Preparedness Starts with Faith

As a father, I feel the weight of preparing my family, my home, and my testimony for the “Last Days”. I accept this responsibility and take it seriously. Recently, I was asked to start a ward preparedness committee by my bishop and I readily accepted the charge. I have been researching various areas of preparedness for myself for several years, but now I am expanding my research to include: motivating neighbors and ward members to focus on personal preparedness responsibilities, organizing trainings, sharing organized information, setting up zones or blocks in the ward boundaries, finding subject matter experts, listening and coordinating preparedness ideas in a committee forum, etc.

Expanding my personal preparedness efforts may or may not work at the ward level. Who am I? Why should anyone listen to me? If we listen to what our prophets say, why are we all at different levels of preparedness? Is it just about limited finances? I have given the lessons to help wake up the members of my ward. Not much reaction……..what about these quotes I just shared about the Book of Mormon times mirroring our own days? Lots of thoughts are going through my mind as I look at my ward family as I would my own family.

Faith is a wonderful thing and will carry a person through many trials throughout a lifetime. It would be difficult to explain my testimony of faith. It is there, I know it is there, and I know that I rely on it. Food storage, for many people, is a shapeless object in an undesired conversation. My faith prompts me to have food storage and other necessities. How can I share my testimony of preparedness and self-reliance so my ward family would be prompted to action?

A few weeks ago I discovered this blog started by Mark Leck. I was immediately attracted to the simplicity of the certification program for motivating my ward family to action. For the 5th Sunday class on July 31st, my committee and I will be presenting our combined efforts and designs for each family in the ward to understand the daunting task of preparing an individual family for basic disasters. These goals can be reached with the combined efforts of many. As a bishopric, ward council, and as a preparedness committee, we have committed ourselves to follow the certification program ourselves and organize our efforts to help other families reach the same self-reliance goals. In addition, I will attempt to journalize these efforts here in blog form for other wards to follow and compare with there own ward goals.

I have a great love for my fellow man. I know many non-members are searching for ways to prepare their families for the future. Preparedness can be a great missionary tool and it will be as we follow the Spirit, follow the Prophet, and put our faith into action.

Andy

FEMA Administrator Calls Amateur Radio “The Last Line of Defense”

My father, K9RJ, recently came across the following article on ARRL.org, which really shows the validity of Amateur Radio as a mean of providing effective emergency communications… something the Church has always recognized. Enjoy!

Mark

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The ARRL Article: In an FCC forum on earthquake communications preparedness, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate described the Amateur Radio operator as “the ultimate backup, the originators of what we call social media.” Continue reading

How prepared to you think you truly are?

Recently our Stake Presidency did something I would consider quite unprecedented…

One week before each ward conference in the Stake (on the preceding Sunday), under the direction of the Stake Presidency the Bishop selected 2-3 families from each ward, invited them into his office, and gave them this assignment:

Over the next 72 hours, we would like you to participate in an emergency preparedness exercise. You are to simulate that a large earthquake has just hit our neighborhood. You have no power at your house — please go home and shut it off — you have no central heat (this was in March in Utah — it was still snowing/freezing outside), there is no way to refuel your vehicles so you can only drive with the fuel you currently have on hand, and NO water, etc. and you are not allowed to buy anything. You must only use the supplies that you currently have on hand to survive over the next 3 days. Don’t tell anyone in the ward what you’re doing, but during Ward Conference on Sunday, we’d like you to share your experiences with the ward.

At least that was the gist of it; and the exercise began as soon as they left the Bishops office. No last minute shopping trips — this was suppose to be real.

When I learned about this in my ward, there was one family in particular that I thought shouldn’t be asked to do this assignment. I consider them as one of the most prepared families in our ward/stake, and I just thought it wouldn’t give a realistic perspective. They live on an acreage, raise cows, have the largest garden I’ve ever seen, have a massive food supply, tow trailer, 500 gallons of diesel, a stream in their backyard, etc… they are what I in many ways aspire to be in the future in terms of preparedness. A truly self-sustaining/self-contained household. But they are an extreme outlier in our Stake, and I just didn’t think that would be a fair comparison.

