I am often criticized for my devotion to emergency preparedness and normally don’t talk about it to anyone. On the chance that I do mention emergency preparedness to someone they envision that I am preparing for some global, end of the world zombie apocolypse scene straight out of a dystopian novel. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Before I had children the idea of emergency preparedness never even crossed my mind.
I never had more than one or two days worth of food on hand and never kept water around. I had no idea how to change a tire or put oil in a car. If something happened I always relied on other people to get me out of the situation.
Once I had kids I realized that relying on others to help me when I couldn’t help myself was a bad idea. To our kids, we are that “other person” they rely on for safety and sustenance.
How would you feel if you couldn’t provide basic necessities for your children?
Helpless and out of control.
I don’t like feeling helpless and out of control when it comes to the care of our children. That is why I started prepping. If something bad were to happened we would be able to stay afloat. It helps me to feel a little more secure in times of uncertainty.
When I first started prepping I was so overwhelmed by all the information out there. Much of the information revolved around prepping for a long-term crisis, like an EMP that would knock out power indefinetly.
Some of the scenarios I have come across are a little far fetched, yeah they could happen and we wouldn’t know it was coming, so prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I get it, we want to be prepared for anything and everything.
But when you are just getting started it is really hard to see that end goal or even decide where to start. If you are prepping for that anything and everything scenario without a well laid plan it is easy to spend tons of money on lots of little preps and still not be able to take care of your family.
What I mean by that is yes you have a fire starter but do you know how to use it and have (or know where to find) kindling? You may have tons of dehydrated food, but not enough water to drink and rehydrate your food with. You might have toilet paper but no way to clean your hands or flush a toilet. See what I mean?
How I decided where to start.
Instead of prepping for everything under the sun, I decided to prepare to survive specific crises that were most likely to happen. I narrowed all the possible crisis scenarios down to the ones that were the most real threats to my family.
My top 3 threats that I wanted to prepare for were:
- large storms
- being stranded somewhere if the car breaks down
- job loss/financial crisis
3 Day Supply
After I narrowed the scope of my focus I started with the basic recommendation of storing 3 days food, 3 days water and 3 days hygiene products for the 5 of us.
When choosing what food to store I opted for mostly ready-to-eat shelf stable products that I know my family will eat without complaint such as:
- granola bars
- canned soups (not condensed)
- canned fruit in juice
- peanut butter
- mixed nuts
- juice boxes (for a morale booster)
Don’t forget to include a small, thin camping pot and an inexpensive sterno stove kit to heat the soup with.
When it came to storing water I stored a gallon per person, per day which for us is 15 gallons for 3 days. This is enough to drink and to use for sanitation.
Water can be stored in a variety of ways although, the easiest is to go buy sealed gallons of water at the store. The average price of a gallon of water is $1.20, I was able to fulfill this requirement for less than 20 dollars!
Deciding what to put in your 3 day hygiene kit will vary for each family. Some of the hygiene items I store are:
- hand sanitizer
- toilet paper
- baby wipes
- small bottle dish soap
- feminine products
- trash bags
- paper towels for cleaning
- small bottle bleach
- empty spray bottle
- first aid kit
If you have babies in diapers keep stuff on hand for that. If you have people on daily medication try to refill early. A good rule of thumb for life saving medication is to keep a 90 day supply if possible.
I think of this as the “lights out” category. Some of the things I stored in case of no electricity:
- hand crank radio
- hand crank flashlights
- battery operated flashlights
- matches and long neck lighters
A lot of these supplies have expiration dates so be mindful of that when storing items. I like to make an inventory list with expiration dates and tape it to the box I have things stored in. About a month or two before something expires I will restock it with a fresh item and use up the one I had in storage so nothing goes to waste.
After I got my 3 day supplies gathered I put together a go-bag for the car. We have older cars and I always worry that we will break down somewhere. Since I don’t travel far very often and when we do go somewhere we are still in a big city, I keep this one pretty simple.
What I put in our go bag is a 20 ounce bottle of water for each person, some granola bars, mixed nuts and baby wipes. I just wanted to have something to hold us over while we wait for help, or while we change a tire or something. If we do travel I make a more elaborate kit to take with us. But for everyday trips around town I don’t feel like I need a full 3 day bug out bag.
I take our go-bag on every car ride and bring it in when we come home. It isn’t recommended to store water bottles in a hot car and in the winter they might freeze.
In the trunk of each car we keep a jump kit, emergency blankets, a gallon of water (for the radiator), oil, a full size spare, a jack, crowbar and few tools.
Finally after we got the those items all gathered we started working on being financially prepared. I am not going to go into too much detail here because this is such an in depth topic, it really deserves it’s own post. There is much more to being financially prepared than just having a little money set aside, but that money is a great start!
About 5 years ago I started prepping and we have been through each of these scenarios at least once since then.
A little over week ago Blizzard 2016 blew through and I wasn’t running to the store to scramble for what food, water and batteries were left on the shelves. Not too long ago our watermain was busted and we were without water for 24 hours and then on “boil notice” for another 24 hours. We are still waiting for my husband to be able to go back to work and we are able to pay our bills while we wait.
I encourage everyone to look into emergency preparedness. Being prepared even on a small scale will give you a “peace of mind” you probably didn’t know you were missing!