Family Emergency Preparedness For Beginners

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Family emergency preparedness is something that you should…dare I say… ‘prepare’ for?

But what happens if you are caught off-guard? You may still be able to get key survival items and ride out a disaster with calm and grace. Today we’re talking family emergency preparedness…for beginners (dun dun duuunnn).

Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic. My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.

It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes. Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life. You want a quality long life.

My blog posts are my opinion and the results of things that I have tried that either worked for me or didn’t. My opinions are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them.

Emergency Preparedness Guidance for Beginners

Let me start off by saying that as much as I would love to talk about a potential zombie apocalypse right now…I won’t. Today we will stick to the more mainstream disasters.

And for the record, I do have my zombie apocalypse plan prepared. Not that I think zombies could happen, but it is more of a general apocalypse plan.

All kidding aside…

A few years ago, there was a huge forest fire that caused our entire city of 20,000+ to be evacuated. People were scrambling to find places to board their farm animals. People were desperately watering their roof in the hopes of keeping their home from burning down. Gas stations had long lines.

I had never been in a situation like that, but I did get some good advice as the situation became more dire:

“fill your car with gas and get some cash from the bank machine”.

Both of those tips were super helpful. I was lucky enough to have family close by that were not affected by the fire. My daughter was a toddler at the time, and I had no emergency supplies except a first aid kit that I kept in my car.

I was living in a suite that was completely by-passed by the volunteers who were urging people to leave town. It was sheer luck that someone called me to see if I had left town because I missed the bulletin that told everyone to leave (I was waiting for it). The city was empty when I left.

Not everyone gets that lucky.

More recently, the communities surrounding me were the ones being evacuated to my city. People had RV’s on every side street and stores were running low on supplies.

Motels and hotels were jam packed. People were scrounging for whatever they could get while their homes burned to the ground.

Photo of a cyclone
A cyclone

No matter where you live, chances are that sooner or later you’ll face some sort of a disaster

It could be a natural disaster like a hurricane, snow storm, flood, tornado, or earthquake.

Where I live, we play a guessing game every spring on whether there will be flooding from local lakes and rivers. As well, we are on high alert all summer for forest fires.

Or it could be a man made disaster that has the power grid failing or requires you to stay put in your home for a few days or even weeks, like the recent Coronavirus/COVID – 19 Pneumonia outbreak.

People are currently panic buying toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and meat. Stores are closing to stop the spread of infection and people are selling stockpiled goods at astronomical prices on Amazon.

The world can be a harsh place, but there’s something we can do.

Prepare.

We can prepare for disasters that could most likely to occur in our area.

Your first step in your own disaster preparedness should be to find out what types of emergency situations you need to get ready for. Take a few minutes to review the types of disasters your area is prone to.

For natural disasters:

  • If you live in Florida or the South East US coast, you should prepare for hurricane season.
  • In the North East or south of the Great Lakes, you should get ready for big snow storms.
  • People in the Mid-West, or South West, may come across a tornado or two.
  • Folks in California should prepare for earthquakes and forest fires.

Man-made disasters:

  • If you live near a dam, you may need a plan of action for flooding.
  • Or if you live near a nuclear plant, you should think about a way to get out quickly if something were to happen at the plant.

You get the idea. What disasters we prepare for will be different for a lot of us and what sort of emergency plan you have will depend on those variables.

Next, consider if you should stay at your home and ride it out, or if you may need to evacuate.

Obviously those decisions may be outside of your control, such as in the event of a mandatory evacuation.

There will also be plenty of times when the decision is up to you.

Think about what makes the most sense to you and your family.

If you are able to stay put, you can take care of issues as they pop up and prevent further damage. If a storm blows out a window, you can board it up and prevent water from coming in for example.

Other times, it may be safer and more convenient to get out of the disaster’s way.

For those cases as well as mandatory evacuation, think about where you would go.

Do you have family or friends you can stay with? If that’s not an option, look into an area you may want to travel to and get the numbers of a few hotels.

Things move fast when a storm hits and evacuations are ordered. You don’t want to waste time on trying to make those decisions then and lose out on a hotel room for yourself and your loved ones.

Shelters should always be a last resort. And P.S. You do not need to stockpile anything if you are being evacuated.

Related Post: 15 Positive Thinking Tips

 

Family Emergency Preparedness for Beginners
PIN IT!! Family Emergency Preparedness for Beginners

Make A Family Emergency Preparedness Plan

Let’s face it. Sooner or later your family will encounter a natural disaster or similar emergency event that requires you to jump into action to stay safe and sound.

Doing so will become much easier when you go in prepared and with a plan.

Here are three basic questions that you should ask yourself to formulate an emergency preparedness plan for your family.

Photo of hurricane destruction
Destruction from Hurricane Charlie

1. Where Will You Go?

The first question you need to ask yourself is where you will go when an emergency arises.

  • Will you stay at home and shelter in place?
  • Can you head out of town and evacuate?
  • If you are heading out, where will you go and where will you stay?

