6 Preparedness Tips To Prep Like A President
The president is a prepper!
Well, maybe not actually the president. But emergency preparedness is a serious business when it comes to the president. The Secret Service alone has 6500 people protecting our nation’s leaders. That’s a lot of resources focused on emergency preparedness.
And that got me thinking…
Why not put those same resources to work for us? By analyzing some of the pillars of presidential preparedness, maybe we can uncover some great tips.
Besides, this is fun stuff! Cars, planes, and high-tech gear make for some pretty interesting topics. To be clear, this is not a political article. The lessons here are the same regardless of which party is in the White House.
You and I may never be one of the most powerful leaders in the world. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a few things from the people who protect them. In this article, we’ll dig into some pretty cool presidential emergency preparedness and find useful ways to apply them in our own lives.
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"The FootBall" - Presidential Emergency Plan
You’ve probably heard of “The Football” in movies, television, or the news. The Football, officially called the President’s Emergency Satchel, is actually an aluminum briefcase covered in black leather. A military officer carries it by the side of the president at all times.
Smithsonian Magazine writes that, “Its primary purpose is to confirm the president’s identity, and it allows him to communicate with the National Military Command Center in the Pentagon, which monitors worldwide nuclear threats and can order an instant response.”
When you are the commander-in-chief, it’s important to plan and react as soon as possible. Thankfully, most of us will never have to decide whether to launch a nuclear war! So, what can this teach us about our own preparedness?
The lesson for us is the importance of having a written emergency plan. A household’s emergency plan is an outline of responses to different emergencies. A good plan will include options for shelter, evacuation, and communication. The best plans also include a list of responsibilities, contacts, and emergency kit supplies.
Creating an emergency plan helps you:
"The Bunker" - Presidential Evacuation Plan
Did you know that there is a bunker underneath the White House? It lies deep below the East Wing and is called the Presidential Emergency Operations Center.
According to Interesting Engineering, it was originally built during World War II. During the cold war, it was modified to protect against a nuclear attack. And since then, it has been continuously updated.
Throughout the years, presidents and their families have been evacuated to this bunker several times. The average citizen doesn’t have access to a high-security bunker. So, is there anything here that we can implement in our emergency planning? Definitely!
The presidential bunker highlights the importance of having an evacuation plan. During a disaster, you may need to shelter or evacuate from your home. So, it’s a good idea for you and your family to prepare your plans ahead of time.
Sit down with your family and discuss what types of emergencies might require you to evacuate. Then, pick meeting places in your home, neighborhood, within your city, and outside your city. It’s also a good idea to find the closest mass care shelters in your area. Lastly, if you have pets, then you should research options for them too. That way, you will know exactly where to go when the time comes.
"The Beast" - Presidential Emergency Kit
Have you ever heard of “The Beast?” It’s the nickname for the president’s 2009 model armored limousine. “The Beast” is a massive vehicle based on the Cadillac STS but built more like a military-grade SUV.
According to TheDrive.com, “The Beast’s defense capabilities include top-level ballistic armoring, night vision/infrared driving systems, a sealed cabin with an independent air supply capable of enduring a nuclear-biological-chemical (NBC) attack, and even a supply of the President’s blood type. Other rumored features include infrared smoke-screen and oil slick deployment capability, as well as tear gas dispensers…”
The presidential limo is the centerpiece of an awe-inspiring motorcade that can include several dozen vehicles. Among these are vehicles for the security detail, electronic countermeasures, control & support, counter-assault team, intelligence, hazmat, communications, an ambulance, and a helicopter overwatch.
I saw a presidential motorcade in person once, and it’s truly an impressive sight. When you are the president, you need all that gear and support to keep you safe during an emergency. But, the average person’s needs are a lot more modest. So, what valuable insights can we make?
For us, the best way to protect ourselves in a disaster is by having a good quality home emergency kit. In fact, the government expects us to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. This means providing your own supplies for water, food, first-aid, shelter, hygiene, and security for at least 3 days.
In my experience, the best way to build an emergency kit is to start with a small number of essential quality items and then grow your supplies over time. This allows you to get good-quality items customized to your area and your family without getting too overwhelmed.
"Sit Room" - Presidential Communication Plan
I bet we’ve all seen Hollywood recreations of the White House Situation Room. President John F. Kennedy established it in the aftermath of the 1961 Cuban Bay of Pigs Invasion. President Kennedy wanted all intelligence to feed directly into the White House to have reliable and actionable information.