Of course, I don’t make decisions and as fate would have it, they were one of the families asked to complete this assignment. The other family I think was much closer to the norm, but still more prepared than many. As I sat there during ward conferences and heard the assignment these poor families had been given, I confess that I was truly excited to hear about their experiences (no matter how painful they might have been). As I listened to them explain that they couldn’t use any utilities (no water, gas, electricity, etc), I started to go through a mental checklist of my own to think about all the potential ramifications and what supplies I had to cope with various situations. I starting thinking about how cold it was outside, and how long it would take for the internal temperature of the house to drop to extremely uncomfortable levels. I also thought about the victims of the Earthquake/Tsunami in Japan — who were left homeless, in the middle of winter, with homes flooded and destroyed. This exercise was nothing by comparison, and yet it also wasn’t a joke. This could be really tough.

What about children? Pets? Medications, etc. No stores, no utilities, nothing… How prepared to you think you truly are?

So, the super-prepared couple in our ward are close friends of mine. After listening to their remarks I followed up with some additional questions. My first question was, “What was the most striking thing about this whole experience?” (Remember, these guys are super prepared).

The most striking thing to me was how extremely inconvenient the whole experience was. How difficult it was. I thought it would be a cakewalk… I consider myself very prepared. But this was hard… really hard. You begin to realize all the little things that you have taken for granted. All the conveniences we have free up our time. As soon as those are taken away, most of your energy gets spent on survival.

In his remarks, he pointed our several areas that people often don’t think about. For example, because they had no running water, how are you going to flush your toilets? The first flush was free, but after that, you had to provide the water needed to flush. Because they had a stream in there backyard, John would go out and scoop up a bucket of water and leave it next to the toilet. But that was a pain. The other family didn’t have that luxury. They figured out exactly how much water it took to flush the toilet but had to use water they had on reserves if they wanted to flush. Soon they implemented the old “if it’s yellow, let it mellow.” But what if the toilets weren’t functioning or the sewage were damaged. What is your strategy? This was only one example though. Water in general was troublesome, even if they had it stored. Brushing teeth was another commonly mentioned item, but also what happened if you needed to wash cloths. What if the disaster was more than 72-hours. How would you do that?

Lighting was another big deal. Both families talked about not having adequate lighting around their home once they lost power. Candles were soon rationed so they’d last the three days (and in a real disaster, you don’t know how long it will be). One family had a hurricane lantern tha they said was amazing, but wished they had 3-4 others.

Then there was cooking. Now, both families had propane stoves/portable camp stoves to cook with (in fact one family had three) — however, both of them talked about maintaining and testing that equipment. For one family, 2/3 stoves weren’t in working condition. That left them with only a single stove. They also talked about how different gases could leave bad marks/residues on their kitchen cookware.

Heat was another common theme. Both homes began to get very cold. People were walking around in ski gear, and bundling all the blankets they could find to stay warm at night. Both families said people should look into indoor propane heaters with carbon monoxide safety systems built into them. I recognized this was a serious omission in my own disaster planning.

Other items mentioned were:

  • LED Flashlights/Lights (was better for battery usage)
  • Medical Prescriptions
  • Soaps, toiletries, etc.
  • Pet Food

On a positive note, both families noticed that they spent much more time talking with one another. All of the normal diversions (computers, TV, electronics, etc) had gone away. They played cards, board games, and just talked to one another.

I also quizzed a friend of mine in a neighboring ward who had been asked to participate. This was one of his closing comments from his email, which I thought was a very appropriate reminder:

Overall, I think this kind of test is a very good one to let a family look at things, go over the scenarios, and make plans to improve things. I still think that our stake plan is a great one. I think people in the church get discouraged because other people keep talking about large, expensive, time-consuming, life-altering things that “must” be done to be prepared. Most people I talk to just get discouraged and throw up their hands up “It’s too complicated and too much”. Even in our discussion about this test, people were raising their hands and saying outrageous things that nobody is going to do unless they have lots of time, money, land, and space. It needs to be more practical. I look at all the actual disasters that have happened in the last few years and how long it took to restore access to food, water, electricity, etc. and whether or not people stayed or had to leave their houses. I also think we have to look at scenarios for where we actually live and not ones that are impossible or improbable. I think that being well prepared for a solid 3 months would cover almost all likely scenarios for our area (not the doomsday ones). It is also likely that we would have to leave, so the grab-and-go scenario is important to prep for. If we got everyone to level 1 on the stake plan, we would be the most prepared population on the earth!