These are important questions and you don’t want to make those decisions when you are in the middle of a disaster.

It can be hard to make smart decisions quickly in those situations.

A big part of your emergency preparedness plan should be to think through possible scenarios and then get the information you need ahead of time.

For example, figure out what routes you can take to get out of the area, determine where you want to go if possible, and then get the contact information for a hotel or the people you’ll be staying with.

2. How Will You Stay In Touch?

There is nothing scarier than not being able to get in touch with loved ones during a disaster or emergency event. Just as important is being able to get news and emergency alerts or announcements.

Think about how you will accomplish this both while you’re on the road and when you’re staying in your home or emergency shelter.

Making sure everyone has a mobile phone is a great start.

Don’t forget that these devices need to be charged. Having chargers, including car chargers with you is a must. An additional battery, or a backup power supply will come in very handy as well.

Be conservative with your device usage to make the battery power last as long as possible. It’s important to talk to your kids about this ahead of a disaster and remind them regularly.

Don’t rely on just your smart phone for news and communication.

A backup plan will come in handy when you can’t get a good connection or run out of power on your device.

Designate a meeting point or a person that everyone contacts when you can’t get a hold of each other.

Have a backup solution for finding out what’s going on like a weather radio.

3. What Supplies Do You Need?

The more prepared you are, the safer and more comfortable you’ll be when the inevitable happens.

Depending on what natural disaster you face, where you live, who is part of your family, and simple things like weather will determine the supplies you need.

Start by creating an emergency preparedness backpack with items that you already have.

Take the basics you need for survival including food, water, shelter, and medication. Don’t forget about your pets.

  • From there, start thinking about creature comforts like light, entertainment, and the likes.
  • Having a headlamp and a good book can make waiting out a power outage a lot more pleasant.
  • Card games can keep children entertained and less frightened
  • If you have a camping stove, water, and cocoa mix you can give everyone a warm drink.

Be prepared and you’ll greatly increase your chances of making it through the emergency or disaster just fine.

Survival Food Storage For A Disaster

Photo of a flooded street
A Flooding Emergency

Regardless of where you have to “bug out’ to, having food and water is your top priority in any disaster situation. You can make it without power, and a lot of creature comforts, but you can’t survive without food and water.

Emergency food storage doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.

In fact, it can be mainly comprised of items your family is already eating. Before you go out and start buying all the water, bread, and milk you can get your hands on, figure out how long you want to prepare for.

Having at least a week’s worth of food and water stored up can be a great idea during a natural disaster.

Keep in mind that you not only have to ride out the storm itself, but that it may also take extra time before help and supplies can make it to you.

Start with your water supply.

Hopefully you will continue to have running water, but don’t depend on it as your only source of drinking water.

Buy water bottles, or fill up milk jugs, soda bottles and the likes to ensure you have enough clean water to safely drink for a few days.

Over-estimate how much water you will need and purchase extra if you can.

Fill up large pails, and your bathtub, with water for washing or flushing your toilet.

You can make it much longer without food than without water. This should be your number 1 priority.

Next think about non-perishable food that your family will eat.

Choose food that you can eat as is. Apples and peanut butter are a good choice. Canned tuna or chicken makes for a great protein source.

It is good to choose foods that will sustain you, like protein, which helps to balance blood sugar and keep you full longer than junk foods.

Choose jerky, pepperoni sticks, baked cheese crisps (like Parmesan crisps), nuts, trail mix, and protein bars.

If you have a camping stove, or a grill outside, you may also be able to heat and cook some foods.

Photo of a camp stove
A Portable Propane Camp Stove

Coffee, tea, hot chocolate mix, soups, and canned chili are great options if you have the ability to heat water when the power goes out.

If you are planning ahead, consider ordering canned freeze-dried foods. Companies like thrivelife.com sell small or large cans of dried meats, veggies, and fruits. As well, they have instant quinoa and brown rice.

Just add water and let the item hydrate for a few minutes. Freeze dried fruit can be eaten as is.

You can also shop at online “prepper” stores or places that sell MRE (Meal Ready to Eat or Army ration-style). Many MRE products come with their own ‘stove’…a heater in a bag that gives you a hot meal in a few minutes.

Start with a list of things that you know your family will eat.

As well, use up items that will perish during the disaster.

From there, start to round it out with things that will keep you full and healthy and pick those up as needed.

For example, you may eat canned vegetable or chicken noodle soup regularly, but aren’t a big fan of tuna. Keep a small supply of the soups in your pantry at all times (rotating through them as needed), and pick up a few cans of tuna as needed.

Talk to your family about your survival food supply and let them have input into what you should stock.

It will give them a sense of control and responsibility and of course ensure that everyone is happy with the meals available when things get serious.

What Supplies Do You Need In Your Emergency Disaster Kit?

You never know when you’ll find yourself in a situation where you have to manage without power, internet, or the ability to head out to the store to buy what you need.

Create a home emergency preparedness checklist of items you need, so that you don’t have to think under pressure.

