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Family Survival Planning

Updated on December 12, 2014

Planning Is Essential For Your Family's Suvival

Are you practicing family survival planning? When you think of emergency essentials what comes to mind? First aid kit, flashlight, maybe some candles and snacks?

If so then you would be in the majority. Most people, according to a recent study conducted by The Ad Council which found that 6 out of 10 American families, said they did not have a family emergency plan; only 19% felt they were "very prepared" for a disaster. The problem, at least in part, is many people don't know how to prepare, or even what they're preparing for.

Darryl Madden, director of FEMA's Ready campaign expressed it like this: "What we try to get people to understand is that number one, not all disasters come with warning labels."

With that in mind it's best to think about emergency essentials as exactly that... what would you and your family need in order to survive, if there was zero outside support. From that point you can think of your preparation in terms of days. Most experts recommend a minimum 7 day survival kit.

Below we're going to talk about some of the basics that you should consider when starting your family survival plan and getting your home ready for an emergency or disaster, and the types of essential supplies you would need in an emergency.


Family Planning Is Truly Essential To Survive A Disaster

It's More Than Stockpiling Food

Family survival planning is about communication. It is crucial for everyone in your family to know what the others are doing. Disasters don't always strike while you're all together. If you're separated and the crisis is serious, and there is no cellular reception, how would you find your loved ones?

Part of your plan needs to be deciding who the secondary points of contact will be, preferably someone outside of your region so that they might not be affected by the crisis. Ideally have a list of 2 or 3 people who everyone knows how to contact, and that way at least there's hope that your family can reunite and know how each other are doing.

Your plan needs to have a defined location in your area where everyone will meet up following some kind of disaster... maybe a school on the outskirts of town. Often times, like after a tornado, telephone lines are down locally and emergency crews are busy for at minimum 24 hours or longer, and unable to help lessor emergencies like reuniting loved one.

Here's a great page which will help you and your family develop a plan that works for you.

Family Survival Planning Includes Education

Put These On Your List Of Preparedness Supplies

These are my top picks, and books that I personally own and have read. These books will help prepare you should the need ever arise to do things modern people haven't had to in a long, long time. It may also spark an interest in self-sufficiency that turns into something very rewarding. These Are Books At Amazon

The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 10th Edition by Carla Emery

This book covers such a wide variety of topics you won't believe it. It does as well as any book can in covering so many topics AND explaining them in a way so that YOU can do them, too. It's a fairly large book, and worth every single penny you'll spend on it. If I was taking just one book in a doomsday bag, this would be it.

Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham

This is an awesome guide for newbies to growing their own crops... it's specifically geared towards a smaller garden and therefore is ideal for everyone no matter where you live. For those who know nothing about gardening and growing, this is an awesome start. You'll be so glad you took the steps necessary to grow your own fresh vegetable.

Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition by Abigail R. Gehring

This is another awesome book that covers many of the same things talked about in The Encyclopedia of Country Living, but there are some notable differences and both are worthy of owning.

Storing Emergency Essentials

"It is not necessary to prepare...

...Your survival is not mandatory".

Life Safety Emergency Essentials - What Does Your Family Need To Survive

Next, think about those things which are absolutely necessary for day to day life. Of course you would need food, water, fire and possibly self-defense capability (even if passive).

Depending on where you live, self-defense will be included in the basic necessities. In a large city, for example, in a disaster when law and order is difficult or impossible for law enforcement to maintain, you may have to provide for your own family's protection.

As mentioned earlier, 7 days is the minimum you should aim for when preparing a kit. Most disasters will have a response and subsequent aid that arrive before that time, but the goal is to provide for your own safety for a worst-case scenario.

Water is the most essential, and if space permits then allocate 1 gallon per day, per person and 1/2 gallon per pet. That's right, don't forget your pets. You can purchase inexpensive gallon containers of water at your local grocer, and these store well in cool, dry areas.

Food isn't as critical as water because we can all survive for days without eating. However, when its so simple to prepare and store, there's no reason your family should have to risk going days without food. Freeze dried meals are easy to prepare by adding hot water and are quite tasty. Canned foods are also a good home storage option. This is a relatively simple category to prepare because you'll likely already have quite a lot of food in your pantry. Just be sure to keep rotating old and new stock.

Also think about first aid, and medicines, for each member of the family and your pets. If anyone requires life-essential medications then ALWAYS keep your prescription filled to the point that you are 30 days ahead. That is, when you are down to 30 days of medicine remaining, get a refill. If necessary speak to your doctor and explain to her that part of your family's emergency plan is to have a 30 day supply on hand at all times, which requires you to refill your prescription 30 days out and not when you're almost out. Be sure to also store some antibiotic ointments and first aid supplies.

If you live in a potentially cold region then consider heating; without power and gas services how would your family survive the bitter cold? If you have a wood fireplace then be sure to stock enough wood so that you always have plenty for at least 7 days straight, whole house heating. If you don't have a fireplace, you can pick up used wood burning stoves cheaply and get the exhaust installed for you for little cost, giving your family an added layer of independence and security. Some people choose to add these stoves to their garage for easier installation, and then if needed they can stay in the garage to remain warm.

Regarding self-defense, I won't go in to that here because it depends on your local laws, your skills and capabilities, etc... However, some ideas for passive self-defense are ensuring that your doors have two (2) good and sturdy locks (a basic tumbler/key lock and a deadbolt), and that you have enough plywood in your garage, shed or basement, pre-cut, to secure all the lower level windows in your home. You'll also need a battery powered drill, extra battery and plenty of screws so that you can apply the wood coverings to the windows.

