Time management is a term that is very popular in today’s fast-paced world of getting ahead. How many times have you heard, “There is just not enough time in a day”? Perhaps you have used it yourself. I know I have on more than one occasion.

In this article I will discuss how time management, or better yet, the proper use of time, can save your life. While many of my examples mention snow and blizzards, the actions described here apply to any severe occurrence that may happen, no matter when or where it happens.

“When I learn of a possible Big One, that is my cue to take action. I want to take advantage of the time I have to be proactive as opposed to reactive after it’s too late to do anything about it.”

In the big picture of survival we have no shortage of stuff. Our problem is taking the time to not only put that stuff together, but also learning how that stuff works.

Portable stoves, like this Solo Stove bio-fuel stove, will allow you to prepare food and process water even when the power is down. Part of your preparations should include ways to prepare meals. (Photo by Dana Benner)

All of that stuff is no good if it has never been taken out of the package since the day it was purchased. Make the time now to learn about your gear, because go-time is not the time to start reading the directions.

Emergency evacuations can be prepared for in advance – with multiple contingencies – to limit the amount of anxiety you face in an already-stressful situation. (Photo by Getty)

By far, the greatest threats to our survival, both long and short term, come from nature. It doesn’t matter where you live; every area is prone to some sort of adverse natural occurrence. I’m talking about hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards and the like. Over the years, I have experienced most of them and I can tell you none of them are pleasant, but they are all survivable. You just need to take the time to make sure you are prepared.

When I was growing up in New England some 50-odd years ago, weather predictions were pretty much hit or miss and seemed archaic compared to today’s methods. Predicting long-term weather events was sketchy at best. The only thing we knew was that it snowed in the winter, rained in the spring, got hot in the summer and was windy in the fall. We almost never knew when a severe blizzard was coming our way until it was almost upon us. That meant that we needed to stay prepared for almost anything all of the time. My parents used to say, “If you want to know what the weather is like just look out the window”. We have come a long way over the years.

Today, we have improved weather forecasting technology enough so that we usually get a week or more to prepare for large, dangerous weather events. (Photo by Getty)

Today, meteorologists can often predict severe weather a week or so out with reasonable accuracy, though storms can, and do, blow up anytime and anywhere all of the time. This ability to predict weather so far out is both good and bad. It’s good in the fact that we can use the time wisely and prepare, but bad because many people don’t heed the warnings and then do nothing until it is sometimes too late.

One Week Out

Here in the Northeast, we are prone to Nor’easters, which are storms that travel in a northeastern direction and are full of energy from the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. When the storms happen during the warmer months, they usually bring strong winds and rain, and in the winter it means snow, and lots of it. By itself, a Nor’easter, while it can be damaging, is not normally a major event. It is when a storm from the south connects with a storm moving in from the Midwest that we have an issue. In the winter, it is very common that a third element is mixed in, a cold front coming south out of Canada. When this happens, we will have a major problem, one that we need to be ready for.

I constantly watch the local news, The Weather Channel and listen to NOAA on the radio. When I learn of a possible Big One, that is my cue to take action. I want to take advantage of the time I have to be proactive, as opposed to reactive after it’s too late to do anything about it.

The author always keeps his Midland radios fully charged and ready to go. (Left to right: Base Camp, GXT and E-Ready) (Photo by Dana Benner)

My first order of business is to run down my list of supplies. While I always have a supply of food and water on hand, this is a good time to make note of what I am missing or low on and restock. I make sure that my generators fire up and are ready to go and have extra fuel. I make sure that there are plenty of batteries and that they have not expired.

Before the really rough weather moves in, the author makes sure his generator is ready to go, including having plenty of fresh fuel on hand. (Photo by Dana Benner)

“By far, the greatest threats to our survival, both long and short term, come from nature. It doesn’t matter where you live; every area is prone to some sort of adverse natural occurrence.”

