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Emergency Preparedness – 9 Tips to be Ready

by | Jan 28, 2020 | Thrive

What do you think of when you hear emergency preparedness? Do you think of an earthquake, a power outage or maybe a simple DIY kit or checklist? Follow our tips and tricks to be ready when the time comes.

Person pushing a shopping cart up to the checkout line at a grocery store.

Oftentimes when people think of being prepared they check off the three B’s: Beans, bullets, and bandaids. They figure if they have these three things they’ll be ready for anything.

This approach isn’t quite for us. We want to be intentional about how prepared we are because there are so many different reasons you and your family members should prepare for emergencies. 

What if you got a message from someone that said, “Hey, they’re turning our power off for the next 5 to 7 days and I just went to the bank so we’d have some cash on hand, ATMs are down, can’t find any generators and we’re watching food and water go off the shelves at the stores”. Where would you think that was taking place?

Usually, our first instinct is to think of a third-world country dealing with a natural disaster, but this actually recently happened in California. Emergencies aren’t always due to hurricanes and floods.  

The recent power grid outages and fires in California are a good reminder of the fragility of our systems. Our electrical grid in this country is worn down and old, it hasn’t been kept up or replaced, so it can easily fail us. 

Here is a basic emergency plan to have on hand so you’re prepared and ready to easily get through your emergency management. This fact sheet and these safety tips are not extensive by any means, but it’s a start.

No matter if you’re on 40 acres in the wilderness of Idaho like us, or if you’re living in the city, these basics will work.

#1 – Shelter

You must be prepared from the elements. If you’re watching this video, I imagine you all already have a home that will work as shelter in times of emergency. But perhaps consider where you might go if you have to evacuate your home for whatever reason (say a fire, hurricane or flooding).

#2 – Water

Most people don’t realize how fragile their water system is. Do you have an abundant water supply on your property? If electricity goes down, your water will eventually go out as well, too. 

Consider the options available to you, whether it’s bottled water, barreled water, water collection systems on your own property or something else. 

Look at your situation and figure out a plan that will work for the number of people in your household. I don’t think a few days or a week is enough water, I’d recommend having a water supply for at least a month. 

This also leads to having a plan to ration it! Figure out how much water each member of your family will need to drink each day, then also factor in how much water you’ll need to cook and clean.

Don’t forget your pets in this scenario either! They count as members of the family when it comes to being prepared.

#3 – Food

You still need to eat in an emergency. Having a proper food storage system is good whether you’re expecting an emergency or not. And I’m not just talking about having a few MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) on hand, or some freeze-dried or dehydrated food. You’ll want to have the highest quality food you can get. 

For this reason, we encourage you to grow and preserve your own food, so you know where it came from, how fresh it was when it was put up, and the supply or amount you have on hand. You don’t want to be stressing over getting food from the grocery store after it’s already started flying off the shelves. 

We also recommend having a variety of food on the shelves. You’ll want dried beans and grains, preserved fruit and vegetables and canned meat. Don’t rely on the freezer for all your preserving. If your emergency has to do with a power outage, how long will that food in the freezer last?

The great part about canned food is you can just pop off the lid and eat it without the need to cook it first. 

#4 – Heat Source

Depending on where you live, this may not be a priority (for those of you in the south, for example), but up here in the far north of Idaho, heat is very important. 

Though heat for your home/shelter may not be important, I think we can all agree that having a heat source for heating/cooking food or boiling water is very important.

We have a Camp Chef that we use for canning in the summer, as well as for camping. It’s a great backup with a couple of propane tanks for cooking food, too. We have also recently installed a wood-burning cookstove in our kitchen and our house can be heated with wood heat. 

#5 – Fuel sources

Wood, propane, butane, gasoline, etc. What fuel sources do you need to keep your heat source up and working? If you’re solely on electrical power, I’d encourage you to source alternative methods to your water, heat, cooking, and power. 

We aim to have 6 months to a year’s supply of extra fuel sources, whether it’s wood, gasoline, propane, etc. 

#6 – Power

Power isn’t essential, but it can be important. You need water, you need fuel, you need to be able to boil water, etc. 

Most people who live in the city have electric for the majority of their power sources. The stove is electric, heating is electric, water-heater is electric, etc. I would really encourage you to start diversifying your sources. One of the best ways is an inline generator that’s hooked up to your house and when the power goes out, it kicks on. This may not be possible if you’re in the city, so be sure to check regulations.

You can also use smaller backup generators that can be powered in different ways. We’ve used multiple options over the years. In the past we’ve had one generator to keep our freezers running, one to keep the heater going, etc. 

Do what will work best for you and your situation. But have a plan in place because it’s not best to just keep it running all day long (it’s also expensive and the ability to replenish your fuel supply may not be there.). 

#7 – Basic medical supplies and knowledge

It’s good to have a basic understanding of first aid care. Have a good supply of first aid necessities and know the best way to use them in case of emergency. Whether this means one person in your family takes a class on basic first aid, or you do some research online, there are many resources out there so there’s no excuse. 

#8 – Alternative communication sources

Relying on your cell phone in a time of crisis isn’t the best option. It’s great to have backups like a walkie-talkie or HAM radios. One of the first lines of communication to get jammed up in an emergency are the phone lines. How will you get a hold of your loved ones?

#9 – Have cash on hand

You don’t want to rely on the bank or ATM after the emergency has begun. Banks may not be able to get you your money, or if the bank is closed and power is out, the ATM simply won’t work.

Keep a fair amount of cash on hand, in a safe place, to help you get through an emergency situation. If power is down you won’t be able to pay with a credit card, but many places will still honor cash.

More Preparedness Tips with Long-Term Food Storage

Head on over here for more tips on being prepared by building up your Long-Term Food Storage. We’ve shared our best tips on how we’ve built up our own food-storage over the years. 

You may also like this tutorial on how to can meat at home or this video on preserving eggs for winter.

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