Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide

Revised, Autumn 2018

PART 1:  It All Started Like This:

“I don't want to come across as the guy sitting on ammo cans in his basement bunker eating MRE's, I really don't. -But I believe accepting the potential for things to go wrong, based on past events not long ago or far away, and taking reasonable precautions against that time within the limits of the law and my abilities is the responsible thing to do as a man, father and husband. -So I've learned to access water from my water heater and plumbing when it stops coming from the faucet. I have a plan B for light and heat when the power goes out for more than a day. I've set aside a little extra of the food we like to eat and rotate it though our cupboard. I've started using words like "bug in" and "bug out", and started writing emergency plans down so family can access all the things they say I'm a little nuts to even be thinking about in case I'm tied up in town keeping order or responding to emergencies there.”  - November, 2010

storm 2.jpg

 PART 2: Introduction: Not Long Ago or Far Away

The purpose of this plan is not to survive the end of the world and the collapse of civilization.  The goal of this guide is to help a family cope with real world emergencies that are likely to be short term, as the family sorts itself out and life returns to normal.  Examples of these emergencies would be a house fire, job loss, power outages lasting more than a day due to weather, civil disorder and panic stemming from these and other local and world events. 

Real world examples of these events would be:

  • Severe flooding in Grant County in 2008, which destroyed bridges, took out power lines, and contaminated drinking water.

    • An example of civil panic would be local gas prices doubling the night following the 9-11 attacks, and lines of cars in Platteville, eager to pay those prices.


PART 3: Situational Understanding, Information and Intelligence (real time actionable information) Gathering is critical to getting ahead of emergency events. The goal is to be at least one step ahead of the thundering herd.


Sit-Rep October 18, 2018 , personal notes redacted

Global: (Redacted)

Taking periodic stock of world political, economic and military situations as they apply to the US is a good exercise in vetting truth from politically driven opinion and propaganda.  How could this affect YOU where you are in the next year?


National:  (Redacted)

Take stock of national and regional events within the continental USA- weather related, disease outbreaks, political events such as elections or key legislation, and economic conditions to determine how they may affect YOU where you are. Vet reports to separate truth from politically motivated stories calculated to evoke an emotional response


Local: (Redacted) What is the political, financial, and social climate in your community.  Distance to the closest major population center, businesses expanding or decreasing, ordinances and statutes which may affect your safety plan. What are the local employment prospects, arriving new populations, changes from single family dwellings to multi, new retirement communities, child care, low income housing, schools, retail outlets and industry setting up or closing down, changes in amount and types of crime, etc)


Family: (Redacted) Inventory changes in health and economic status for yourself and family members who are affected by or a part of your safety plan. Include allergies, chronic illnesses and prescription drug needs. Include skills and assets family members bring to the table under the headings of HEALING, (CPR and basic first aid should be the minimum for teens up to elderly), PROTECTING, GROWING, PRESERVING, REPAIR, BUILDING. Assets may include anything from generators to night vision to canning jars and diapers. Who has a plan in place to contribute and who will expect to be taken care of. 


While I don’t believe it’s possible to be totally prepared for any and all emergencies, I firmly believe that it’s wrong to use that as an excuse against taking reasonable steps to provide for comfort and survival when nothing comes out of the faucet, and the lights don’t work.

Emergency support in the form of utilities repair teams and National Guard mobilization would begin quickly, but work would be prioritized, and it could still take several days before outside assistance would affect your home.  Emergency services such as EMS, Fire and Police involve response times to our home ranging from 10 to 30 minutes under normal conditions. 

Depending upon the nature and scope of the emergency, those services are sure to be hampered to some degree.  This makes personal responsibility for security, medical needs and fire prevention a reality requiring advanced planning.

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PART 5: A Word on DENIAL:


Until an emergency happens, denial is the cheap, portable and popular option. There are no denial response kits to buy, no denial preparedness plans to rehearse, and there is no shortage of support for those who laugh at anyone who takes reasonable precautions against that moment when denial faces catastrophic failure.

