We talked a little earlier this week about the importance of having a stocked pantry for the inevitable bumps in the road, but with the numerous hurricanes and earthquakes impacting North America this month, I thought it might be a good idea to delve into preparing for emergencies. Don’t wig out on me, I’m not talking fall-out suits, MREs and bunkers. I’m talking practical preparedness: simple things you can do now, on the cheap, to be ready for an emergency. I think we can break them down into 4 areas: food/water, first aid, provisions for bugging-in and provisions for bugging out. Let’s take this one area at a time.
Food/Water— We talked about food earlier this week, so let’s address water, which is even more valuable than food in an emergency. In a disaster, the water supply is almost always compromised, whether we’re talking a hurricane, flood, earthquake or tornado…and it’s one of the first items to sell out at the market. Don’t wait til the last minute to try to stock up on water when it’s free(ish) and readily available now. FEMA recommends storing a minimum of 1 gallon per person per day for up to a week….that’s a lot of bottled water, but as it really doesn’t expire, it’s a sensible purchase. If you’re so inclined, you may also consider some sort of water purifiers, either chemical or mechanical, as an added layer of protection.
First Aid— I’m married to a former combat medic, so our kit is probably a bit on the side of overkill…but a plain, basic kit will go a long way in preparing for a disaster. Think bandages, antibiotic ointments, gauze, a small pair of scissors, tweezers, rubber gloves, rubbing alcohol or peroxide. Be sure it’s in a convenient case and you know where it is located. That’s as important as having the items themselves.
Provisions for Bugging In— This is a broad topic that you’ll have to tailor to your family and region, but consider what you’d do if you’re sheltering in place during a longer-term power loss. How will you heat your home? How will you light your home? How do you plan on cooking? Sleeping arrangements? Safety? Communication? In a power outage, we heat our home with wood and cook on the woodstove in the kitchen or on the grill. Our home is laid out so we can shut off the second story and sleep downstairs on air mattresses by the living room fireplace. For lighting, we have oil lamps, wind-up lanterns, flashlights and candles. We keep a supply of useful items such as duct tape, paracord or rope, lawn bags, plastic tarps and hand tools for emergency repairs. Cell phones are always charged and the crank-up weather radio is ready in a flash. Survey your own home and come up with a plan for heating, lighting and cooking that suits your family.
Provisions for Bugging Out— In case of an evacuation (mandatory or otherwise), keep your car in good working order with at least a half-tank of gas and safe tires. You might consider keeping a kit in the trunk of your car with essential items for an emergency: food, water, blankets, a flashlight, a first aid kit, road flares, rock salt/kitty litter, perhaps a sturdy pair of shoes, maps, duct tape, a tarp. Again, this is a broad subject and you’ll have to tailor it to your region, vehicle and needs.
It would also be incredibly wise to put together a binder or lock box of vital papers, to either take with you or lock in a secure location like a bank. Think along the lines of SS cards, birth certificates, insurance cards, licenses, adoption papers, wills…anything that would be difficult (or impossible) to replace following a disaster. A lock box would also be ideal to store a bit of cash and important family heirlooms like Grandma’s diamond earrings that are indeed irreplaceable.
So this is just the briefest possible overview of preparing for an emergency but there is scads of more in-depth information out there. Both the CDC and the Red Cross have useful websites, but your best option is to contact your own local emergency management site or sheriff (non-emergency number only!), as they’ll have information better suited to preparing you in your particular region.
Now please join me in prayer for our southern-most states as they prepare for Irma to make landfall. God speed—