The How to Prepare and Survival Guide for Everything
Living in Perilous Times
"Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.” <Miguel Saavedra 1547-1616>
“ We are living in perilous times” was something my mother would say often. I can imagine that each generation had similar concerns about what was going on around them. However, this came home to me this AM when someone on the news made a similar statement. We must begin to think about what we will do if there is ever a real disaster.
Some of you may remember the widespread power outage/blackout that occurred in 2003. It covered parts of several states in the Midwest, Northeast and Canada. The thing I remember most is that the stores were price gouging on everything from batteries to food items. Candles that might have sold at the drug store or dollar store for 25 cents each or five for a dollar was going for $1.00 or more each. They were selling everything at inflated prices, 400 or 500 percent more than the regular every day prices. The price gouging wasn't widespread but it was happening enough that I really felt for people who couldn't travel outside their neighborhoods.
I stopped at a convenience store to get a loaf of bread, saw what was happening and walked out. I really did not need anything just wanted to have an extra loaf of bread on hand. I really had everything I needed-- a “stockpile of batteries, candles, flashlights, a battery operated radio and TV, non-perishable food and canned milk. In addition, I knew what to do to keep the food in the refrigerator cold for as long as possible. I was set and would be able to sustain myself for a week or more--two weeks if I was careful.
A few days later I was shocked to find how unprepared my friends were as we talked and they readily admitted they had very little to nothing. I know I was over prepared, but I could not imagine having nothing on hand in case of an emergency. When they asked why I had so much “stuff” my explanation was simple. I’d lived in Houston, TX for many years and whenever a hurricane came in at Galveston, Houston and surrounding areas got a great deal of the wind, rain, flooding, power outages, and the general damage that comes from a high powered storm. I got use to having supplies on hand because when a storm hit I did not want to have to worry about doing anything except get to my children and get home. After our conversation, I felt bad because I could have shared if only I had known.
That event really made me think about things--about me, my family, my friends and world events. The events of 9/11 had happened a couple of years earlier and every day there was something in the news that could be cause for alarm at some level somewhere in the world. When I was raising children, I always bought things in bulk because it was cheaper, it became a habit, and therefore I have more of everything than the average person or family. I began to think about what I would need to do if I ever had to leave my home quickly.
Getting to Prepared
The time to get every thing you need for when disaster strike is now--not just before or when the announcement is made on the news--now. Sometimes even the weather person does not know where a storm is going to hit, if it will change course, or how severe it will be. They cannot predict if the power is going to go out or for how long. Whether it is a natural disaster or something more being ready, being prepared just makes good common sense.
Following is a list of things we should have in our supply closets or cabinets. There should be a designated place in our homes where these items are kept, and every family member should know its location. Items that are date stamped should be rotated out with a fresher item replacing it periodically. I will list singularly instead of grouping so that this can be used as a check-off when stocking our supplies.
- Candles and candle holders (or some other safe container that will protect and act as an anchor)
- Flashlights (at least one per family member)
- One or more heavy-duty lanterns (like the ones used for camping)
- Batteries (in all the sizes needed)
- Battery operated radio
- Battery operated TV (optional--when the cable or satellite goes down you can very often get at least one local station)
- Survival knife
- Matches (wooden matches stay dry longer)
- A stack of old newspapers and/or magazines (can be used both as a fire starter and as insulation if sleeping on the floor)
- A bedroll or sleeping bag (1 per family member)
- Change of clothes
- Extra socks (this is especially important in cold weather, as clean dry socks will keep feet warm at night)
- Extra underwear
- Personal hygiene items (soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, comb, brush, tampons, etc.
- Baby formula
- Baby food
- Bleach wipes
- Antibacterial wipes
- Large supply of bottled water
- First Aid Kit
- Medication both prescription and over-the-counter (talk to your doctor about having extra an supply of prescription meds on hand
- Non-perishable foods--think about what your family like and go with it--cereals, dried fruits, canned meats, crackers, peanut butter--anything that is packaged in a way that will assure a long shelf life and does not need to be cooked, heated or refrigerated.
- Milk- you can purchase milk in boxes, regular pasteurized milk that does not need to be refrigerated until it is opened, can stay on your shelf for 6 months or more
- Canned evaporated milk --- mixed with a little water and maybe a little sugar (optional) over cereals is not as bad as you think.
- Toys for the kids
- Crayons and coloring books
- Puzzles and puzzle books
- Books and magazines to read
- Paper, notebook, pencils, pens
- Something inspirational -- a Bible, book or poetry, book or meditations -- whatever brings inspiration and encouragement for you and your family.
- Garbage bags (think about keeping a few of the odor blocking bags as well)
The following will be very handy especially in cold weather:
- Propane stove
- BBQ pit
Just be sure to have a good supply of firewood on hand.
Have some emergency cash on hand. Depending on the type of disaster, your ATM card or credit card and check will be useless. Do not keep large bills--keep the money in small denomination of $1 and $5 and coins. The reason for this is…during the 2003 blackout I heard stories of store owners pretending they didn’t have change when someone was trying to make a $5 or $6.00 purchase with a $20.00 bill. The scum-artist that comes out when people are in need is unreal. It is best to just be prepared.
Grab and Go Bags
Now what if you need to evacuate your home? Then I suggest a grab-and-go tote bag/backpack. There should be one tote bag/backpack per family member. It should be large enough to hold, at least, the following:
- Change of clothes
- Extra socks
- Extra underwear
- Personal care items
- Antibacterial wipes
- A couple bottle of water
- Medication (both prescription and over-the-counter
- Individual wrapped packets of crackers, peanuts, candy bars, trail mix, etc.
- Books or magazine
- Paper, notebook, pencil, pen
- A towel
- A battery operated radio with extra batteries
- Your emergency cash and coins
If you can manage it a separate family backpack with a few toys, crayons, coloring books, puzzles, etc. for the kids
Supplies for Your Automobile
Having your automobile stocked with certain supplies is a must especially during the winter months. If you are traveling any distance from home it is best to have at least some of the items listed. Being prepared may save your life or the lives of others.
- First Aid Kit
- A jug of water
- Kitty Litter (great for traction if stuck in snow)
- A small container with matches, candles, hand warmer packets
- Extra gloves
- A shovel (you can get the one with the shorter handle that will fit in a car trunk)
- Roadside flashers
- A red flag/handkerchief or piece of cloth to hang from you cars antennae or somehow mount on the car
- A couple of sticks or short thin poles
- Duck tape
- Flashlights with extra batteries
Get in the habit of keeping your vehicles gas tank as close to full as you can manage--if you do not already do so. That way you do not have to worry about trying to find gas right away and if you are stranded you will be able to run the motor off and on for warmth. Be sure to make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of any obstruction.
With you emergency cabinet stocked, yours grab-and-go-bagsand automobile trunks ready you will have enough to keep your family safe for a while, and don’t forget your friends and neighbors. Someone may be in need of assistance, reach out if you can.
None of us should be sitting around thinking about trouble, but it does not hurt to be ready in case it shows up.
Your local Red Cross, City and County websites will additional information and will have recommended evacuation routes, shelter, etc.
Maybe you have some ideas that would be useful and that you know would work when supplies you need are not available. Being prepared should be the concern of everyone; and helping each other out would allow us to do more for everyone. Together we can get through anything.
Let me hear from you and some of your ideas.
“Luck can often mean simple taking advantage of a situation at the right moment; it is possible to “make” your luck by being always prepared.” <Michael Korda>
Love to all,