This is also a good time to make sure that my first-aid kit is up to the job. If not, then I get what I need to make it so. Make sure that if you take medications that you have an ample supply. When these storms hit, it is a sure bet power will be lost and most places will be closed. A week ahead of a forecast storm is a long time and anything could change, but start the preparations now. When the storm arrives, there will be a mad dash to gas stations and stores. Don’t get caught up in that mess. It is a waste of valuable time.

Having a first-aid kit is a good idea no matter what the situation. (Photo by Getty)

Five Days Out

It’s five days out and nothing has changed except that the forecast is more likely to be accurate, you have less time to make preparations and supply and fuel shortages may be popping up. The storm, which is now three fronts joined together, promises to bring heavy, wet snow, cold temperatures and strong winds.

Time to Ramp Up Preparations

Trees are sure to come down, many taking power lines with them, adding to the dangers of the snow-covered streets. Now is the time to decide whether you are going to head to safer climes or you are going to hunker down and ride it out. If you are going to go, the next 24 hours are crucial. Without warning, the storm could speed up and reduce your five remaining days to something less. The last thing you want to do is to hit the road with thousands of others just ahead of or during the storm and get mixed up with the other people who waited until the last minute.

When the water is this close, it may be too late to get out. Pay attention to weather forecasts and use the time you have to prepare for this or bugout before it’s too late. (Photo by Getty)

If you are going, then you need to make a detailed plan, and you need to let others know where you are going and the route(s) you plan on using.

Pay attention to the signs before the time to use them is upon you. Taking them into consideration in advance is part of the smart use of your prep time. (Photo by Getty)

Pack all valuable paperwork (passports, insurance papers, licenses, birth certificates, etc.) into a watertight container and take them with you. Make sure that you have plenty of cash, as credit cards are no good if the power is out and that ATM will be down as well.

An example of some of the equipment you should have on hand. No way is it enough, but it is a good start. Use your time to build up the supplies you will need. (Photo by Getty)

Pack enough food and water to last you up to a week, as you never know what you will find elsewhere. If you are traveling with the family pet, be sure to bring enough food for them as well. Fill your gas tank and make sure your vehicle is properly equipped to handle the trip. Don’t rely solely upon GPS to get you where you are going. A good set of maps is in my truck at all times.

Three Days Out

You have decided to stay. Well then, you need to prepare for the worst. Power outages, deep snow, possible tree damage to your home all could be in store. You may be snowbound for many days and power could be out for weeks. Bear in mind that first responders will likely be stretched beyond their capacity as well, so help is probably not going to be just a phone call away.

While there is time, add to your supplies. It is much better to have too much than not enough. Secure as much food and water as you can for your animals as well.

These Lifesaver and Reliance water containers each hold 5 gallons of water ready to be transported. (Photo by Dana Benner)

Be prepared to fix any damage that may occur, at least with basic repairs. Hand tools must be available, especially if the power is out.

At the very least you should have a hand saw, hammer and multiple screwdrivers in both slotted and Phillips heads. Wood, screws, nails, cordage and a roll of duct tape should be handy to make hasty repairs.

If you are heading out, make sure your vehicle is ready to go before you need it. (Photo by Getty)

This is the time to confirm that your vehicles have full fuel tanks, as you never know what will happen. All electronics and battery backups should be charged while you have the opportunity, and they should be kept that way. Cell phones, laptops and portable radios may be the only ways to communicate with the outside. Have some good battery-, solar- or hand-powered radios that are capable of picking up the NOAA radio station.

I have a few Midland radios, both for emergency communication and for listening to the NOAA reports. These radios run on batteries, solar and can be cranked to generate power so I am all set with communications.

While there is still time, inspect your area. Make sure that the shelter for your livestock is sturdy and, if not, strengthen it.

Check the area for debris that can fly around and secure it. If it is winter and there is snow on your roof, remove it. If more is on its way, you don’t need a roof collapse to complicate matters.

