If you believe everything the major news outlets tell you, our nation is on the verge of an apocalyptic summer with violence and civil unrest. As a general guideline, most of us try not to get caught up in the exceptionalism of the media and the combination of misinformation and loosely-based facts to further an agenda.
We do, however, believe that this summer will be a rough time for everyone across the planet. This blog is going to serve as a guide to prepare yourself and your family for the massive protests and potential violence that will undoubtedly occur as Covid restrictions are relaxed.
What Are the 12 Steps of FEMA Disaster Preparedness?
I have a unique experience of being trained by the federal government in disaster preparedness and would like to share my personal thoughts, based on the FEMA guidelines. I will include a list of the 12 steps we all should take in preparing for civil unrest. There are always going to be different interpretations of what you need and how to implement a plan, but the basics are always the same.
Sign up for alerts and Warnings
Make a Plan
Save for a Rainy Day
Practice Emergency Drills
Test Family Communication Plan
Plan with Neighbors
Make Your Home Safer
Know Evacuation Routes
Assemble and/or Update Supplies
Get Involved in Your Community
Document and Insure Property
SIGN UP FOR ALERTS AND WARNINGS
As unfortunate as it is to have to talk to our families about what-if scenarios, it’s important to be prepared for anything. The first thing everyone should do right now is to sign up for emergency alerts on their phones.
The most important alert you can have is the Emergency Alert System (EAS). This service should already be available with every phone, cable, or media company in the country. This system is a way for the President of the United States to communicate with the public within 10 minutes of a national emergency.
What is the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS)?
IPAWS is important to know because if you’re anything like me, you receive dozens of calls or messages every day from solicitors all across the country. How do you know if a message is legitimate? IPAWS is an authenticated messaging system that allows the local government to contact Americans if an incident is ongoing in their neighborhood.
For example, if there is a massive protest in your area and things are turning violent, you could get a message from IPAWS telling you to get out of the area or shelter in place. Establishing a plan ahead of time and practicing your plan with your family will give you the best opportunity to keep them safe and secure during any civil unrest.
MAKE A PLAN
Making a plan with your family is one of the most important things you can do to give them the best chances of keeping safe during any civil unrest or mass casualty event in your area. You need to have an honest conversation with your family and help educate them on what you expect them to do and what their responsibilities are during any event.
What Should I Talk With my Family About?
How will each person receive emergency alerts and warnings?
Shelter plan with individual responsibilities
If we must evacuate our home, how will we do it?
If we are separated during the event, How will we communicate?
Do I Need to Update our Go-Bag?
Monitor CDC and FEMA Websites and Social Media for Status Updates
SAVE FOR A RAINY DAY
FEMA recommends having 3 months of your income saved for any kind of emergency, from natural disaster to civil unrest. With the worst pandemic in over a century, I understand most Americans don’t have enough money to save for 3 months. Regardless, if you must leave your home, it’s imperative that you have some cash to get through at least a week.
PRACTICE EMERGENCY DRILLS
As a former soldier and police officer, I can’t overstate the importance of training. Personally, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t take my training seriously. The biggest mistake people make is thinking that they can think and react the same in stressful situations as they can in normal everyday situations. This level of thinking is incredibly dangerous and frankly, arrogance at its worst.
I’m not going to act like practicing how to shelter in place or evacuate your home in a unified and safe manner is fun. I used to hate training because I used to think I would do what I needed to if the time came. To put it bluntly, taking training seriously can be the difference between life and death. Don’t risk your family because something isn’t fun to do and I promise you’ll be grateful that you practiced when your family is safe and secure.
TEST FAMILY COMMUNICATION PLAN
I highly recommend that everyone go out and buy portable phone chargers that can be recharged through battery or USB. The last thing you want is to get into your car and everyone has 50% battery on their phones.
I recently went back to using an iPhone after about 7 years with an Android. The reason I went back is that iPhones are able to communicate with other iPhones even if there is no service. With the number of towers in our country, it’s very likely that you’re able to connect to a tower and get a text out to your family if need be.
I highly recommend buying portable radios for your family that runs on long-lasting batteries as a second means of communication. Once you get a radio, teach your family how to properly use them and test the range of each radio. Understanding the capabilities of your equipment is vital to survival and peace of mind.
SAFEGUARD IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
I take pictures of every important document that I have and print those pictures and add them to a separate folder. If you have a safe, place all your important documents inside and ensure they’re labeled and organized. This will help you save time if you’re in a hurry and ensure that you don’t forget anything valuable to your family.
Another practice I use is to make copies of documents and give copies to my brother and father who live in different states than I do. Saving everything you have to something like Icloud is beneficial as well because it cuts down on things you need to carry if you have to evacuate.