Consider the old fable of the grasshopper who played all summer and made fun of the hard working ant preparing for winter. Hurricane Katrina is an excellent example of what happened to the grasshoppers when the government (which included several grasshoppers in leadership positions) was slow to respond to their needs.

Examples from the shores of Denial River.:

"What're you, some kind of paranoid conspiracy theorist?"

"It'll never happened here because it never has"

"Stop talking! You're upsetting me!"

"I've got my (insert item that makes me feel safe but won't make me safe by itself), so I don't have to worry." More on that in PART 7.

"You should trust God more."

"I'll just come stay with you." No, No you won't. More in a future post.

When Denial Fails, it can destroy you financially, professionally, physically and psychologically. Look at the poor grasshopper above and make a vow to avoid a similar fate.

Part 6: Bugging Out And Getting to Safety

Bugging out means to evacuate an area of immediate or imminent danger.  This could be weather related, a breakdown of public utilities, or civil unrest.  All of these things have occurred to some extent within the past 40 years, within 100 miles of where I’m sitting in rural Grant County. A basic kit allowing you to bug out safely greatly increases your chances of success in reaching your goal.

This from the cover of James Wesley Rawles book “Founders”. You and your spouse may not be capable of carrying fifty pound packs as you walk from Chicago to Idaho over the course of several months. So what ARE you capable of?

This from the cover of James Wesley Rawles book “Founders”. You and your spouse may not be capable of carrying fifty pound packs as you walk from Chicago to Idaho over the course of several months. So what ARE you capable of?


Bugging in is the process of surviving in place.  It could be the intended destination of your bug out plan.  It could be surviving in a tornado shelter or a barricaded classroom during an active shooter event while you await rescue. It could also involve remaining in your stranded vehicle for several hours as happened on US 94 south of Madison in the winter of 2007.  Remember that bugging out without a destination plan makes you a refugee, and limits your resources to what you can carry in your vehicle or on your person, assuming you can hang onto them. Avoid becoming a refugee at all costs!


****Deciding in advance, which conditions will trigger your emergency plan, and when it is safer to stay on place or leave the area is critical to the success of your plan.****

Part 7: EDC-Tier 1 Every Day Carry

Personal or Tier One EDC, to be carried on or close to your person at all times

The purpose of a Tier One EDC is to remain healthy for up to 24 hours until rescue or to reach your Tier Two EDC

            Medical: (According to your training)

                        Medications, trauma dressing, tourniquet, nasal airway, chest seals, chest

catheter, nitrile gloves, trauma shears, space blanket


                        Fully charged cell phone, charging cable, flashlight


                        1 Liter of Water, 2 Energy Bars


Defensive handgun + extra magazine plus a powerful flashlight (Minimum brightness, 200 lumens)

Door keys, wedge or other means of securing safe area

            Other:    Cash, List of medical info and emergency contacts.

Glasses and contact case, sterile saline (unopened), pepper spray/taser, multi tool, small camera case to contain all of the above.TOTAL WEIGHT AS SHOWN: 3 POUNDS


Part 8: Talisman Syndrome- A word of caution on the accumulation of “STUFF”.

We Americans are a gadget oriented society, and that is both a blessing and a curse. Because technology is readily available we, as a group, tend to take it for granted to the point of confusing having things with our ability to use them. Take the modern sporting rifle (AR-15) in our safe that we’ve never learned to use. –Or the knife a girl in college carries in the bottom of her purse for defense, but she has no idea about the reality of a knife fight being at “bad breath distance” from an attacker.  Or the police officer with a taser and before that, pepper spray, who believes they have made learning to fight on the ground obsolete, or the school district that thinks a video camera system will stop violence rather than just documenting it for a detective to view afterward, and so on.

The item becomes more of a luck charm than a survival tool.

