5 Lessons from the Original Disaster Prepper – Noah!

                Sometimes, it seems as if everyone is just waiting for the world to implode and civilization as we know it to come crashing to a halt. From the books that are popular, TV shows about apocalyptic end times with zombies abound and even the World Economic Forum predicting chaos as the number one risk facing the globe. There is even a TV series, Disaster Prepper, dedicated to those getting ready for the end to come.

                As it turns out, preparing for disaster is not as new as you might think. Throughout history, wise people have recognized some of the potential threats around them and taken steps to prepare, or better yet, avoid the danger. In the 50’s and 60’s, school children practiced hiding under desks during air raids for attacks that never came (thankfully). Homeowners even built backyard bomb shelters to keep safe.

                It doesn’t start there though. In the Old Testament, Joseph helped Egypt prepare for seven years of famine during the preceding bountiful years to ward off famine and starvation.

                But before bomb and fallout shelters, before Joseph, there was the ultimate disaster prepper – Noah! Noah, as you recall, not only had to prepare for disaster in regards to saving his family; he had to prepare to save the entire planet’s animal species, bringing enough food to last everyone and everything through the entire catastrophe.

                Even today, there are lessons that we can learn from Noah. Lessons that apply on both a personal level for those getting ready for tomorrow’s calamities and also for businesses developing emergency continuity plans.

  1. Start before there are clouds in the sky.
Noah did not wait for the first rain drops to start building the Ark. No one knows exactly how long it took to build the Ark, but there is no doubt that it was a great effort and took a long time to complete. Remember, there was no lumber store, no power tools and must have been a second job – after all he still needed to work, farm or ranch to maintain living during the construction. And once the Ark was built, he needed to supply it. If you are developing a business continuity plan, remember to do your thinking, planning and preparing ahead of time. And don’t forget to test the plan – Noah probably tested out his pine tar seals for water leakage before finishing the boat. A leak in your plan in the middle of a disaster would be catastrophic.

  1. Assess your needs and build your plans around them.
Noah had an advantage here. He was given his plans in detail by God and knew exactly what kind of disaster he was preparing for. For the rest of us, we need to do a hazard vulnerability assessment or HVA and develop broad plans for any of the potential emergencies that we might encounter. For the home disaster prepper, how much food will you need? Enough for four people, for example, for six months? How about special medicine needs – does a family member have diabetes and need insulin? Businesses also need to think about special concerns and be sure to address those in a continuity plan.
Wikimedia Commons - Brocken Inaglory

  1. Be leery of the masses at the start of the disaster.
If a disaster starts and you have the means to survive it, others will want it and may try to take it – by force. Sadly, keeping your plans to yourself may be one of the best security measures you could take. In Noah’s case, there is no mention of what surrounding people thought of his in-land boat-building. Certainly, they must have thought he was nuts and even business leaders trying to prepare their organizations for emergencies will come across the same mentality. But when the rain started, you can bet there was a different attitude and some must have thought of forcing their way onto Noah’s boat.

  1. Be patient and keep your sanity.
If you’ve ever driven past a feedlot, you probably remember the smell – not a pleasant memory. Imagine being confined on a boat full of animals. Not to mention the tight quarters with your extended family and the stress of rocking about on the waves, not knowing what was going on outside or what the future would hold. Do not overlook the necessity to have some form of entertainment or bring some pleasure into the disaster planning mode. Keep some books or board games on hand to take your mind off the zombie attack outside. For businesses, keep in mind the mental health of employees during a disaster, even small ones. A business that cannot close for a blizzard, such as hospital, still has to think of employee well-being. What if employees are worried about family or pets etc.? Do not overlook the human factor in continuity planning.

  1. Include a plan for returning to normal after the event.
Noah had doves with him on the Ark. To gauge when it was safe to leave the Ark, he sent out a dove, which returned. Later, he sent it out again and it came back with a branch, indicating that things were drying up and improving outside. Finally, it never came back and he knew then that it must be safe to leave. Be sure to plan for the return to normal operations. For organizations, is there a plan to operate from another location while the main site is repaired or restored? For home disaster planners, what is the exit strategy to begin rebuilding a normal life afterwards?

Follow Noah’s example to prepare yourself, your home or your business for any kind of emergency, whether it is global devastation, attack of the living dead or something more mundane and closer to home.

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