Recently a number of people have asked us if they really need a disaster “what if” plan.
Both preppers and homesteaders alike sometimes think, if they have enough essential supplies in place, they’re well prepared enough to endure whatever the future brings.
Whatever happens, they feel ready for it.
Unfortunately, in many disasters, it’s the unanswered “what ifs”, those unforeseen scenarios you never thought of, that end up costing you the most.
What is a Disaster “What if” Plan?
There are all kinds of basic disaster plans. In fact, we describe 10 of them in another article on this site.
A “what if” plan takes those ordinary disaster plans and adds a what if component to each section.
For each assumption you have in your plan (everything from how much food or water you need to when and whether you bug out), it challenges you to consider alternative options should that assumption fail to materialize.
As a result, you get a far more comprehensive disaster plan than you could have imagined previously.
All because you asked the simple question, “What if…?”
How The ‘What If” Planning Strategy Works:
As you prepare your plan and figure out the details, go back and challenge each assumption you’ve made by asking a series of probing “what if” questions. Here are a few examples:
Food Planning What Ifs
Assumption: You’ve concluded that you’ll need enough food and nutrition to enable 4 family members to eat 3 simple meals a day for 30 days.
What If Question 1: What if the disaster is so serious you cannot replenish your food supplies beyond 30 days to 60 or even 90 days? What would you do then?
- Store more canned food just in case?
- Buy more long term food buckets?
- Gather seeds and grow a garden?
- Start raising goats, cows, chickens, etc.—food on the hoof?
- Barter with neighbors?
What If Question 2: What if chaos runs amuck in the violent aftermath of a disaster? Suddenly armed men are swarming your property looking for food. What would you do to protect your supplies?
- Upgrade your food pantry locks to prevent unauthorized entry.
- Disperse your supplies to safe locations. Where would those be?
- Increase security (firearms, surveillance videos, etc.).
- Camouflage your food stores location somehow.
- Create a joint security force with neighbors.
Add as many “what if” questions as you can think of. When you decide which of these (or other) solutions make the most sense, include it in your plan!
Water Planning “What Ifs”
Assumption: After analysis, you conclude that if you store up enough water to last X number of days, you’ll have all you need.
“What If” Question: What if your supplies are somehow compromised and no longer available? Where will you get the water you need?
- Dig a well on your property so that, even if the containers fail, you’ll still have a reliable water source.
- Disperse your water supplies to several locations so, if one is compromised, the others will still be available?
- Upgrade your water containers to more secure (stronger, safer) vessels?
What other “what if” questions can you think of that would help you improve your water supplies in case of disaster? The more you challenge your assumptions, the stronger your water planning will be.
Communications Planning “What Ifs”
Assumption: Let’s assume your plan has laid out how family members are to communicate during/after a disaster. It spells out emergency gathering points, lists phone numbers and emergency contacts (police, fire, medical).
“What If” Question: What if an emergency occurs and a family member does not have a phone to contact you or others? And even if they have a phone, the lines are tied up. How can you get around this?
- Name a family emergency meeting place and make sure every family member knows about how and when to gather there.
- Provide each family member a list of contact numbers on a small sheet of paper that can fit into a wallet or purse and remain there permanently.
- Specify in your plan that, in an emergency, each person should communicate not by phone (which may be tied up by high call volume), but by text (which may have open lines).
What other communications-related “what ifs” can you think of? Add them to your plan.
Evacuation Plan “What Ifs”
Assumption: Your emergency evacuation plan lays out all your thoughts about how to handle an evacuation order. You know where to go, and you’ve got your bug out bag and medical kit all ready to go.
“What If” Question: What if you’ve been gathering all the bugout bag supplies your disaster plan calls for, but you discover it’s too much (and too heavy) for your bag? What can you do?
- Gather your supplies BEFORE you buy your bag. That way you’ll know what size bag to buy.
- Pack your bag and go on a field trip to make sure it’s not too heavy and that you’ve got everything you need.
- Separate out the medical supplies into a smaller bag, giving you more space and less weight.
Now is the time to question whether you’ve got the right amount of supplies for your bugout bag. What other “what ifs” can you come up with?
What If You Could Create the Perfect Disaster Plan?
Asking lots of what if questions can help improve your disaster plan immensely. What if you did that right now? Challenge your plan in order to improve it.
The more you question your plan, the better it will be. You can never ask too many “what if” questions. Ask now, and reap the rewards in the future.