Over the past year or so, as I’ve observed the news and watched various national and world events unfold, one thing that has been driven home to me time and time again is the need to be prepared in the event of a disaster; be it natural or man-made.

Not only do we live in a fallen and unstable world in general, but in our time of prolonged economic downturn, scarcity of resources, and high threat levels of terrorism and violent crime, it almost behooves us to educate ourselves on what to do in the case of a major catastrophic event.

Such an event nearly took place in the southwestern United States very recently, as millions of people, including us; we live just north of San Diego, Calif., were left without power for over 12 hours. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that my household was caught completely off guard, last night’s blackout definitely revealed some glaring weaknesses in our resolve to be prepared for adverse circumstances. And it’s my desire to share with you these important lessons learned.

First of all, let me go over what we did RIGHT. For one thing, my wife’s love for scented candles played a HUGE role in ensuring that we didn’t spend the duration of the blackout in pitch darkness. In all, we lit about five candles and spent a relatively pleasant evening eating dinner and playing board games by candlelight.

Yeah, I can already hear my female readers: “Awwwwww!”

All joking aside, though, we were not lacking in back-up illumination. The candles as well as two flashlights, a battery-operated camping lantern, and plenty of batteries ensured that.

We were also prepared on the food front. First off, ours is a gas stove, so my wife was able to light the burners and cook a nice dinner for us. However, even if that had failed us, we had plenty of canned goods (which I had been stockpiling for some time) in our pantry, as well as plenty of water. So on the nutrition front, we were good to go, too.

Defense. Three guns, a Remington 870 12-gauge pump action, my trusty Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum, and my wife’s Taurus .22 revolver, ensured that we were prepared in the event that, God forbid, our home was descended upon by robbers, looters, etc. Home defense preparation is a MUST during an adverse event.

Entertainment. Sounds trivial, but depending on your situation (i.e. – you have young children) this could end up being pretty signficant. My wife and I don’t have children (yet), so it was pretty simple for us. I’ve already mentioned the board games. However, if your entertainment “needs” are more substantial and especially if you think they will involve electricity, strongly consider getting a generator and some fuel containers. A good generator will allow you to keep at least three or four electronic devices running at a time, which could end up doing wonders for you in terms of keeping the kids, and you) from going crazy.

And I guess that’s our first “improvement objective,” if you will; get a generator. Entertainment aside, if we could have kept our refrigerator and microwave hooked up last night, it would have been an even less trying ordeal than it turned out to be.

We also need to get a battery-operated radio. I’m not a technology expert and am therefore still unclear as to how this happened, but neither my wife nor I could get reliable cell phone service last night following the blackout. Nor could we access the internet from our phones either. A reliable CB radio, hand-crank radio, or other similar independently-powered device for keeping track of what’s going on around you is vital to staying safe and knowing when to (possibly) leave the area.

Which leads to my next point. Have a “bug-out plan.” That is, know when it’s time to evacuate and have a plan for doing so. And by that, I don’t mean wait for the local news anchor to expressly TELL YOU that it’s time to leave the area. Pay attention, have good situation awareness, and make the call for you and your family. And have a plan. Make sure you have plenty of supplies (gasoline, snacks, protection, basic auto maintenance supplies, etc.) and be ready. We weren’t ready this time, and I intend to not repeat this mistake again.

Finally, get creative. And I’m thankful to say that this is another area in which we WERE prepared. And I’ll give you two examples.

One, since we didn’t have power, we obviously couldn’t open the door to our one-car garage electronically. We could however, do it manually. The downside to this is that any looter or thief with half a brain (usually that’s ALL they have) and one arm could easily lift my door from the outside, let themselves into my garage, and steal whatever they want (including my wife’s car).

I, however, found a way to prevent that (as best I could). With two long pieces of rope, I was able to secure the door to the metal tracking frame (by which the door opens) and essentially “tie it down.” In other words, I looped the rope through a metal attachment on the top of the door and tied it to the frame, which was attached to the ground and the ceiling. My wife and I both tried (together) to raise that door, and it wasn’t happening, thanks to the sturdy rope and metal in our garage. Little things like this can go a long way in securing your possessions and helping you be prepared for the worst, following an adverse event.

Secondly, our neighbors in the town-home next door to us have an electronic lock on their front door (big mistake!!!) and were therefore locked out of their home. Worse still, their two large dogs were trapped inside. Their only hope for getting into the house and retrieving their dogs was through a partially-opened sliding glass door on the upstairs balcony (which faces the parking lot, btw).

We asked around, seeing if anyone had a tall ladder that we could use to access the balcony from the street, but no one did. Finally, I suggested that we use my Nissan Xterra as a ladder. In other words, I would park it directly underneath the balcony and my neighbor would climb on top, reach up, grab the railing, and climb onto the balcony, after which he would let himself in through the door, manually unlock the door from the inside, and bring the dogs out. Dangerous as heck, I know, but it was our only option.

Long story short, we were successful. Once again, the point is to be creative and look for ways to help yourself (and others) in the event that you’re not fully prepared for EVERY detail. Let’s face it: there’s no way to plan for every contingency. Life’s full of unexpected events, and improvisation in the face of these events is not only what made this country great, it’s also one thing that enables us as human beings to ultimately survive. So PREPARE TO IMPROVISE in an adverse event.

Finally, trust in God. Know that He is constantly looking after you and will never leave you nor allow you to go without what you ABSOLUTELY need. Therefore, make prayer and cultivation of trust in the Lord as much a part of your preparation as anything else.

I know this has been long, but I hope it’s been helpful. Like I said, these are really just some important lessons learned from my end following yesterday’s blackout. I hope they serve you as well as I plan to let them serve me. Thanks for reading, stay prepared, and God bless!