Regardless of the time of year, the task of successfully preparing our home and families for an unexpected emergency is ongoing and does not end just because the calendar says it’s springtime, a holiday, or some other special day or event.
Over and over, we learn of natural disasters that strike out of the blue, putting many unsuspecting and ill-prepared citizens in harm’s way. And as much as it is human nature to have an “it can not happen to me” attitude, in our heart of hearts, we know that is not true. In addition, we all know that health woes or unexpected unemployment that can instantly put us into survival-mode.
I cannot count the number of times I have received emails from someone that was thankful for their preps and especially their food storage. When times were bad, they relied upon their stored items – often for months – until times got better.
Today, in Month Three of Prepping, I talk about the identification of needs that are specific to your family.
Identify Unique Family Needs
As basic as it may seem, it is easy to forget that in a survival situation, one size does not fit all. Two middle age adults are going to have challenges that are different than a family with young children or a single person who lives alone. Add someone that is mobility or otherwise challenged to the mix and and the needs change even more.
After you have evaluated the most likely disaster risks in your geographical area, you should take the time to identify those needs that are unique to your household and your family. Perhaps you live in an urban area and rely on public transportation rather than a private vehicle to get around town. This sets you apart from the suburban family with two vehicles that can jump in the car and evacuate when a horrific storm is brewing.
In another example, a gainfully employed couple with no children may have plenty left over at the end of the month to purchase a large supply of freeze dried food and to invest in top-of-the line lanterns, stoves and other gear. On the other hand, a family with four young children may need to rely on beans, rice and pasta as well as thrift store goods to meet their preparedness goals.
As we begin to prep in Month Three, keep the unique preparedness requirements of your family front and center. Nothing is absolute and to use a cliché, your mileage may vary (YMMV) when it comes to preparedness.
I think you get it. Let us move forward with Month Three of Prepping.
MONTH 3 SUPPLIES & GEAR:
- Canned fruits – 3 cans per person
- Any foods for special dietary needs (enough for 3 days)
- A bag or two of hard candies
- Large plastic tubs, bins or buckets for storage of food and other emergency supplies
By now you should have a good supply of basic foods put away including protein items such as canned meats as well as veggies. This month we add fruits as well. Why? Well for one thing, fruits add additional nutrients, variety and interest to your meals. But perhaps equally important, fruits add a touch of sweetness to daily fare. You may not think this is important but when you are in survival mode, the sweetness provided by canned fruits can kick start sluggish and depressed appetites and bring a smile to the face of weary family members, especially children.
In addition, fruits add fiber – yes even canned fruits. It is true that in many cases, it is the fruit’s skin that contains most of its fiber content. And, since many fruits are peeled before they are canned, the fiber content may not be as great as fresh fruit. On the other hand, using peaches as an example, two canned peach halves contain 1.4 grams of fiber versus 2.3 grams for a whole peach. Not a bad tradeoff considering fresh fruit will be hard to come by in an emergency.
Do keep this in mind: pineapple and apricots do not lose of any their fiber content during the canning process.
In addition to fiber, fruits provide an extra dose of hydration through their water content. The only caveat is this: instead of purchasing fruits stored in a heavy syrup, choose products packed in their own juice or water. Or, better yet, can your own fruits when fresh fruit supplies are abundant!
One last thing before moving on: A study by the University of Illinois Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition found that some canned fruits provide as much dietary fiber and vitamins as the same corresponding fresh fruits and in some cases, even more. Specifically, here is what they said:
Dietary Fiber – Many fruits and vegetables are important sources of dietary fiber. The canning process does not affect fiber content, making them comparable to fresh and frozen varieties. In fact, the heating process appears to make the fiber more soluble and, therefore, more useful to the body.
Something often overlooked when storing foods for an emergency are those special dietary items required for infants, children, the elderly or those with allergies or intolerances. My suggestion here is again, purchase for long term storage items that you already consume or, if you are unfamiliar with an item, pick some up for current use and see how you like it. Find some canned and dried goods that your kids will actually eat – as is – right from the can.
