The 2024 Preparedness Pie

A pie chart with three slices representing percentages of preparedness

(I considered New Year’s Resolutions for this Advisory. But Google says 23% of people quit their resolutions by the end of the first week of January, and 43% quit by the end of the month. So I decided to go with an end-of-the-year assessment. I’m using a couple of questions from the very first book in our mini-series. I’ve also added some findings from FEMA’s 2023 Annual National Household Survey on Disaster Preparedness, just out. It may be a mish-mash, but here goes . . .!)

Christmas is fading fast. New Year’s is galloping right at us. So little time left to consider just how well we did on being prepared in 2023, and see what plans we want to make for 2024!

“Do I fit into the orange slice of the preparedness pie, or the blue? Or maybe the gray? Which slice is which, anyway?!” By the end of this Advisory, you will know!

Question #1: Do you feel that you are prepared for an emergency?

Question #2: What threats should you be preparing for in YOUR community?

Personal example: Joe and I have lived in both northern and southern California, so “the big one” has been on our list of threats forever. (I am getting older so “forever” has taken on a new definition . . .!) We feel pretty confident about our earthquake preparedness, but every year we add just one more piece of equipment — this year, two more emergency lanterns — and we learn more about earthquake response, too. This year’s focus was on after-the-quake inspection and clean-up.

As prepared as we think we are, this year I have had to add a brand new threat to my list. When I filled in our address on California’s Office of Energy Services Hazards map, I discovered that we live right on the edge of a liquefaction zone! Who knew? (Watch for more on this in 2024 as I get up to speed.)

OK, so you have a list just like we do. But probably all our lists need updating!

2023 was an historical year when it comes to emergencies and crises. Check out these potential additions to your list.

  • Weather events are the easiest to identify. Anything new for your part of the country? In 2023 we got our very first hurricane in California. Just yesterday I watched a video of 25 foot monster waves that put 8 unsuspecting beach goers into the hospital! Jot down the 3 or 4 weather events most likely for your neighborhood, and include any new threats.
  • Any engineering or infrastructure threats, such as out-of-date bridges or dangerous train tracks, maybe frequent power outages? (Did you read how Texas courts have said that Texas power plants have no responsibility to provide electricity in emergencies?) In our senior community, an extended power outage turns so quickly into an emergency!
  • How about economic threats – from crop failure to interest rate fluctuations to labor strikes? And don’t forget to add cyber threats to your list if it’s not there already. We’re not just talking threats to big business. Even home-based networks are being hacked.

Any of our “Smart devices” could be hacked: smart security camera, a printer, smart TVs, our home heater – just about anything that is managed by a smart phone. Find out here what the hackers are looking for. And everyone with an email account has surely noticed the rise in scams! AI tools such as ChatGPT are generating a mammoth increase in malicious phishing emails, almost impossible to distinguish.

  • Political unrest – Maybe this hasn’t been on your list before, but it’s certainly possible – indeed, likely – as we head into 2024. How to prepare? Start by paying attention to what’s going on around you. Get off your phone in public! Take sensible security precautions – like locking your home and car. Follow the news. Don’t inadvertently find yourself in locations popular with trouble-makers.

A phone story. While it wasn’t related to politics, it does have to do with paying attention! This year was the first time I have actually yelled at a parent. School had just let out, a crowd of kids was growing across the busy street waiting for my signal to start crossing. Suddenly a parent, intent on her phone call, walked through the kids and directly onto the crosswalk without a pause. Of course, the kids started following her just like the Pied Piper! Furious, I ran toward her, into the traffic, yelling “Get off the phone!’ (I managed to suppress the adjective you might have expected in there.) She looked up, still intent on the call, smiled tentatively . . . and KEPT RIGHT ON WALKING toward me with the kids dutifully following! Thank goodness for the drivers who were paying attention to what was going on!

  • Climate-related disasters have overwhelmed the news – and the insurance industry – in 2023. Wildfires, fire and heat-related air quality, sea level rise– these have exploded into the news because of their massive financial impacts. Let’s hope you aren’t likely to be in the path of any of them. But even if you dodge them, your business could change. Your insurance rates may change. Plan to confirm coverages.

Whew, that’s already a lot. But wait. We can’t stop yet, because here’s the next important question about YOU!

Question #3: Have family circumstances changed that could result in an unplanned-for-emergency in 2024?

For example, have you added a new baby since you last made your list? Or maybe a pet? Perhaps a family member has been injured or is suffering from sickness or the results of an accident. Your emergency plans for 2024 may have to include extra care or new preparation for . . .

  • Special foods or diet requirements
  • A supply of new or different prescription medicines
  • Special furniture or medical devices (and their power source)
  • Plans for help or extra care if you have to evacuate

Over the past year we have updated a number of our Advisories covering planning for these personal needs. The good news: prescription drugs seem to be easier to collect these days, or to find in emergencies. Utilities are offering back-up power supplies to some customers with medical devices (mostly low-income). But when it comes to evacuation, neighbors continue to be the best source of help. How can you build stronger friendships among YOUR neighbors in 2024? Keep reading!

Remember that the orange slice of the chart represents you – and the people who say they are prepared? Now let’s move on to the blue slicethe 38% of people who “intend to prepare for emergencies.”

Question #4: Blue or orange, what action steps can you take to kick-start or fine-tune your preparations?

I really like this chart of preparedness actions from the 2023 FEMA survey. How many have you already taken? Which actions are on your to-do list in 2024?

Chart of 12 Preparedness Actions coming from the 2024 FEMA Survey, showing changes from 2022 to 2023

Notice, in particular, how many more people assembled supplies (upper left). Yes! But note the “community oriented actions” at the lower right. They are woefully missing for so many, orange or blue!

Need ideas for getting involved with neighbors? At Emergency Plan Guide we “specialize” in community involvement. On our website, click on “Neighborhood groups” in the Advisory Categories section of the sidebar. You can connect with over 200 mostly real-life stories on that topic!

OK, to wrap everything up. Did you get some ideas? Have more questions?

As we have discovered, and as you may have discovered by now, “emergency preparedness” is a lifestyle, and not a “thing.” Once you’re into it, it gets easier to make the slight adjustments required to keep prepared. I trust that you were reminded today of one or two “adjustments” for 2024 that make sense for you.

And if you’ve read this far, you should have at least one more question: “What’s the gray 3rd slice of the pie represent?”

Glad you asked! That’s the 14% of people who “have not prepared and have no intention of preparing.” I don’t expect any of them to be reading this, but of course — you could share!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. Let us know in the comments of any “new” threats you’re putting on your list for 2024. Or threats you aren’t sure whether or not to add. Other readers will be interested!

P.P.S.  I mentioned that a couple of these questions originally came from our mini-book, Pre-Disaster Plan. Its 39 pages introduce 14 basic preparedness questions, along with answers based on our experience and common sense. If you’re a fan of question/answer style reading, grab a copy for yourself for a more complete assessment of where you stand. Click here for more details.

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