Two Days Out

You’ve done all that you can. The skies are darkening and the wind is picking up. The storm is bearing down and could hit in full force at any time. All you can do now is monitor the weather reports, check your preps, make sure everyone understands the plan and ride it out.

One Day After

The worst of the storm is over, but you are not out of the woods yet. Power is out and could be for days. Without power, gas stations and stores will not be open and others who were unprepared may be getting anxious. You stored enough fuel to keep your generators running for a few more days, but unless you conserve, you’ll be cutting it close. Food and water are OK for now, but they too need to be conserved.

This is a common sight after a Nor’easter and, sadly, a sure sign that someone waited too late to make their move. (Photo by Getty)

“Pack enough food and water to last you up to a week, as you never know what you will find elsewhere. If you are traveling with the family pet, be sure to bring enough food for them as well.”

It’s time to inspect your property for damage and address any problems as soon as possible. Check to make sure your neighbors are OK. If they are compromised, take them in and pool whatever resources you may have.

Fallen trees are a common cause for power outages that can last several days or longer. Be prepared for the loss of electricity with backup options that will cover at least your basic needs for keeping crucial devices operational. (Photo by Getty)

It is hard to predict just how long it will be before things are back to normal. That said, keep the possibility of troublesome actions by your neighbors and others in mind, especially if the situation doesn’t improve soon, or if it worsens.


Time is finite and there never seems to be enough of it. In a survival situation, your proper management of the time you have can be crucial. You may have days, or maybe only a few hours of advance warning.

You’ve done all that you can but your flight was cancelled. Now, all you can do is to just sit it out and wait. (Photo by Getty)

Don’t be one of those people who wait until the last minute to prepare. Prepare while the going is good so you will be ready when things do go bad.

Basic Items

Whether your plan is to stay or go, there are some basic supplies you will need.


Bottled water is good, but there are other ways to store drinkable water. I like to use water containers sold by Reliance and Lifesaver. Both hold about 5 gallons of water and are made from food-grade plastic. Clean water may be an issue, so make sure you have enough stored to last at least a week. Filtration devices should be available in case you need to supplement your water supply with questionable water.


Avoid storing foods that need refrigeration. Freeze-dried foods like those made by Wild Zora, Mountain House and Honeyville are ideal for these situations. Canned cooked meats, tuna and prepared meals like stews and soups are easy to store, last a long time and are simple to prepare. Dried food like pasta and cereal are always good to have on hand. Methods for cooking and preparing food are also important to consider, so be sure your food reserves are compatible with your ability to make them ready to eat.


Your ability to know what is going on and communicate with others is very important. Cell phones are great as long as they work so keep them fully charged. I also have a few Midland radios: the E-Ready receiver that operates by crank, solar and battery; the Base Camp XT511 which operates as a transmitter/receiver, AM/FM and weather radio and runs on battery or by external power and GXT rechargeable GMRS/FRS two-way radios. All are capable of picking up the NOAA broadcasts and the last two are able to transmit.

First Aid

Accidents will happen, but medical help may not be readily available. You need to have a very good first-aid kit on hand and know how to use it. The Weekender First-Aid Kit sold by Orion Safety Products is a very good place to start.


Yes, traditional power may be out, but all is not lost. Generators are very popular but will operate only as long as you have fuel. I also have a few portable solar panels, which allow me to keep electronics charged.

Electronic Information Resources

More than likely you will have to rely upon your electronics to keep you in touch with the outside world. Monitor news sources and weather alerts with your radios and laptop. Here are a few sources to tap into:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

U.S. Weather Service

The Weather Channel


(888) 810-3212

+44 (0) 1206 580 999

Midland Radio
(816) 241-8500

Mountain House
(800) 547-0244

Orion Safety Products
(800) 637-7807

(800) 665-4403

Wild Zora
(970) 541-9672


Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the March, 2020 print issue of American Survival Guide.



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