Ideally make sure the wood panels are cut to fit snugly around the inner window frame, from the "outside". If looters or criminals cannot access the edges of the wood to pry, they'll be forced to manually remove each screw, giving you time to react. If you instead place the wood on the inside of the window, an intruder has a better chance of simply forcing the panel down by pressing inward.

Grab this free pdf from FEMA titled "Food & Water In An Emergency", it'll help you better understand the threat and how to best prepare.

Prophets of Doom - Disasters The Experts Foresee - Why Preparing For The Apocalypse Makes Sense To Them

If you haven't yet seen this History Channel documentary, then you should check this out. It is over an hour long so come back and check it out when you have the time. It is truly an interesting watch, to see how different experts view our future and the possible scenarios that will spell the beginning of the end.

Summarizing Emergency Preparation - Your Family's Survival Starts With Planning & Preparation

Remember to include your family, every member, in your disaster plan so that everyone knows what to do, where to go, who to contact, and they also know where your emergency supplies are stored. If you're the head of the house, make certain that the rest of the family understands how they would secure the house if you aren't there to do it or are incapacitated.

Too often the head of household doesn't consider that they may not be able to carry out their plans, and that others in the family need to know how to do certain things, too. It may even include a step-by-step walk through of securing the windows.

Aim for 7 days of survival without any outside support or public utilities (possibly no medical care, either). When you begin to consider your plan from this perspective it helps you think about all the little things that may be important in your particular region or home. And think about the potential types of disasters that you could envision for your area.

We have countless natural and man-made disasters from which to draw the conclusion that more often than not, people simply aren't prepared to provide for themselves and their families. Recent examples include Katrina, Sandy, Fukushima nuclear power-plant, and the Sumatra-Andaman Islands earthquake and tsunami of 2004. It could also include a tornado, chemical plant explosion, volcano, or any number of events that could directly affect your family.

Some would argue that you can't protect yourself from a tsunami, and that's simply not true for most people. Just like you can install a tornado shelter, like I have, you can build hurricane and tsunami proof structures that also store your survival necessities. If you live near a nuclear power plant then spend the few dollars it takes to buy protective masks and suits for your family. I certainly would.

Your family depends on you, so start today and take action.

What Kind Of Prepper Are You? - Basic Emergency Essentials Or Full Blown Prepper

Have you started prepping yet?

See results

How To Start Preparing Today - A Quick Look At Emergency Essentials

This is a video about preparing for local disasters or short term crisis. For those wanting to start a 7 Day Survival Kit this is a great video.

More Great Reading

Here are a few of my other articles, please visit them when you have the time, or bookmark them for later. I hope you find them helpful.

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For more great ideas on how to start preparing, check out this article at

Food, Storage and Survival.

I would be grateful to hear your comments or thoughts.

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    • safereview profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Kansas City

      Thanks Cherry, pets need food and water, too. USPreppers is a great site for families looking to build an emergency kit or expand on their survival plan.

    • Cherry T Jones profile image

      Cherry T Jones 

      4 years ago

      Good points on water storage. Don't forget those pets! I find that rain collecting is especially effective for pets because they don't mind that rain taste. The important thing to consider with rainwater collection though, is that rainwater spoils faster than bottled water does, so don't rely on it completely. This site has some pretty good water storage guidelines.

    • topclimb lm profile image

      topclimb lm 

      5 years ago

      Great lens to get someone started. Thanks!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Wow this lens is incredibly THOROUGH and VERY impressive. It has so much information, I'm bookmarking it to come back to use for reference (probably multiple times. We are preppers too but there are a lot of things, I have to admit, that you wrote about here that we had not yet thought of. Really a lot of interesting ideas! So I THANKS you for your wise words, insightful advice, and most of all, your willingness to help others. We are deeply grateful and wish you and your family all the best! -Pepper M, Website Owner,

    • safereview profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Kansas City

      @Bluefaerie19: Thanks for stopping by Lauren, and leaving a comment. Go ahead and write a lens, there is more information to be written about the topic than we'll ever be able to cover. Its so important that people need to be reminded that they're ultimately responsible for themselves, and self-sufficiency is the heart of prepping. Post a link to your article here when you're finished.

    • Bluefaerie19 profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a fantastic lens, way to put a lot of thought and effort into it. I was browsing around to see if I would want to write a prepping lens, but it looks like you have it pretty much covered. Thanks for sharing!

    • safereview profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Kansas City

      @Aunt-Mollie: You're right... I'll update the list and to add it. The cost is really minimal and lots of situations could call for it, even a local train derailment. Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You might want to add a gas mask to your list of essentials. I have one.

    • safereview profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Kansas City

      @Fart Pickins: I agree completely. Thanks for stopping by and sharing a comment.

    • Fart Pickins profile image

      Fart Pickins 

      6 years ago

      I think it's essential for everyone to prepare for any emergency situation. If you have a family to take care of this is especially true. I'm grateful for information like this.

    • safereview profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Kansas City

      @anonymous: It really is. Based on Amazon reviews, too, it seems to be an overwhelming consensus. I appreciate your visit and comment.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Encyclopedia of country living is a must have book!

    • safereview profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Kansas City

      @retrochalet: For a basic, everyday form of preparedness it truly is a small cost yet gives your family such tremendous security should even a local disaster strike your area. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment... much appreciated.

    • retrochalet profile image

      Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer 

      6 years ago from Hedgesville, WV

      What a wonderful lens! I really didn't think of having so many backpacks ready. The small cost of making some ready to go will save you in a disaster. Thanks again


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