Perhaps you’ve decided your family needs an emergency preparedness plan, but you’re a little overwhelmed at all there is to do. Maybe you’ve gone as far as to make a list of things to buy and how to store them, along with some information about surviving an emergency, but putting your plan into action seems a little daunting. For those who have a desire to get their families better prepared and aren’t quite sure where to start, here are some simple steps.
Lights, please! If you already have flashlights, be sure to store the right kind of batteries. LED flashlights and lanterns will last a lot longer than the traditional kind. If you want something totally self-sufficient, buy a few crank-powered lights as well. That way, if you do run out of batteries, you’ll have something to fall back on.
Food and water. When you go to the store, buy a few extra cans of tuna, fruit, or jars of peanut butter. When pasta goes on sale, buy 10 bags. Spending just a few extra dollars per week will buy you a significant amount of storable food within a few months. Once you start building your supply up, buy some food-grade buckets for longer term storage. Buy food storage items your family is used to, and date the cans or boxes so you can use the oldest items first. When you use something, jot it down on the grocery list to replace next week. As for water, large water containers for storage are good to have around, but you can also buy cases of bottled water for a supply you know is clean and portable. Also remember hygiene essentials like soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper when you are planning what to store.
Fire and cooking. If you have a fireplace or wood burning stove, be sure you have lots of firewood at the ready. Bags of charcoal can also serve you well, even if you burn it on a concrete pad and set your Dutch oven on top for cooking. Also don’t underestimate the use of your BBQ for preparing all kinds of meals; just be sure to store extra propane.
Guns and ammo. Guns and ammunition can be essential to your family’s safety against criminals or civil unrest. Even if you don’t want a gun, you might consider storing ammunition for bartering. Look at used firearms at your local store or online, and buy a box of ammo whenever you can. Please note that those with children need to be especially careful about the safe storage and security of these items. Never store a loaded firearm, and make sure guns are in a locked place inaccessible to children or others who may use them improperly.
72-hour kit. If you need to survive for a few days either at home or elsewhere, a 72-hour kit is essential. Include food, water, light, heat, blankets and first-aid supplies for everyone in the family. Consider keeping one in your car as well. If you aren’t sure what to put in it, the Red Cross has a great list.
Blankets. Especially if you don’t have a fireplace or wood/pellet stove for alternative heat, a large supply of blankets will be your best friend for keeping warm. Mylar emergency blankets are essential too, as they retain and reflect most of your body heat right back onto you.
Tools. Make sure your emergency supplies and/or 72-hour kit includes a good knife or multi-tool with saw, can opener, wrench etc. One of these tools can be put to dozens of useful tasks. And don’t forget the rope and duct tape!
Trash bags. These come in handy not only for garbage, but for sanitation if the plumbing isn’t working. Lining a household toilet or plastic bucket with a trash bag can work for temporary sanitation and disposal. You can also buy deodorant or enzyme tablets at any camping store.
Gas. You may be limited in the amount of gasoline you are comfortable storing. However, simply ensuring your family cars have at least half a tank of gas at all times can go a long way to helping you get to safety when necessary.
Grow your own food. Start with a few strawberry, tomato, and cucumber plants. Learn to can or dry foods. If you’re nervous about gardening, a fruit tree or two can be a great place to start. You can grow a lot on a tree without having to weed it.
Plan to assemble your emergency supplies over a number of months, or even a year. Get a calendar and write down what you intend to acquire or accomplish each month. Before you know it, you’ll have the peace of mind that can only come from knowing your family is prepared for anything.