According to the White House archives, “The current ‘Sit Room’ is a 5,000-square-foot complex of rooms that is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week to monitor national and world intelligence information.”
The Situation Room was built to facilitate reliable and secure communication with generals and leaders around the world. This is vital for the president, but can we learn anything from it? Absolutely!
Good communication is important in any disaster–regardless of who you are. You and your family will likely be apart during a disaster. This is why a communication plan should be a part of everyone’s overall emergency preparedness. You can create your own communication plan very easily with the following steps:
- Confirm that all family members have everyone’s contact information on their mobile phones.
- Ensure everyone has at least one “in case of emergency” or “ICE” contact on their phone.
- Plan to use texts to communicate after a disaster. They may still work on overloaded wireless networks.
- Have everyone in your home set up an emergency group text.
- Appoint one member of your family as a primary point of contact.
- After an emergency, family members should reach out to the point person with their status. The point person can then share the information with everyone else.
- Select an out-of-town family member or close friend as a backup point of contact.
- Create a thorough contact list of all your family members.
- Discuss what information needs to be communicated during an emergency.
- For example, your location, who else is with you, and whether you are safe
- Expand your contact list to include important non-family phone numbers.
- Add phone numbers and account numbers for important services to your contact list.
"Air Force One" - Presidential Road Survival Kit
Air Force One is probably the most recognized symbol of presidential preparedness. Technically, any Air Force plane carrying the president uses the call sign “Air Force One.” However, most people think of the two specially customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft that serve the president.
According to the official website for the White House, “The onboard electronics are hardened to protect against an electromagnetic pulse, and Air Force One is equipped with advanced secure communications equipment, allowing the aircraft to function as a mobile command center in the event of an attack on the United States. Air Force One [also] includes a medical suite that can function as an operating room, and a doctor is permanently on board.”
You might be wondering how this could be useful to us. For the president, traveling around the world is part of the job. That’s why Air Force One is designed to be a “flying Oval Office.” You and I don’t have such grandiose daily travel. For most of us, our car is our base away from home. This is why a car emergency kit is so important.
A car emergency kit gives you the tools to handle repairs, breakdowns, and accidents. And it’s also your emergency kit away from home. For this reason, the best emergency car kits are designed to handle automobile issues, treat medical emergencies (especially trauma), and prepared for emergency and survival situations away from home. Furthermore, the best roadside emergency kits are also customized for your vehicle, location, and family needs while still being space efficient.
"Line of Succession" - Presidential Estate Plan
The U.S. Presidential Line of Succession is established in the U.S. Constitution and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. If the President dies, resigns, or leaves office for any reason, they will be replaced by the Vice President. If the Vice President is unable to serve, then the Speaker of the House of Representatives is next in line. After this comes the President pro tempore of the Senate. If necessary, the order continues through the cabinet officers in the order their posts were established.
Most of us probably learned this in school at some point. But have you ever thought about why it is so important?
Historically, a leadership void often resulted in war and chaos. The founding fathers wanted to avoid this pain. We can apply this same idea to our own lives with a little bit of estate planning. It’s never fun to dwell on our own mortality. However, preparing some basic documents ahead of time can protect you and your family.
The first step is to write a will that clearly states your wishes. Regardless of your assets, a will is always helpful because it simplifies the probate process. And, if you are a parent with minor children, then it’s vital that you legally name a guardian for your children.
If you already have some of these documents, remember to review and revise them as your life situation changes. Don’t forget to keep your beneficiary designations up to date on bank accounts, investment accounts, and life insurance. It’s also a good idea to store all your estate documents together and tell your family where to find them.
Let's Put These Lessons Into Practice
In this article, we’ve explored some of the interesting ways our country keeps our president prepared for emergencies. Looking at things from a different perspective, I think we found some handy tips to apply to our own planning. Personally, I really enjoyed researching this topic. I think it’s interesting how universal some of these emergency preparedness concepts end up being. I hope you enjoyed it too!
Now it’s time for each of us to put these lessons into practice. If you are interested in learning more about emergency plans, emergency kits, or financial preparedness, check out some of my other articles. If you think I missed anything on this topic, let me know in the comments below.