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The Emergency Preparedness Test

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 30, 2021
The Emergency Preparedness Test

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In January 2011, I did a walk-around-the-house inventory to assess my state of my preparedness.  At the time, I was living offshore on San Juan Island in Washington State.  Terrorism was an escalating threat, the economy was in shambles, and I was living in earthquake country.  On that day, I officially became a prepper.

There has been no looking back.  I have made it my mission to educate myself and the world as I put into place long-term survival tactics to ensure both safety and comfort in the event a major incident or disaster. Eventually, I began using the term “disruptive event” to describe such events, be they acts of Mother Nature or man-made.

Survival Basics Preparedness Test | Backdoor Survival

Something I did annually during those early days was to take a Preparedness Test.  I had forgotten about it until recently but decided with my recent move, it was time to bring it to the forefront and take it again.

Are you interested in taking or re-taking the preparedness test? If so, keep reading.

The Preparedness Test

1.   Has your family rehearsed fire escape routes from your home?

2.   Does your family know what to do before, during, and after an earthquake or other emergency situation?

3.   Do you have heavy objects hanging over beds that can fall during an earthquake?

4.   Do you have access to an operational flashlight in every occupied bedroom?  (use of candles is not recommended unless you are sure there is no leaking gas)

5.   Do you keep shoes near your bed to protect your feet against broken glass?

6.    If a water line was ruptured during an earthquake, do you know how to shut off the main water line to your house?

7.   Can this water valve be turned off by hand without the use of a tool? Do you have a tool if one is needed?

8.    Do you know where the main gas shut-off valve to your house is located?

9.    If you smell gas, do you know how and would you be able to shut off this valve?

10.  Gas valves usually cannot be turned off by hand. Is there a tool near your valve?

11.  Would you be able to safely restart your furnace when gas is safely available?

12.  Do you have working smoke alarms in the proper places to warn you of fire?

13.  In case of a minor fire, do you have a fire extinguisher that you know how to use?

14.  Do you have duplicate keys and copies of important insurance and other papers stored outside your home?

15.  Do you have a functional emergency radio to receive emergency information?

16.  If your family had to evacuate your home, have you identified a meeting place?


17.  Would you have sufficient food?

18.  Would you have the means to cook food without gas and electricity?

19.  Would you have sufficient water for drinking, cooking, and sanitary needs?

20.  Do you have access to a 72 hour evacuation kit?

21. Would you be able to carry or transport these kits?

22. Have you established an out-of-state contact?

23. Do you have a first aid kit in your home and in each car?

24. Do you have work gloves and some tools for minor rescue and clean up?

25. Do you have emergency cash on hand? (During emergencies banks and ATMs are closed)

26. Without electricity and gas do you have a way to heat at least part of your house?

27. If you need medications, do you have a month’s supply on hand?

28. Do you have a plan for toilet facilities if there is an extended water shortage?

29. Do you have a supply of food, clothing, and fuel where appropriate: For 6 months? For a year?

How did you do?  I was personally surprised to find I had a few items pending which tells me that taking the test annually is important, regardless of your perceived state of preparedness.

The Walk-Around Inventory

What is a walk-around inventory?  In the simplest of terms, a walk-around inventory involves scoping out your home, garage, basement. and yard with an eye peeled to deficiencies that need to be corrected to ensure your safety in the event of a disruptive event.  Clipboard in hand, the inventory should include the good, the bad, and the in-between.

Here where I live, that primarily means a windstorm sandstorm, but in fact, it could mean anything that disrupts my normal way of life, including a pandemic, EMP, or nuclear event.

Coupled with the walk-around inventory should be a fresh look at the organization of your manuals, eBooks, and preparedness checklists which, over time, can become a big mess.

Credit Where Credit is Due

I was not clever enough to come up with this test on my own.  I found this great Preparedness Test buried in an LDS Preparedness Manual, which now appears to be offline.

The Final Word

No matter how prepared you think you are, it seems as though there is always something new to do.  Whether a new skill, some updated gear, or simply an update to your survival mindset, it is good to stay fresh and stay current.

Whether you are a seasoned prepper, a newbie, or just a concerned citizen, I encourage you to take the Preparedness Test to see just how ready, or not. you are for a major disruptive event.

Bargain Bin:  Regardless of the type of prepper you are, these seven items are universal and what I consider must-have’s.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultralight personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2 oz. making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.

Portable Solar Charger:  With so many important documents and eBooks stored on electronic devices, having the ability to recharge them when the grid is down is a personal priority.  I have reviewed many over the years and with each new unit, the form factor, efficiency, and the price gets better.  My current favorite is the Archeer 21W Foldable Solar Panel.

Portable Outdoor LED Camping Lantern – Collapsible:  I admit to owning a number of these collapsible lanterns. They use  30 different LEDS and are powered by AA batteries, including rechargeables.  Instead of a switch, you turn these lanterns on by extending the lantern from its collapsed condition.  There are many different brands available but I have not found much difference between them.  Shop by price.  light

Kershaw OSO Sweet Pocket Knife:  A decent pocket knife made it to the list.  We use ours almost daily and I cannot imagine getting by without a knife.

