OPINION – For the better part of the past week, I’ve watched with interest as a friend in Central Idaho has posted earthquake updates almost daily.
Granted, these have only been small quakes measuring up to 4.6 on the Richter scale. Still, they are a reminder that preparedness for the unexpected is wise.
Some years ago, a group of our friends came together with the goal of improving the personal preparedness of our families. Many of us met at a seminar featuring a cold weather survival specialist named Jim Phillips.
Jim’s approach to preparedness was refreshingly optimistic. Two of his observations have stuck with me.
The first was that anyone who lives long enough will encounter what Jim called “interesting times.” The second was that being prepared for interesting times makes what could have been an ordeal into an adventure.
We, along with our friends, decided to make preparedness a priority. Though most of us still had young children, we wanted to include them as much as possible.
To that end, we created a camping club. Our goal was to regularly take our families camping, teach one another useful skills, and enjoy the sights and scenery of Southern Utah while we did it.
Some of our favorite camping spots included Grass Valley, Cedar Pockets North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Pinto Springs, Enterprise Reservoir, and Lime Kiln Canyon. We planned our camping trips year round since disasters can happen at any time of year.
This meant camping in conditions ranging from sweltering summer heat to single digit temperatures. We suffered the bugs, sunburns, and cold hands and feet. We hiked and discovered caves and watched the wildlife. Our evening hours were spent visiting around the campfire.
These camping trips gave us the perfect opportunity to test our gear. It didn’t take long to discover what worked well and what didn’t. Likewise, we found that we could get by with much less gear than we might have thought. Roughing it can actually be a lot of fun.
Each time we camped, adult members of the camping club were asked to come prepared to teach a particular skill to the others. We all learned how to tie the most useful knots and how to properly use a GPS and to read a map. We made our own cold weather clothing.
We took hikes to learn to identify local plants that were edible and which ones had medicinal value. We practiced building shelters, cooking outdoors, and using first aid—occasionally for real. We learned to identify stars and planets.
Our kids were taught skills like how to make a solar oven, purify water, and what to do if they became lost.
The opportunity to build our survival skills went beyond our camping excursions. Most of us signed up for CERT classes in our various communities. These classes are offered at a very small cost and provide a wealth of information in how to deal with a wide range of disasters.
Some of us enjoyed our CERT training enough that we went on to become trainers ourselves.
Our camping club learned a number of valuable lessons along the way. First and foremost, we learned the value of teamwork amongst our members. Each of us had complementary skills that allowed us to contribute to the overall knowledge of the group.
In a real disaster or survival situation, lone wolf types are at a distinct disadvantage. Having a network of trusted friends creates a safety net that provides real peace of mind. Even though many of us lived in different communities, we knew that there was a safe haven nearby in almost every direction.
We set up phone trees and amateur radio protocols to check on each others wellbeing and to stay in touch in the event of an emergency. We researched and made group purchases for camping gear, food storage, and first aid and survival supplies.
When one of our members was moving or needed help with a specific project, we had a ready-made volunteer labor force there to help.
We came to know each other at a level that inspires deep and lasting trust. By this, I mean the kind of trust that would provide needed help, at a moment’s notice, with no questions asked.
Our children also gained useful skills without ever realizing that they were taught principles of personal preparedness.
What exactly are we preparing for? We’re preparing for life, of course.
- Public information officers train in earthquake response
- Great Utah Shakeout trains at Dixie Regional; STGnews Videocast
- Mag. 4.1 quake leads off two dozen earthquakes 37 miles from St. George
- Morning earthquake; Southern Utah is earthquake country
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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