If you have an item on these pages you are carrying around without having learned and practiced how to use it under the conditions you’ll need it (such as using that fancy fire making kit with frozen fingers), you are probably better off leaving it and the false sense of security that comes with it out of your pack.


Part 9: Tier Two EDC,

 Keep in your vehicle, by your front door or in your hotel room while traveling

The purpose of a Tier Two EDC is to augment your Tier One for up to three days as you await rescue or drive, walk, or otherwise make your way home or to a place of greater safety .



                        Moleskin patches for blisters, merino wool socks

                        IFAK: Individual First Aid Kit, according to level of training:

                        Two trauma dressings, chest catheter, nasal airway, CAT Tourniquet,                         medications, nitrile gloves, purel hand sanitizer, chest seals, trauma shears

                         Toilet paper


                        Cell phone charging unit and cable

                        Flashlights (2)

                        Chemlights –several

                        Binoculars and small mirror

                        Compass and maps

     Hand held CB radio (Channel 9 emergency band, 19 trucker, 2 local

Noaa Weather), Marine Band Radio, or Shortwave Hand held


                        Three days rations- MRE’s, power bars, high carbos,

                        Metal Knork eating utensil

    Rocket stove with coffee packets, bullion cubes, three disposable lighters,

spice, sugar and salt

                        Small bar or bottle disinfectant soap.

                        Two liters water and life straw water filter


                        Cleaning kit for firearm(s), extra ammunition (Three 33 rd magazines for

Glock 19 pistol)

            Other: Good quality backpack to contain the above, small battery powered am/fm radio, fixed blade knife and whetstone, Batteries, fire starter, spare glasses, Bivy bag and/or space blanket, hand warmers, hat, gloves. TOTAL WEIGHT AS SHOWN: 26 POUNDS


Here is my three day bag, a Hazard 4 E&E bag with three nalgene bottle packs from CATI Armor. Expense and quality don’t always go together, but if you try to go on the cheap, you will regret it.

PART 10: More on Every Day Carry, Your Mileage May Vary

 The more carefully chosen items you can carry close at hand, the better.  Discretion and practicality are the limiting factors.  Most of us already carry a few basic items in our pockets, purses, or backpacks that would make up a personal emergency kit.  Who you are and where you are will dictate what is right and practical for you. 

As a retired police officer, my kit is bit different from my daughter’s, working in an office on a university campus. Her husband has a skillset that will make his kit unique.  My wife, working in a cubicle at Landsend, will have different needs.  My son and his wife, working in a large city, will each have still different needs. All will have to take into account their small children to some degree. That means packing for more than one to include toys and diapers.


PART 10a: More on Every Day Carry


 Think of your vehicle as a base camp- a place to rest, resupply, and use to move to a safer location.

Your car is a good place to put your three-day pack.  How far you are from your long term bug in location will determine what you choose to keep in your car.  Keep in mind that a one hour drive can turn into a hard three day march if your vehicle is no longer an option. Your vehicle emergency repair kit will be covered in the next section.

The only way you’re going to know what works for you will be to fill your bag with the things you need and take at least an hour’s walk with it.  If you’re serious about this, and still want to do things on the cheap, you are going to wind up with a lot of backpacks, totaling more than you would have spent on a good one in the first place.

Observe and learn from the two groups in society that spend the most time with a pack over their shoulders: Soldiers and college students.  Better yet, find someone who’s been both and see what they carry.

A three day bag involves more items than your EDC kit, and at minimum it meets the same basic human needs as both the EDC and the bug in retreat: DEFENSE, COMMUNICATION, MEDICAL, FOOD/WATER.