This is a great reminder that it doesn’t have to take a lot of money to prepare, but it does take a bit of planning. Going through an exercise like this helps to expose the weaknesses in your own planning. I thought it was an exceptional exercise and extremely beneficial for those families, and for us as members.

At the close of the meeting, our Stake Emergency Preparedness specialist got up and said that at our next ward conference, the Stake would be holding a similar challenge, but said he couldn’t offer any details. However, he provided us with a huge hint, and put a backpack on the table that looked an awful lot like a 72-hour kit…

Geeze — if you thought living in your home for 3-days was bad… imagine grabbing your backpack full of MREs! I’ll let you know how that goes.

Great Quotes on Emergency Preparedness

“Many areas of the world have experienced difficult economic times. Businesses have failed, jobs have been lost, and investments have been jeopardized. We must make certain that those for whom we share responsibility do not go hungry or unclothed or unsheltered. When the priesthood of this Church works together as one in meeting these vexing conditions, near miracles take place.

“We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt.” – President Thomas S. Monson, October 2008 Priesthood Session, General Conference

“Avoid the philosophy that yesterday’s luxuries have become today’s necessities. They aren’t necessities until we make them so. Many enter into long-term debt only to find that changes occur; people become ill or incapacitated, companies fail or downsize, jobs are lost, natural disasters befall us. For many reasons, payments on large amounts of debt can no longer be made. Our debt becomes as a Damocles sword hanging over our heads and threatening to destroy us.”

– President Thomas S. Monson, April 2006 General Conference

“We have built grain storage and storehouses and stocked them with the necessities of life in the event of a disaster. But the real storehouse is the family storeroom. In words of revelation the Lord has said, ‘Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing’ (D&C 109:8.)”

President Gordon B. Hinckley

Continue reading

Welcome to LDS Emergency Preparedness

Welcome to LDS Emergency Preparedness. I have been working to port over all of the old information in my previous website (www.hc14.com) to this site. This will provide me with greater flexibility and especially feedback. I hope you enjoy the site.

If your specifically interested in the Emergency Preparedness Certification Program, click here.

Mark

Amateur Radio

Editors Note: This was an older article written in 2009.

By: Mark Leck, W7UAR

Imagine if the only time that you could pray to Heavenly Father was when things were going well. If life was good, then you were able to open a dialog with diety, and seek whatever guidance you wanted. However, if you got into a bind, and there was a real emergency, imagine if you couldn’t pray?!?! What an awful thought! That if when you were in trouble, and really needed to talk with Heavenly Father, the lines of communication through prayer just didn’t work.

Well, fortunately, this isn’t true!

However, in real life emergencies, normal forms of communication do go down. Cellular phones and land lines stop working, and what do you do then? Listening to the AM/FM radio is better than nothing, but it’s still only one-way communication – and definitely not as helpful as being able to talk to someone. Amateur Radio is a practical solution for this problem, and is the solution the Church has endorsed for use by its members, wards, stakes, and in general. It is almost unparalleled in its ability to provide communications under emergency situations, is cost effective, and has relatively few barriers to entry.

Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that becoming an Amateur Radio operator takes an extensive knowledge of electronics/computers, costs a lot of money, or requires some extra ordinary intelligence. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Becoming an Amateur Radio operator requires little more than an interest in the hobby and the willingness to study for a basic exam. Frequently, many people interested in the hobby attend a 1 day workshop that goes from A to Z about the hobby, and then provides them with an opportunity to take the licensing test immediately after (yes, you do have to pass a licensing exam to become an Amateur Radio operator). This is actually how I got my license when I was 12 years old, and my younger brother did it at 11.

The benefits of the hobby are extensive, but really just depend on why you became interested. If all you want your license for is the reassurance of the ability to communicate in emergency situations, this peace of mind will provide a wonderful “sleep at night??? type feeling. However, if you are willing to explore the hobby, you will find an incredible community of people dedicated to serving their communities and each other. You’ll also find people who love to “tinker??? and explored new technologies and better ways to communicate. Needless to say, I?ve never met a single individual who has ever regretted the time they spent to get their Amateur Radio license.

So, what do you need to do to become an Amateur? Well, I’m going to get that information ready for another webpage. In the mean time, feel free to email me at mark@thelecks.com. Our ward and stake has been trying to put together a class for those interested in becoming a “Ham”, and I will try to get this information up as soon as possible.