It’s a cold, windy day here in Colorado. As I sit here in my warm home, with the fire going, my mind is turning to all the events throughout the world where warmth, protection, and even food are not a guarantee. I’m a bit of a stocker, a trait learned from my mother in part and from her mother before her as well. We tend to stock up, plan ahead, and have what we would need in the case that we could not access stores or other luxuries. Friends joke that I am a prepper…but that’s not entirely true. We plan for things, yes, but not so much for the “end of the world” scenarios that preppers are known for.
Planning for preparedness isn’t hard. In fact, you probably have many of the tools in your home right now. But, in the case of a natural disaster, regional event, or even an illness…it will pay off. Here are the first steps to begin being prepared.
It is common in a natural weather or regional event (like a wildfire in the area, a situation we experienced) to lose power. You need to have a backup plan in place to keep your food in your fridge and freezer cold in a short term scenario. Now is the time to begin researching a way to do that.
For us, this is a gas powered generator, stored and maintained well in our garage, which can be pulled into action immediately to power a small portion of our home. This hooks in to the main power supply and takes over tasks that we have given priority. For us, that means it powers all food storage, plus a few lights and our heating abilities.
Generator purchasing is something you should do with a great deal of research. Start by looking online at all the specifications and requirements for each generator. You can purchase generators online, or at your local home improvement stores. This is a large purchase, starting at about $300.00 for a small generator, so know your stuff before you buy!
Make Family Member GO Bags
A GO bag for each family member is essential should you have to evacuate your home quickly. In some cases of evacuation, families have been given less than five minutes to gather what they can and get out. Having a GO bag in place makes this much easier, and much less panicked. In an emergency situation, panic is NOT your friend.
Each bag should contain items you will need to be away from home for a minimum of 72 hours. This should include clothing, medication, non-perishable food and water, information card with all information that person could need (everyone’s phone numbers plus insurance information is a great place to start). For younger family members, a cuddly toy and a fun activity to keep them busy can help. Try to keep it lightweight, but really pay attention to each family member’s needs.
Food in the Home
If you are a person who tends to run out of groceries in your cupboards, listen up! It is important to have extra meals in your home in case of an extended storm, illness, or other reason that you cannot get out to the grocery store. You need to have a good stock of snacks, drinks, and meals that do not require cooking to make in case you are limited by electricity outages. It’s time to start thinking about this now. What does your family need, and what will they actually eat, if you are stuck in your home for one week?
Water is an essential to human life…we simply cannot live without it. When power goes down, so do wells and pumps. Do you have a plan in place for having water to drink, cook with, and clean up with if you are without water service for several days?
Most emergency preparedness websites recommend one gallon of water, per person, per day. That is two quarts for drinking and two quarts for cooking and cleaning. It is also recommended to have 3 days of water available in your home, especially in earthquake prone areas.
There are many ways to store water, most of which are more extreme and we will go into in more depth later. For now, just bottles of water are fine. Remember, water doesn’t last forever on the shelf, so use and rotate your stock for best results.
Pets and Other Animals
Don’t forget the non-human members of your family. You will want to make sure you have food and water available for them as well. Begin the practice of buying a bit more than you need, stored in an air and bug tight container, for your animals. This just means a larger bag of dog food, a few extra bales of hay, or an extra tucked away container of that fish food. Don’t make it complicated or expensive at first, but start thinking about your plan.
Another thing to consider with your animals is what you will do if you are placed under mandatory evacuation in your area. How will you get them out? Where will you take them? This sounds simple, but can be difficult in times of crisis. Many people stay behind in dangerous situations because they have no plan for their animals. Make one now. Find out where evacuated animals may be taken in your area if there is a disaster. Find friends or relatives that can help. If you own livestock or large animals, make a plan for how you will haul them to a new location. Thinking ahead can save your animals lives.
Remember, Panic is NOT your friend. Don’t let getting prepared freak you out and make you scared. Getting prepared can empower you to take control in situations that feel out of control. Have you begun to think about what you will do in an emergency or disaster? What kind of plans have you made?