PART 11: Vehicle Emergency Kit

A properly maintained and equipped vehicle can mean the difference between arriving at your long term retreat location rested, supplies intact, and arriving exhausted and empty handed, if at all.  Basic, routine maintenance should be a part of your emergency plan. Here is what’s in my kit, separate but in addition to my EDC kit, and my three-day bag: 

Two cans fix-a-flat, Tire puncture repair kit

Tow rope

Electrical tape and duct tape

Jumper cables

Crescent wrench and vice grip, screwdrivers

Cigarette lighter recharge cable for cell phone

Medium Fire extinguisher

Shovel, Machete

Polar fleece blanket

Road flares, two flashlights

One Gallon water, roll of toilet paper

CB walkie (Channel 5) and marine band radio, (channel 72), five minutes after every hour for five minutes. 

Siphon Hose

Cigarette lighter air compressor with light

Small solar charger to maintain battery

Winter: Emergency candle, 3 gal jug with a mix of gravel and road salt, heavy duty hand warmers, pack boots, sleeping bag


PART 12: WHEN to Bug Out

It’s impossible to tell in advance when to bug out under every possible circumstance.  It’s easier to make the decision if you have a plan and have identified the circumstances that will trigger your plan ahead of time.

Here are some general rules of thumb: 

-Based on what you know, if the danger of moving to another place outweighs the danger of staying put, stay put.  It’s important to reassess the situation regularly.

-If there are signs of growing danger where you are, bugging out will begin to make more sense.  Unless you are at your long term bug-in retreat, evacuation will become more necessary as time passes.

-Pick a time, pick a route, and if possible let someone at your destination know you are coming.


PART 13: WHEN to Bug Out

Bugging out may involve moving to your vehicle, and the extra resources you have put there.   Depending on the distance to and location of your vehicle, your personal safety en route will be a factor in deciding when and if to bug out.

You may be bugging out to a temporary shelter, either on foot or by vehicle.  Every move should be to a place of increased safety.  For example, after determining your initial location is unacceptably dangerous, you would evacuate to your vehicle, and then to your apartment.  From there, you would add your home bug out kit, family members and pets to your vehicle and move to a long term bug in retreat.  Circumstances may require you to modify your route and resources to arrive at a safe place.  Hard decisions will be less hard if you have considered them before hand.  To repeat what I said near the beginning of this page, bugging out without a destination makes you a refugee. AVOID BECOMING A REFUGEE AT ALL COSTS!


PART 14: HOW to Bug Out

Plan your route in advance.  Plugging coordinates into your GPS is an excellent idea.  Have at least two alternate routes planned.  Weather, traffic, security and availability of resources like gasoline will determine your best route.

The best time to add final supplies to your long term retreat may be on your initial trip to the store.  A rubber maid container with canned food, toiletries, clothing, pet food, etc, just big enough to fit into your vehicle should be a part of your final evac plan to longer term safety.  Modern grocery stores maintain a 1-2 day restocking supply, and returning to town for more might not be an option.  Plan ahead.


PART 15: “When the time comes, I’ll just go out and take what I need.”

 Before you adopt a plan that involves stealing, consider the people you’d be stealing from have already done a better job preparing than you did, and probably have a plan to deal with what you are considering. Better to prepare and secure your own place ahead of time, and leave looting to the looters.

No home, office, vehicle or person is is impregnable.  All people can do to keep themselves and their property safe from theft and personal attack is to make themselves and their property a harder and less attractive target than other people and property in the area.


No, no you won’t. The material I'm posting in this series is edited for the public and intended to help people with their own strategies before the "S" collides with "TF"

Prior to that bad day, however that looks, I'm willing to help. After that day, it's time to raise the drawbridge and care for me and mine, while you care for you and yours.

When I worked at the PD I kept a stash of MRE's (Meals, Ready to Eat) in my SWAT cubbie to give to people passing through asking for handouts who didn't qualify for salvation army or other assistance. It wasn't the hotel room and restaurant food they were usually expecting, but no one went away hungry.

I try to be able to offer something similar as long as it lasts, but only once and only as you're headed out my driveway.

Harsh? Not if you know ahead of time and have the opportunity to make your own preparations. Don't be a grasshopper!