Friday, January 1, 2021

New Year, New Preps

Hopefully the new year finds you and yours in good health and good spirits (no small feat after the past year that we have had).  While my preps have kept us in good condition both physically and financially, there have been several system failures that I've never experienced as an American.  I've been to many countries where their postal system was a crap shoot and their social support programs were non-existent, but this past year has shown in glaring clarity how utterly unprepared several of our state and local systems were.  One would think "this is America, we will rise to the occasion" but as the past several months have shown, there are several sectors of America that were on the verge of collapsing under pressure.  Not very reassuring.

So in the interest of being even more prepared for whatever may happen, here are several areas that we should all be preparing for in the future:

  • The DMV.  Our state's Department of Motor Vehicles is a dumpster fire.  The entire DMV system was shut down for months on end and now people who need to renew a driver's license or register a new car are lucky if they can get an appointment several months out from the time they actually need this important service.  While there isn't much people can do to prep for interruptions to this sort of service, I made sure to get the Real ID qualification when I last renewed my license so future renewals can be done online.  Also, by simply checking the DMV website and following the rules (print out the extension letter on the DMV website and print out a copy of your future appointment), people will technically still be within the parameters of the law even if the vehicle they are driving isn't registered. 
  • The library.  Our library system has been shut down several times and for extended periods of time over the past several months.  Fortunately our library allows for borrowing e-books online.  Also, people who need reference books can order them new, find them in used books stores or thrift stores, or they can download free ebooks from several sources in digital form.  If you need medical or survival texts be sure to air gap them onto a tablet or computer.
  • Unemployment Department.  Like many states, our state's ability to provide unemployment to those who qualify for it has been lacking, to put it politely.  Tens of thousands of people in my state are still waiting for unemployment to come through and it has been nearly a year since they filed!  A lawsuit against the unemployment department has not really moved them to work any faster or more efficiently.  Lesson learned, that normal six to twelve month emergency fund may need to be doubled just to see a person through a long-term unemployment where the state and feds are of little to no use.
  • Postal service.  Due to political shenanigans, our normally very efficient postal service has slowed to a crawl in many cases.  While I do most everything online these days--from bill paying to communicating with people--there are still instances where I need postal service.  This will make me look at even more ways I can do things online just to avoid using the postal service, also, finding alternatives like UPS and FedEx bear looking into as well.
  • Medical care and medical advice.  I used to think the WHO and CDC were the be-all and end-all when it came to pandemic planning and infectious diseases.  As the current crisis has shown neither these or other public health agencies at the federal, state, or county level know what the hell they are doing sometimes.  It's quite disheartening.  Basic preps, like staying fit and healthy can go a long way towards keeping you out of the healthcare system, but it is even more important these days for people to do their own research on all things health-related (and no, stuff you hear on Facebook isn't research).  When the Surgeon General went on TV early in the pandemic to say masks were useless against the coronavirus I nearly fell off my chair.  Coronaviruses are droplet spread and yes, masks can provide a barrier against these droplets...this was the point I decided that the only person concerned about my health was me.  I do my own research and take my own health precautions regardless of what is trending in the media.
  • Do it now.  The phrase 'never put off to tomorrow what you can do today' was never more important than during these trying times.  If you are almost out of toilet paper, waiting until next week may leave you with only bare shelves in the stores.  If you are almost out of gas, some sort of media hysteria could leave gas stations empty tomorrow so fill up today and don't wait.  If a tooth has been bothering you, get it fixed now; you don't know when the next virus spike will close down all dental offices and elective healthcare procedures.  Ditto for grocery shopping, clothes and shoe shopping, and for the love of God can we get some ammo into the stores??  I haven't seen ammo in the stores for months and while I am well set with the stuff, I would like to be able to go to the range and knock off some rounds without wondering if I will ever get to replenish my stockpile.
The bottom line to this little rant is that each one of us should review how the past several months have gone, identify areas where we needed something and couldn't get it, and figure out how to prepare for similar situations in the future.  Our usually smooth and efficient supply chains haven't been so smooth and efficient lately and this can come as quite a shock to people who have never had this sort of experience in the US.  The systems we rely on have been thrown into disarray (police barely responding in some major cities...I'm looking at you Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco), and the infrastructure that has always been relatively sound not being so sound are not something many of us are used to dealing with but unfortunately this may become the new norm.  Prepare accordingly.

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