“I can’t wait until that big earthquake hits so I can use my food storage,” said no one. But, if you’ve done all you can to prepare yourself for the worst --and who really knows when or what that might be--then you can feel good about what you have accomplished.
Emergency preparedness is for those worst-case scenarios: earthquake, tornado, or massive financial collapse. However, there are other situations to prepare for that are not quite as cataclysmic: A massive snow or ice storm may down all power lines and make it impossible to get to the store. Flooding or fire may leave you without power. A truckers’ strike might leave your region without supplies. An economic depression could make buying the necessities too costly. In each of these situations, having supplies stored can ease difficult times.
You Can Handle Anything That Comes Your Way
Learning about emergency preparedness may seem unfamiliar at first, but you don’t have to learn everything or do everything all at once. Understanding what emergency preparedness is as well as recognizing what steps are needed to achieve a high level of preparedness is vital to protecting yourself and those you love. Gaining knowledge and experience about emergency preparedness brings confidence. As your knowledge increases, so will your preparedness.
Realizing that you can handle what comes your way will give you peace and self-reliance, two traits that will help you make it through almost any emergency situation.
The Standard List: Food, Water, Shelter, Personal Supplies
Most emergency preparedness experts give a standard list to be prepared: food, water, shelter, and personal supplies. This list could be expanded when these essential items are part of your emergency preparedness plan.
Plan for an emergency by asking yourself:
Preparations for Just 3 Days Can Make a Big DIfference
If you are not sure where to start, begin by storing enough food and water for 3 days for each member of your family. Three days is about how long it might take for fire, police, government, or relief agencies to know how you are doing and provide help. AccessingReady.gov can give you basic information about how to start.
Water: You Can’t Live Without It
Any expert in emergency preparedness will express the necessity of acquiring an adequate supply of water. Most individuals can live only about 3-4 days without water. In some instances, some individuals have made it 8-10 days. Most people seem to want to get the food first and then the water, but water is much more important than what or even if you eat. The average man needs 3 liters (a little more than 3/4 gallon) daily and the average woman needs a little over 2 liters (approximately 1/2 gallon) a day. If you need water for your 3 day disaster kit for you and your spouse, you will need 15 liters of water. Children under the age of 13 need 1.5 liters (a little less than 1/2 a gallon) a day and those over 13 need 2 liters a day. Storage will probably be the most difficult factor dealing with water.
One easy way to have water for emergency preparedness is to purchase bottled water. Bottled water is easy to store and does not need to be treated to use. Small containers of water can also be easily stored. If you store water from your tap you will probably need to have the water treated in order to store it for a long period of time. See this website for water storage tips.
Food: You Can Start Small, but Make Sure You Start
Storing food is essential to emergency preparedness. There are many ways to store food and many vendors who specialize in food storage. From #10 cans to mylar bags, and from MREs to plastic buckets, there are plenty of foods designed specifically for emergency preparedness.
But food storage doesn’t need to be complicated. Whatever food storage you choose will depend on space, convenience, cost and personal preference. You can increase your food storage without excessive cost. Each time you go grocery shopping, you might purchase extra cans of vegetables or fruits or beans. Whatever you normally eat is what you will want in your food storage.
Starting out with a 3 day supply of food will give you the confidence to continue adding to your food supply. Food storage companies do sell 3-day to 1 year food kits. These are more expensive so it might be good to start small and put a few items in a backpack. Granola bars, packaged tuna, crackers, and other snack items are a start.
If you choose MREs or dehydrated food, it is important that you know what you will eat and that it tastes good before you purchase food kits. Having a supply of food that no one likes will cause major problems.
Shelter and Clothing: Because the Elements Aren’t Always Friendly
Your home may be a suitable place to be in an emergency. Many people have endured extended power outages, freezing ice storms, minor flooding, even personal hardships like unemployment and remained in their home.
However, some natural disasters will require temporary, portable shelter. If an earthquake, tornado, or flood demolishes your home, you will need a portable shelter.
Shelter might not be an issue if there is an earthquake in Utah in the summer, where the temperatures are bearable. But, the heat could be a big problem for those living in Phoenix or Dallas. You will need a tent as a shelter from the sun. Similarly, not having proper shelter in the winter could be very devastating if the weather is cold and snowy. It is better to have a tent on hand than to bet on a natural disaster happening during pleasant weather. There are many tents to choose from that can give you protection.
If you can’t afford a tent right now, purchase several emergency blankets (available for under $3). You can use emergency blankets as coverings or even as a makeshift shelter.
Proper clothing is also necessary for different weather conditions and disasters. Long sleeve shirts can be rolled up, but a short sleeve shirt cannot help if the weather is cold. Shoes that protect your feet are also important. Keep a bag of extra clothing in your car as well as in your home so it is easy to grab if needed.
Personal Supplies: You Don’t Appreciate Toilet Paper Until You’re Out
Toilet paper, soap, wipes and bleach are items that must be on your list to have in case of an emergency. These items and others as well, will help with keeping yourself clean and prevent the spread of bacteria and other harmful substances such as flood water, chemicals, and sewage.
Store Emergency Items Where They Are Easy to Reach
At the very least, put together a 3-day emergency bag, suitcase, or plastic bucket with water, food, extra clothes, medications, a first-aid kit, and emergency blankets. Cash and personal documents are also a good addition to this 3-day kit. Keep this bag handy in case you need to leave in a hurry. Check your emergency kit every six months to ensure the food and water are good.
Longer-term storage items should be kept in a cool, dry place so that the temperature is fairly even. These basic items should be in a place where they can be easily accessible. You wouldn't want your food and water in a place where you could not get them in an emergency.
Don’t Forget Emotional Preparedness
Preparing yourself emotionally may be one aspect of emergency preparedness that might be normally overlooked. How will you deal with a death or serious injury? What happens if family members are separated or cannot contact each other to make sure they are safe?
Discussing the worst-case scenarios makes it possible to plan and be more prepared physically and emotionally.
Have a Plan
Discussing in advance the different scenarios can lessen the trauma, allowing you to deal with the situations better. Peace of mind comes from having a plan. Part of the plan needs to be selecting a location where everyone will meet in case of an earthquake or fire. Practicing what might happen can help ease stress and have those in your home feel more prepared and less worried.