Did you notice that bag of hard candies? As with the sweetness provided by fruits, candy will become an extra special treat when standard emergency fare becomes boring and tiresome. A bag of candies will cost a dollar or maybe two, but the payback in terms of putting a bit of joy in your day will be priceless.
I know that this may take some trial and error but the moment is now, while you are not under pressure, to incorporate some new foods into the diet so that you can be sure that all members of your family will get adequate nutrition and calories when and if the time to dip into the emergency food storage stash arrives.
Finally, keep your eye out for sales on storage bins. If you shop around, you might finds bins such as these for less than $5 each.
MONTH 3 TASKS:
- Conduct a home fire drill
- Locate the gas meter and water shutoff points and attach/store a wrench or shutoff tool near them. Also store special shutoff instructions, if any.
- Establish an out-of-state contact to call in case of an emergency
- Identify a location for storing your plastic bins, tubs or buckets.
Fire Drills are Not Just for Kids
Do you remember the fire drills you used to have in school? If you are like me, it has been years (if ever) since you conducted a fire drill in your home. Think about this: it is 2 AM and your smoke detector goes off. Do you know what to do? Experts say that you have one to two minutes to get out of the house to safety. Could you and all of your family do that? And what if there is smoke? Most deaths in fires aren’t from the flames, but from smoke inhalation.
I think you get the point. Plan an escape route now. Be sure to take in to account second story bedrooms and if necessary, purchase an emergency escape ladder. Consider various scenarios and the obstacles you will face while attempting to get out of harms way. Plan now and then practice. Your life and the life of your loved ones may depend upon in.
Utility Precautions and Safety in an Emergency
When disaster strikes, it often affects one or more of the utilities in your home, condo or apartment. It is important to know where the main controls are located, and when and how to turn them off.
- Locate your main electrical switch or fuse panel, and learn how to turn off the electrical power system.
- If a generator is used as a backup power supply, remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Connect lights and appliances directly to the generator and not to the electrical system.
- Turn off water at the main meter or at the water main leading into the house. This will prevent contaminated water from entering your water heater and plumbing.
- Turn off the valve by turning it to the right. This will require a special valve wrench, available from a hardware store. Make sure you have the tool readily available.
- Make sure your sewer system is functioning properly before using it. This will prevent the contamination of your home, and possibly the drinking water supply.
- Locate your gas meter and valve.
- Have a wrench immediately available for turning off the gas supply.
- If you smell natural or propane gas, evacuate immediately and leave the area. Go to where you no longer smell gas. Do not use matches, lighters or open flame appliances. Do not operate electrical switches because sparks could ignite gas causing an explosion.
- Shut off gas only if you smell gas or hear a hissing noise. Contact the gas company to turn the gas back on.
Who to Call When the Big One Hits
Here in Washington State, we have winter storms, we have floods and, every once in awhile we have mudslides and earthquakes. No matter where you live, there is a likelihood – eventually – that some sort of disaster will strike. When that happens, who will you contact?
Think about that now and establish an emergency contact list so that you have names, phone numbers and email or text message addresses ready to go. Keep this information accessible in an easy to remember location not only for your own use but also for any responders that may need to contact family members with regard to your well being.
Whereas there is no guarantee your home will be left standing, a good place to store this information is taped inside a kitchen cupboard or hallway closet door. Remember those utilities? Another good spot is next to your water or other utility shut-off since that is one location that is likely to be checked by emergency workers.
Storage and a Bit of Redundancy
The final task for this month is to find someplace accessible to store your bins, tubs and buckets filled with food and supplies. The key word is accessible. It will do you no good if your emergency bins are located buried under a pile of junk in the garage. Best to clean out a section of the garage or other storage area now and keep it tidy. Having stackable bins or buckets will help.
Another good idea is to identify more than one storage area so that you can split your stuff up. This follows the same theory as packing two suitcases when traveling. If one gets lost, you still have another one to fall back on. Sounds simple enough but you would be surprised at how few people think about setting up this type of redundancy.
THE FINAL WORD
There is a lot to do in Month 3, especially when it comes to safety. Still, none of the tasks are difficult with the hardest part setting aside time to get them done. Any way you cut it, there are 31 days in the month. Break down the list, keep it simple, and begin today.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.