PLAN WITH NEIGHBORS
In the event of civil unrest, entire neighborhoods can become makeshift warzones with homemade explosives, stray bullets, and looters. Planning with your neighbors will allow you to increase your defenses and be on the same page if you have to act fast. I would never give my neighbors access to my life savings, but sharing your evacuation plans, communication plans, and shelter-in-place ideas can be highly beneficial.
MAKE YOUR HOME SAFER
I’m a firm believer in using a security system, such as ADT, SimpliSafe, or Vivint. Research has shown that homes with security systems in place are significantly less likely to be broken into or invaded. If you can’t afford a security system, I recommend posting a “beware of dog” sign because that makes people think twice about looting your home. “what if I don't have a dog?” It doesn’t really matter because people will see the sign and most likely go to the next home.
In a civil unrest event with protesters and looters, you have to worry about the violence spilling into your neighborhood. This is why it’s important to have something to protect your windows, such as a board or an aluminum sheet that you can drill into the outside of your window frame. It’s also a good idea to create some sort of barrier between your home and the streets, such as fences, trees, or bushes.
KNOW EVACUATION ROUTES
It’s imperative that you always have a way out if things get to be too much. If your street is burning and thousands of people are fighting with knives and guns, it’s probably a good time to look for a way out. FEMA always recommends staying put if you can, but that’s why it’s important to monitor the situation in real-time. If you have a clear exit and you’re worried about your family’s safety in your neighborhood, do what you have to do.
Practicing your evacuation route with your family is important and can’t be overstated. I always look at back roads, side streets, and the closest highway. When you practice, time out how long it takes for you to drive to each surrounding area. Know your evacuation routes by heart and practice at night. Looking at your phone is the wrong thing to do in a stressful situation, so keep everything hands-free.
ASSEMBLE AND/OR UPDATE SUPPLIES
Creating a go-bag for a civil disturbance is one of the most unfortunate things we’ve had to recommend. It sucks that we live in a society where we need to be prepared for violence in our city streets, but it’s important to be prepared. Based on federal guidelines, a basic go-bag includes the following:
Water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation)
Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
Battery Powered or Hand Crank radio
First aid kit
Batteries (every item that needs batteries should have replacements
Whistle or noise maker for safety and signal for help
Garbage bags, baby wipes, and plastic ties to keep the smell secluded
Cell phone with an extra battery or battery pack
GET INVOLVED IN YOUR COMMUNITY
The more people you know in your community, the more likely you are to help and receive help from those families. With political division growing, it’s important to humanize each other so we can see how much more we have in common than we have differences. Communities that stick together are more likely to stay safer because there is always strength in numbers. I think we can all be sure that our families are worth the time to work together with people we don’t know.
DOCUMENT AND INSURE YOUR PROPERTY
I touched on this earlier by taking pictures of your valuables, but it’s also important to ensure your valuables. You can go to any bank in the country and ask to insure your belongings, also called house insurance. You will pay more (most likely) per month, but you can ensure your belongings and store copies of official documents, such as a living will, bonds, or power of attorney.
How Can ShotStop® Help?
ShotStop® can help individual families, communities, and businesses with either our BallisticBoard® or lightweight Level III+PS body armor. If you look at FEMA’s 12 steps to be prepared for a disaster, we can help with #8 and #10.
BallisticBoard® is our patented ballistic protection that can be inserted into the drywall of a home to protect your family from stray bullets. If you’re building a home or already live in a home or apartment, get in contact with a contractor and have them contact our sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org. BallisticBoard® has been used so far as lightweight armor for police cars, doors entering public buildings, and children’s bookbags.
We understand not everyone could have BallisticBoard® installed, so we recommend buying our individual body armor plates. Many people around the country think this summer will be an emotionally charged summer with the break of Covid. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are in mourning after losing a family member to Covid and the civil unrest is still currently affecting major U.S. cities, such as Portland, OR. and Chicago, Illinois.
SHOTSTOP® LEVEL III+PA BODY ARMOR PLATE
If it were my family and I ever thought they needed protection, the Level III+PA plate is the one that I would buy. This is the lightest, thinnest, and most versatile Level III on the planet and it’s NIJ-Listed to support our claim. At only 2.7 lbs and only 0.7” thick per plate, this plate is not cumbersome for any adult or adolescent.
The massive protests around the country have included gunfire from rifles, pistols, and shotguns. Our Duritium® Level III+PA will protect you and your family from any pistol caliber and multiple hits from an AR-15 or Ak-47. We know it may sound extreme, but it’s always better to have something and never need it than need it and never have it. When it comes to family, there is no reason to be prepared.