I heard the following story the other day:
A couple was out with some friends and met a man who was missing part of his finger. When he was asked what had happened, his story went something like this:
When he was growing up, his family had a well on their farm that had a pump. The pump had two pieces of metal that moved when the pump was used, and each piece had a round hole. At a very precise moment, those two holes would line up, and he and his brother would wait for that moment so that they could quickly stick a finger all the way through both holes and then pull it out before the pump continued on its way. The brothers played this game, and one day the man telling the story miscalculated his timing, and his finger was snapped off.
When the people listening commented on how stupid a practice that was, the man replied, "You think that was stupid? My brother has lost three fingers!"
The story is almost funny (mostly only if you are not one of the people in the story) because of the shock value of someone continuing to do something dangerous and painful even after knowing firsthand of the consequences. Then I started thinking about this story in the context of emergency preparedness, and I thought of a couple of issues:
A) I never want to snap my finger off in a well pump. Pretty elementary, but true nonetheless. I don’t have to practice putting my finger in the holes or have one snapped off in order to learn from these boys’ experience.
The same holds true when it comes to being prepared. I know that I don’t want to go without water/food/other emergency supplies if I don’t have to. I know that it is better to have something on hand than to join a last-minute stampede for limited supplies at a grocery store. I know that I don’t want to have to depend on help from others that may or may not come in time, when I would have been in a lot better shape if I had only prepared ahead of time. It is true that sometimes you have no choice in the matter, depending on the situation. Unfortunately, in some emergencies you may lose your supplies altogether. But in many, many situations where you would find yourself in need of food storage or emergency supplies, you would be in a situation to use them if you had them in place. Learning from other peoples’ experience is a lot less painful than having to go through it yourself, and if you are prepared you may be able to help those who are suffering as well. Look at any disaster that has happened, and learn what helped people survive, and what they wish they would have had, and it could help you learn how to avoid problems that they had.
B) Failing to put aside any emergency supplies when you have the means to do so is pretty much like expecting those holes on the pump to always be lined up perfectly. Perhaps your job is secure. Perhaps you live in a hurricane/tornado/earthquake/other natural disaster-free zone. Perhaps you have a lot of money put aside that you could use to buy supplies.
Those holes might line up if there were never a trucking strike, and there was always food on the shelves. They might line up if your area is truly never hit with any kind of disaster, and there isn’t a run on the stores so that there are no supplies available, no matter how much money you are able to wave around. They might line up if there is no quarantine due to a pandemic, where no one would be allowed to go out and buy supplies of any kind from grocery store shelves that remain full but untouchable. They might line up if there is no illness or other personal emergency that empties out your bank account and keeps drawing on your paycheck, making it hard to afford even the most basic necessities. In other words, there are a lot of "ifs" to be covered for those holes to line up, and if you are caught without emergency supplies in an emergency situation, the consequences could be a lot more dire than snapping off a finger.
Gathering supplies when you are already in a tough situation financially can be difficult, and for those who find themselves in such a situation, I hope that things improve for you soon. If you can, add a can of food or bag of basics (flour, sugar, etc.) as often as possible, and if that truly is beyond your means, at least gather information while you save up. The library is full of information, as is the internet. Do what you can to prepare while you can---no one lives in a perfect world, and the chances of the holes always lining up so that you won’t ever need your emergency supplies are pretty slim.....
Special thanks to Another Prepper for a great post!