Creating a Disaster Survival Plan for My Kids Scares Me to Death

family survival plan

A not-so-fun mental exercise for me is to imagine my 6-year-old, who is an extremely picky eater, making his way through an MRE. An MRE, for those who are unfamiliar, is a Meal Ready-To-Eat, a self-contained amount of sustenance packaged in lightweight materials by the United States Military for its service members to use while in combat. An MRE soldier ration might contain a main entree of heatable chili macaroni and cheese, accompanied by hot chocolate, coffee, crackers, and a plastic spoon and moist towelette. They are not meant to be delicious, they’re meant to keep you alive while hopefully being as palatable as possible under austere conditions. I picture my boy, gazing mournfully at a torn-open package of powdered whatever, the bleak landscape behind him bolstering his decision to take another bite instead of whining that the noodles aren’t shaped like Sponge Bob.


We have a shitload of MREs, you see. We have a lot of other packaged foods, canned items, and water — but it’s the MREs my mind turns to when I think of us hunkering down after some imagined disaster.

I don’t know what this disaster will be. The greatest possibility is that it’s an earthquake, the predicted tsunami/megaquake brought on by the rumblings of the Cascadia subduction zone. Scientists have been freaking me out lately by pointing out that there’s a disturbing lack of seismic activity from this area and thus they say pressure may be building for a “massive release” as the fault continues to NOT slip. (Slip, damn you, slip! Just … get under that bedrock, or whatever you’re supposed to do!) Our infrastructure wasn’t built to handle a major quake and so if one happens, everything will break apart.

I mean, I’m no expert, but I think that’s the best way to describe it: shit will be raggedy. Bridges and roads will be gone, communications destroyed. When we lived in Seattle we had a winter windstorm that knocked out the power for a few days and it was shocking how fast everything devolved. Our neighborhood grocery store was practically emptied overnight, we waited three hours to fill the gas in our truck because of fueling delays. Our house was freezing and since we didn’t have a generator at that time (we sure have one now!) we had to huddle around the fireplace. I remember bundling our oldest son, then a baby, in three successive pajama sleepers until he was sausaged in there like a Russian nesting doll.

If that’s how fast our comfortable living situation broke down because of a brief power outage, imagine the damage a full-scale earthquake could do. We’re talking freeways mangled, cell phone towers down, the complete zombie apocalypse nightmare ... only hopefully there are no ravaging hordes of flesh-eating humans.

Zombies aside, it wouldn’t take long for society to get nasty, would it? People who are hungry and scared and cold and out of medicine are going to do unpredictable things, and I don’t think it’s paranoid to visualize how that could play out. I look at my energy-inefficient one-story house that’s full of access points and I can’t help but think that the crazy preppers on TV who bury bunkers in their backyards aren’t really so crazy after all.

With all the civil unrest happening as a result of Ferguson and other race-related protests, it’s hard not to feel like the storm that’s coming might not be of the natural variant. Well, unless you call violent human behavior natural. If so, the possibilities there are as myriad and upsetting as the storms in the sky or the shakings underground.

We have some food, some water. But that’s all I’ve done. I haven’t stockpiled medications or created a solid family emergency plan like the Red Cross tells us to do. Why not? I guess because it’s really, really unpleasant to think about this stuff. And it’s expensive, of course. It makes me feel like a tinfoil-hat-wearing fear monger.

But it’s not fear mongering to take small measures to be prepared, right? Jesus, I could take a first aid course, purchase more resources, and help create a family plan. This is something I should do, as a mom. Why am I always pushing it aside? Why is it so hard to take the necessary steps to help ensure my family’s safety?

I don’t have answers, but I’m sure curious how you feel about the subject. Do you plan and prepare for emergencies? If not, why?

Image via Flickr/keoni101


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