… in an emergency?
And how helpful are you?
Yesterday’s emergency drill by Jake MacGregor got me pondering that old question.
In an emergency, or just generally in hard times, who helps you out and how helpful are you in turn?
If you’ve lived in the same neighborhood for a long time or if you have family in your vicinity, then you’ve probably got a pretty good start on answering this question. You know from long experience who’s reliable and who’s not, who’s trustworthy and who’s not. You know who’s got certain skills or tools. You know who can keep a steady head and who panics. And you know that, no matter how well prepared you are, those other people are going to matter to you, one way or another.
We who have no family … or who tend not to stay put … or who keep to ourselves … or who’ve just moved into a new area have a thornier problem.
Now, I personally, am blessed with wonderfully wide support group (you know who you are, guys). And “blessed” is the right word. But “wide” is the operative word; people I can rely on range from Massachusetts to South America. In any immediate, physical emergency, they and I aren’t going to be there for each other.
So just looking in the vicinity …
In Jake’s scenario, I wouldn’t be likely to turn to my immediate neighbors, nor (with a few exceptions) would I want them to turn to me.
I do have four people within 10 miles that I’d consider solid friends. In any emergency, they would reach out to me or I to them. That’s for sure. But beyond a “check-in” — “Are you okay?” “Have you got everything you need?” “If you need a place to stay …” — I’m not sure what would happen.
All four are aware people who have made at least some emergency preps. Three are far better off than me, financially (but would they be, if the banks closed and the ATMs went down?). That same three or their family members are DIYish enough to handle anything.
OTOH, only two of those three are seriously into preparedness. And only two (not the same two) live in what I would call secure locations.
In Jake’s scenario, one friend in particular (who is probably reading this blog right now) would be the likely survivor champ. She herself has outstanding skills and level-headedness that would make her among the most valuable members of any community in any emergency — and on top of that her family consists of three almost frighteningly bright, strong, and resourceful males.
In a Jake scenario, that family will be well able to take care of its own. But they’ll probably be called on to help out a lot of other people, too.
Yet, in a different sort of emergency — say an earthquake and tsunami — I would worry more about her and her family than any of my other friends because the place they live is just short of insanely dangerous, to my mind.
Another of the four has a heart of gold and would give her all to help others. But she’s physically the least well-prepared — and emotionally I’m not sure what she could handle. OTOH, because she’s such a loving, giving person, she has a huge potential support network — way beyond anything I’ll ever have (at least locally).
So who knows? All I know is something I’ve been saying all along; other people, including strangers, are more likely to be helpers than looters or hindrances.
I say I probably wouldn’t reach out to my immediate neighbors in an emergency or want them to reach out to me. But in reality it may turn out that even the &^%$#@! who blasts his &^%$#@! karaoke system all over the neighborhood or the people whose slaps and screams at their children can be heard by anyone passing under their windows might turn out to be good neighbors when push comes to shove.
But for them … I’ll carry openly so they’ll know there are limits.
And how about me? What sort of friend would I be to everybody else? Good question. Based on skills alone, I’d hardly be the person my friends would call first. I mean, seriously: writers and artists are strictly optional. But would I be valuable for keeping my head? For knowing something about preparedness? For extending a helping hand? For having tools or supplies others could use? For being watchful or properly suspicious when suspicion could be an asset?
This isn’t really about me, though. Or about my friends. I’m just using me and my circumstances as an example. When thinking of preparedness, we always tend to think of food, water, fuel, weapons, ammo — and forget that people are right up there in importance where our plans are concerned.