have to start looking at prepper culture.

There's a lot of overlap here with gun culture and there's an entire industry built up just around building underground bunkers/fall-out shelters that caters to this community. But there are some sane, pragmatic folks out there advocating prepping, once you filter out the deep conspiracy theorists that are genuinely fearful of a for-real zombie apocalypse. I would personally recommend They have a pretty comprehensive, but practical approach and they aren't just looking at things from a pure survivalist mentality. They really do have an interest in actual preparedness, and include a fair amount of information about getting your finances and legal paperwork in order.

Yogi Bear Earthquake Preparedness comic
As far as I can tell, though, there's nothing out there currently in comic form. There have been a few emergency preparedness comics that run a basic story about preparing for an emergency and make some high level recommendations, but they tend to be light on specifics. Which I suppose is good enough to get people thinking about it, but it doesn't do much beyond that. I've also seen a few comics that try to show a prepper or some survivalists actually in a SHTF setting, but the focus there seems to be on the story of survival after the event, not on the preparations beforehand.

So what I think we need is an instructables-type webcomic that shows how to go about getting prepared for emergency situations. I'm thinking it would need to be a webcomic versus a printed one because while individual portions would be linearly narrative, the overall piece would not be; so if you had it as a webcomic, people could check out the specific portions they felt were most important and/or they were most ignorant of without having to wade through everything else. There might be some sections that just talk about some of the supplies you'd need under different emergency scenarios, or for different geographies. Another section might look at administering first aid. Another might be packing a Go-Bag versus a Bug-Out-Bag, and why you might need one over the other. Maybe something about what you think you need versus what you most likely will need. What about legal emergencies? Do you have a will, power of attorney documents? Are they secure? Financial emergencies? How much should be in your emergency fund? Digital emergencies? Is all your data backed up?

The basic point of the whole thing would be how to implement the old Boy Scout motto of "be prepared." Obviously, not everybody was in Boy Scouts in the first place, and I'm sure many who were haven't thought about some of those ideas since before they had a spouse and kids and day-to-day job responsibilities and whatever. But, like I said, in a day and age where disasters are getting deadlier and more damaging, with less likelihood of any help from the government, I think something along these lines would prove incredibly beneficial if it were done with practical steps in mind. I think there's a lot of far-out-there people in the prepper community that give them all a bad name, and turn off others from even entertaining the notion of emergency preparedness -- you wind up sorting through bizarre conspiracy theories just to see a list of items to include in a Go-Bag! There are some decent folks out there with YouTube channels and such, which is great, but a webcomic would stand out since there simply isn't anything like it out there right now. People just starting out could check it out without getting scared by the crazy tinfoil hat types.

This strikes me as a huge missed opportunity!
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