Members of the Church have been counseled for many years to be prepared for adversity. Preparation, both spiritual and temporal, can dispel fear (see D&C 38:30).
Elder L. Tom Perry taught, “The need for preparation is abundantly clear. The great blessing of being prepared gives us freedom from fear” (“If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,” Oct. 1995 general conference).
With the guidance of Church leaders, individuals and families should prepare to be self-reliant in times of personal and widespread tragedy.
The principle of preparation
As members of the Church, we know that it is our responsibility to provide for ourselves and our families both in good times and in bad. Part of fulfilling that obligation is making preparations now to face whatever challenges may come our way.
President Spencer W. Kimball taught that we must be “anxiously engaged in a positive program of preparation.” It is not enough to hope for the best; we must prepare for it.
He explained, “The Lord will not translate one’s good hopes and desires and intentions into works. Each of us must do that for himself” (The Miracle of Forgiveness , 8).
How does the Church prepare for emergencies?
The Church prepares for emergencies by establishing and maintaining an emergency response plan in each ward and stake.
Ward and Stake Emergency Plans
Wards and stakes should prepare for natural and man-made disasters that are likely to occur in their respective areas by creating an emergency plan. These plans are prepared under the direction of the bishop or stake president. They should be updated periodically.
Each plan should:
- Identify likely disasters.
- Gather critical information.
- Outline assignments and procedures.
- Identify emergency communication methods.
- Encourage member preparation.
Use the Stake and Ward Emergency Planning Guide worksheets at preparedness.lds.org in your planning efforts
How can I prepare for an emergency?
Church members are encouraged to make an emergency plan and update it regularly.
Elder L. Tom Perry instructed, “Start now to create a plan if you don’t already have one, or update your present plan. … The instability in the world today makes it imperative that we take heed of the counsel and prepare for the future” (“If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,” Oct. 1995 general conference).
As you make an emergency plan, consider each of these elements.
Avoid debt and live within your means
It is needful that we discipline ourselves by avoiding debt and living within our means. Doing so will put us in a better position to help ourselves and help others during times of personal or widespread crisis.
Debt should be avoided, “with the exception of buying a modest home or paying for education or other vital needs” (All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances). However, debt of any kind should be approached carefully.
Elder L. Tom Perry said, “Necessary debt should be incurred only after careful, thoughtful prayer and after obtaining the best possible advice” (“If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear”).
But it isn’t enough to simply avoid financial tragedy; we should take care to spend less than we earn.
“We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt” (All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances).
Elder N. Eldon Tanner described what happens when we allow ourselves to spend more than we earn:
“I have discovered that there is no way that you can ever earn more than you can spend. I am convinced that it is not the amount of money an individual earns that brings peace of mind as much as it is having control of his money. Money can be an obedient servant but a harsh taskmaster. Those who structured their standard of living to allow a little surplus, control their circumstances. Those who spend a little more than they earn are controlled by their circumstances” (“Constancy Amid Change,” Oct. 1979 general conference).
Living within our means allows us to maintain control of our circumstances. Falling into debt only leads to further hardship.
Gain an adequate education
In an ever-changing world, we must prepare for uncertainties. One way that we can do this is by first gaining an adequate education and then continuing to increase our knowledge and skill base as time and circumstance permit.
We have been counseled by the Lord to seek learning in a variety of topics by study and also by faith (see D&C 88:118). This training will prepare us to take care of our families and serve others.
“In our educational choices we should prepare to support ourselves and those who may become dependent upon us,” taught President Dallin H. Oaks. “It is necessary that we have marketable skills. Education is mandatory to personal security and well-being” (“Learning and Latter-day Saints,” Ensign, Apr. 2009).
However, our commitment to education cannot end once we’ve received a certificate or gotten a job. Elder L. Tom Perry stressed the importance of ongoing education, especially in regards to our vocations. He stated, “We can become antiquated in our professions if we do not stay up-to-date” (“If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear”).
It is vital that we stay abreast of current industry practices and continue building our skill set. Doing so will give us the best chance at gainful employment.
Keep a reserve of food and other supplies
Another way we can prepare for an emergency is by building up a store of needed supplies to help carry us through a crisis.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “We have built grain storage and storehouses and stocked them with the necessities of life in the event of a disaster.” But those goods cannot help us if we cannot reach them. He continued, “The best storehouse is the family storeroom” (“If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,” Oct. 2005 general conference). It’s the most accessible reserve in times of need and the best suited to our individual needs.
As you build and maintain your emergency supply, include the following items:
- Clothing and bedding
- Drinking water
- Financial reserves
- Important documents
- Longer-term supply of basic food items
- Medication and first aid supplies
- Three-month supply of food that is part of your normal diet
- Ways to communicate with family following a disaster
Obtain first aid training
Another way to prepare for an emergency is to receive first aid, CPR and AED training through a certified program.