The way we break up and define the levels of preparedness can help us to form a concrete plan to cover the full range of emergencies. It is up to each person and family to decide what levels they feel they need to prepare for.
We will use the colored pyramid in our logo to represent these levels.
This is a mild state of emergency. You might not even consider it an emergency when it happens. This can include a power outage, snowstorm, or localized flooding that does not directly affect you. Everyone is sure to experience these, possibly on a regular basis. Many people already plan for this without thinking of it as a level of preparedness. Keeping flashlights handy, having extra blankets, keeping a little extra food on hand, and keeping a bag in your car in case you break down are all examples of this. This type of emergency is very temporary such as 2 or 3 days and does not require you to evacuate. These scenarios also do not pose a deadly threat unless there are other circumstances involved. A complication could be a preexisting illness that requires elevated care. A good way to prepare is to list the type of scenarios you want to plan for and the items needed for them. Then chose a designated place to keep items you need quick access to and ensure everyone knows this. In this case keeping flashlights, candles, and power banks in a drawer or closet will let you immediately respond to a power failure.
This level covers a lot of the same scenarios that Blue does, but in this case, they are longer term. These affect less individuals and are far less frequent in lots of areas. This initial emergency begins to generate other problems. In the case of a power outage, several days without power will cause you to need to have a backup plan for food preparation. Also in areas without municipal water, you will not have access to running water. That becomes an issue with drinking water and hygiene. On this level, these issues are still short enough term to not require evacuation, but some people will still choose to if they have a place to go and can safely travel. In a large snowstorm or localized flooding, it may not be safe to travel unless absolutely necessary. In the case of floods, this level may even see some flooding in your dwelling, but it is not enough to force you to leave. Special caution does have to be taken to avoid hygiene issues due to possible contaminates in the flood water.
This level includes scenarios that require evacuation. This can include wildfires, massive flooding, an EMP, social breakdown, or a hazardous material situation. This is a regional situation whether it be in one city, county, or state. Some individuals or areas may never experience these issues, but will be heavily impacted if they do. It is reasonable to evacuate the area, but very likely will result in massive damage or loss of your home and personal property. It may also find you evacuating on short notice with no known return date . This could leave you with little more than the clothes on your back if you are not prepared. At that point you are competing for resources with all the other displaced individuals and families. Government and private response could be slow to arrive or nonexistent. Depending on “being saved” is a very risky proposition. This requires planning for a “Bug Out” you may have heard referred to. This simple means that you have supplies prepared in advance that can be quickly picked up and taken with you. There may be no time to gather them. You planning should also have a contingency plan for having no access to transportation beyond you own feet. This greatly hampers what can be taken with you. Be reasonable, you will find you are not Superman. Better to be realistic of your max carry weight and adjust accordingly than to wear yourself out quickly and have to dump equipment mid evacuation. Stress and exhaustion will not give you a clear perspective to make these decisions that could be life or death.
This is the worst and farthest reaching scenario level. This will affect entire countries, continents, or even be global. No area will be spared that you can escape to. It is a total breakdown of normal services that leads to a social breakdown or possibly vice versa. This could be called an apocalyptic issue. It might never happen to this extent in most of the world, but being unprepared will count you in the casualties. This will leave you totally on your own or, if you are lucky, with a small group, be it family or friends. Due to the specialization and interdependence of our current world, things will quickly deteriorate into a situation that might make Mad Max look like a day at the spa. In this case, you will need far more than you could ever carry or store. Survival will depend on skills and knowledge. These two items weigh nothing, but will take you father than any stockpile of food can.
A secondary way to build your planning is to apply levels to your budgeting. Some people might spend hundreds of dollars on the “best” knife or other equipment. If you cannot or do not want to budget for that level of items, you can go with less expensive alternatives. In this case you may just need to spend time to train and fit the item to your needs. If we ever fall victim to a Red level scenario, there will be lots of people with packs full of brand new top-of-the-line equipment still in its packaging. That money they spent will be doing them little good. The only benefit it might have is when you pick up the equipment where it was discarded or off their corpse.