Paracord Planet Mil-Spec Commercial Grade 550lb Type III Nylon Paracord:  An ideal all-around utility cord in the field, paracord is tough and long lasting. It is made from 550-pound test nylon and features a seven strand core for maximum strength. Also, it is manufactured in the United States.  Note that some colors may be more expensive than others.  Need ideas? See 44 Really Cool Uses of Paracord for Survival.

Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel:  This “Scout” is the one I own. Using this basic pocket fire-starter, you can get a nice fire going under almost any conditions. This is a small, compact version and is my personal favorite.

iRonsnow Dynamo Emergency Solar Hand Crank Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio, LED Flashlight, Smart Phone Charger & Power Bank: This newly upgraded unit has it all in one portable package.  It can be also be powered four ways:  hand crank, integrated solar panel, Micro USB, or AAA batteries.This is a great value and in my opinion, works just as well as though costing double this amount.


Note:  This is an updated version of an article was originally posted in August 2011.

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15 Responses to “The Emergency Preparedness Test”

  1. I am just curious why the list does not address how to help others but stay safe while doing so? Isn’t there danger in only seeing to your own needs?

  2. It appears this is a re-hash of an article that is at least half a dozen years old. That’s ok sometimes we need re-reminded.
    While there are many good thoughts here there are always those “little things” that are annoying when we are inconvenienced. Prepping probably is better when the unexpected occasionally pops up.
    Living semi-rural and we are treated to “tests” of our preparations on an un-scheduled basis. Usually they come at some odd hour and power out “alert” takes form in smoke a detector chirping. It may seem a little odd but, I left a low performance battery in one of the dual powered detectors (we have plenty) when I discovered they chirp when the power is out.
    I’ve found quite a few tricks that do not appear in the usual list. Perhaps growing up in a small hardware store and learning to fix things others threw away had some value after all.
    When I went to college (many sets of tires in the past) my room mate once said, “You can fix damn near anything with practically nothing”.
    I took it as a compliment.

    • Also consider a solar oven, as long as we’re not in a nuclear winter scenario, you can get fuel free cooking done with a solar oven. I have one so I can save my fuel for cooking on overcast or rainy days.

  3. Thanks for reposting this. I took the test this morning and of the items that pertain to us – we are not on city utilities so some of these things are not necessary – I only saw one that was ‘iffy’ and will talk to my husband about it later today. We do need to update a few things however and add some to other areas to be certain we have plenty on hand. Right now I think we are at about 90 – 120 days and would love to be closer to the 6 month preparedness. No more room in the freezer and we are trying to get more freeze dried or home canned goods especially meats.
    Nice to have something to check your progress in prepping for disasters (natural or manmade).

  4. Wow…. nice list. Think I hit 98% check. Shoes by the bed..check. May not have time to throw my jeans on so I have an old flyfishing vest on a hook by the bed. It’s loaded with head lamp. flashlight, a couple tools, hand gun, extra ammo, flash drive with all important docs, keys to the cars. Both cars have go bags. Just need to throw in 3 EMR buckets, one vehicle carries 30 gals of water(small RV). We have practiced the 5 min. evac and the 15 min., that includes hooking the trailer up and loading it with prepostioned tubs that contain photos, more clothes, more food and water. Sure would rather bug in though. I really enjoy your website.

    • I really like the fly fishing vest hung in the bedroom filled with lots of bug out goodies. I am going to start putting that together today.

      I already have go bags and stuff ready. I need to put some shoes under my bed.

      I hope I can just stay put. I live in a very rural area on a few acres. You never know what can happen, so I will be ready, just in case.


    • Wow. I thought I had it all together, but you seem to be on top of everything. Good for you. I wish you were my neighbor…

  5. That’s a great list of questions. I don’t think many people have any idea how to turn off their gas in case of earthquake, etc. I probably need to review how to shut off the propane tank to the house… Probably just close the valve on top of the tank? I might not have thought of it immediately though. Good to think things through when you aren’t rushed or reacting to danger.

    And keeping shoes near the bed makes sense. Besides the broken glass issue, you may need to evacuate a burning house. You won’t want to take time to dig through the dark closet for a left and a right shoe when you need to get your kids out.

    Very good topic!

  6. Are you on city sewer, then? I like septic systems because they aren’t dependent on anyone or anything off my property. Of course, I realize that you can’t just put in a drain field everywhere. Sometimes there isn’t sufficient room , sometimes you have surface water nearby that could be contaminated, and then there’s the almighty perk test. I guess no matter how hard a person tries, you are always going to be interconnected with outside infrastructure somehow.

    • More of a community sewer system than a city. My cottage is in a PUD and all of the infrastructure was provided by the developer. I love my little homestead but so wish I had more land than this postage stamp. I still have dreams of a secondary property for use as a communal farm. Of course we would also need a caretaker/watchman to guard our crops and chickens.

      — Gaye

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