What does the word preparedness mean to you? I believe there are as many ideas on preparedness as there are people. Merriam-Webster defined preparedness as “the fact of being ready for something; the state of being prepared.”
Wikepedia described preparedness as referring “to a very concrete research based set of actions that are taken as precautionary measures in the face of potential disasters. These actions can include both physical preparations (such as emergency supplies depots, adapting buildings to survive earthquakes and so on) and trainings for emergency action. Preparedness is an important quality in achieving goals and in avoiding and mitigating negative outcomes. There are different types of preparedness (i.e., Snow Preparedness Teams – SPT), but probably the most developed type is ‘Disaster Preparedness’, defined by the UN as involving ‘forecasting and taking precautionary measures prior to an imminent threat when advance warnings are possible’. This includes not only natural disasters, but all kinds of severe damage caused in a relatively short period, including warfare. Preparedness is a major phase of emergency management, and is particularly valued in areas of competition such as sport and military science.
“Methods of preparation include research, estimation, planning, resourcing, education, education, practicing and rehearsing.”
President Thomas S. Monson counseled members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt. Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had a supply of food and clothing and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have a supply of debt and are food-free….
“Are we prepared for the emergencies in our lives? Are our skills perfected? Do we live providently? Do we have our reserve supply on hand? Are we obedient to the commandments of God? Are we responsive to the teachings of prophets? Are we prepared to give of our substance to the poor, the needy? Are we square with the Lord?
“We live in turbulent times. Often the future is unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties. When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.”
To me, preparedness means the practice of being prepared for whatever may happen. When I think of preparedness, I think of preparing for bad days, such as saving for a “rainy day” or having some extra food in the house.
I recently had an opportunity to take advantage of practicing preparedness. Some cousins came to spend the night with us, arriving about midnight and planning to catch a bus to Whittier at 1:00 the next afternoon. We planned to eat breakfast at Village Inn in order to have more time for all of us to visit together.
Before we could leave the house we learned that our guests needed to check in for their cruise at 11:00 instead of 1:00; I realized that we had no time to go out to eat. I immediately inventoried what I could serve our guests. I had enough eggs for scrambled eggs. I also had some pancake mix to make some pancakes. I had a choice between ham and sausage. I had fruit and fruit juice. It turned out to be a wonderful breakfast and was put together within just a few minutes.
We used the extra time to show our guests some of the sights in Anchorage. We showed them the Anchorage Alaska Temple, the large chocolate (water) fall at the Wild Berry store. We drove around Lake Hood and showed them our airplane. We showed them Earthquake Park and how Cook Inlet wraps three-quarters of the way around Anchorage. We even had some time for them to do some souvenir shopping. The fact that I was prepared to serve breakfast unexpectedly made our day so much nicer than it might have been if we had tried to eat out.
Prophets have counseled members of the Church to practice preparedness since our pioneer ancestors crossed the plains to the Salt Lake Valley. Brigham Young (1801-77): “If you are without bread, how much wisdom can you boast and of what real utility are your talents, if you cannot procure for yourselves and save against a day of scarcity those substances designed to sustain your natural lives?” (Deseret News, July 18, 1860, 153).
Wilford Woodruff (1807-98): “We feel led to caution the Latter-day Saints against forming the bad habit of incurring debt and taking upon themselves obligations which frequently burden them heavier than they can bear, and lead to the loss of their homes and other possessions. … Our business should be done, as much as possible, on the principle of paying for that which we purchase, and our needs should be brought within the limit of our resources” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff , 232-33).
George Albert Smith (1870-1951): “How on the face of the earth could a man enjoy his religion when he had been told by the Lord how to prepare for a day of famine, when instead of doing so he had fooled away that which would have sustained him and his family” (Deseret News, Mar. 4, 1868, 26).
Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972): “[The pioneers] were taught by their leaders to produce, as far as possible, all that they consumed, and to be frugal and not wasteful of their substance. This is still excellent counsel” (“The Pioneer Spirit,” Improvement Era, July 1970, 3).
Harold B. Lee (1899-1973): “We expect the individual to do all he can to help himself, whether it be an emergency for a single family or for a whole community, that the relatives will do all they can to help, then the Church steps in with commodities from the storehouse, with fast offerings to meet their needs that commodities from the storehouse will not supply, and finally, the Relief Society and the priesthood quorums will assist with rehabilitation” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee , 171).
Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985): “We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees – plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard. Even those residing in apartments or condominiums can generally grow a little food in pots and planters. … Make your garden as neat and attractive as well as productive. If there are children in your home, involve them in the process with assigned responsibilities” (“Family Preparedness,” Ensign, May 1976, 124).
Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994): “The revelation to store food may be as essential to our temporal salvation today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah” (“Prepare Ye,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 69).
Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008): “The best place to have some food set aside is within our homes, together with a little money in savings. The best welfare program is our own welfare program. Five or six cans of wheat in the home are better than a bushel in the welfare granary. …
“We can begin with a one week’s food supply and gradually build it to a month, and then to three months. I am speaking now of food to cover basic needs” (“To Men of the Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 58).
We are encouraged by Church and civic leaders to have food in our homes. We should begin with obtaining food we can immediately access – food that does not need cooking or refrigeration – enough to last from three days to a week. We should then obtain more food as quickly as possible, enough to last for at least a year – and do so without going in debt for it. We should also obtain enough clothes to last a year and also fuel if at all possible. The goal is to be prepared to remain independent of other people, the Church, and the government.