Food And Water

Stash at least a gallon of drinking water per person per day. If you must purchase bottled water, try to get gallon-sized, or larger, containers.

Aim for supplies that last you three to eight days depending on the situation you’re in. In the case of a major weather event or other natural disaster, it may take a while for rescuers and supplies to make it to your area.

If you might get stuck in your car, be sure to keep a jug or two of water stashed in your trunk.

The same goes for food. Stick with non-perishable food items that you can eat without any cooking or preparation required.

Protein bars, peanut butter, nuts, trail mix, jerky, pork rinds, and canned goods are all great choices. Don’t forget about utensils including a manual can opener for your kit.

If you think that you might have to hike out of an area, avoid canned food or glass containers, as they are heavy to carry.

First Aid Kit contents
Contents of a Family First Aid Kit

Medical Supplies And First Aid

If you require prescription medication, stock up as much as you can ahead of time. You don’t want to risk running out.

As you put together a basic emergency kit, include some first aid items so you can treat minor aches and pains as the need arises. While you’re at it, throw a few wet wipes and some mouth wash in there.

Being able to clean up will make you feel much better.

Clothing And Bedding

If you are getting on the road, or sheltering somewhere outside your home, it’s important to have clothing and bedding to make it until you can get back home. Since many natural disasters can pop up quite quickly, it’s a smart idea to make a small pack of clothing part of you emergency kit.

Throw in a couple of piece of underwear, a pair of pants, a couple of shirts, and you’re good to go. Remember, this isn’t your travel wardrobe. This is the dire emergency stuff you have in your kit “just in case”.

Adding a small pillow, a sheet, and a light blanket is also a good idea. Keep it in your car when the situation warrants it.

Communication

Aside from food and water, communication will be your biggest concern in an emergency event. You need to know what’s going on and you are going to want to get in touch with loved ones.

Start with cell phones and chargers. They should be a high priority item that makes it into your emergency at the last minute. You may also want to keep a backup power supply or extra batteries for your phones in the kit. Make sure they are charged as well.

Don’t rely on just your smart phone. Having a weather radio in your kit along with some spare batteries is always a good idea.

You can purchase a wind-up radio and a wind-up flashlight at camping supply stores. Keep these in your car.

You should also keep a list of emergency contact information including addresses and phone numbers in there along with some old-fashioned maps. They will come in handy when the wireless system fails, or your phone dies.

Be sure to keep your vehicle’s gas tank topped up

In times of disaster, people fill up and get out of town.

I have seen fights break out at gas stations as last minute shoppers who are already stressed, try to buy fuel.

Along with that, be sure to keep a stash of cash on hand. Bank machines can run out of cash during these situations, or banks might be closed due to evacuation or loss of electricity.

Miscellaneous Supplies

If you have a baby or pet, make sure you have plenty of supplies to keep them happy and healthy.

Stock up on diapers, make sure you have a pet carrier and leash, and don’t forget about food and water for everyone, including pets.

If you’re traveling or evacuating with a pet, check on places that will allow you to bring your furry friends.

A small kit with some plastic bags, tarps, duct tape and a few basic tools will also come in handy if you need to fix a leak or broken window. In short, be prepared and ready for anything.

This includes bringing a roll or two of toilet paper. You will not regret that decision.

Five Must Have Supplies That Should Be Part Of Your Disaster Preparedness

No matter where you live, what your personal situation is, or what type of disasters you may be facing, there are some basic supplies everyone should have on hand “just in case”.

Purchase a brightly colored backpack that you can spot easily. Keep this in your hall closet specifically for emergencies, so that you can grab-and-go quickly.

Here are five things that you should stock and store at all times to make sure you can make it no matter what live throws at you.

1. Water

Photo of water bottles
Water Bottles

Keep a 12 or 24-pack of water bottles in the same closet as your emergency backpack. This is your immediate drinking water. Hopefully you have a couple of gallon jugs of water in your trunk. Use this to refill individual bottles.

You can’t make it very long without a reliable source of drinking water.

We’ve become so reliant on our faucets that it’s easy to forget that we should store water for a few days whenever something happens.

2. Non-Perishable, Ready-To-Eat Food

Also keep in your backpack some ready to eat foods including protein bars, jerky, trail mix, and other lightweight foods that you can eat without heating.

On the off chance that you hit a road block or if you have to walk a distance, you will want light to carry items.

You can purchase a supply of freeze dried food cans and keep them in a box in your garage or trunk, ready at a moments notice. You can break these down and put the contents into zipper bags for easier carrying.

Consider creating an emergency preparedness food storage area in your home.

Add supplies to it as you purchase them. Rotate stored food into your regular menu prior to expiring. Many emergency food products have a long shelf life, like 5 years minimum to 25 years maximum.

It helps to stick with items that you eat on a regular basis, so you can rotate through this food store and don’t risk having it go bad.

Start to stock up if the time of year approaches where natural disasters can occur.

Don’t forget to bring some of this emergency food supply with you when you need to evacuate. You can’t always rely on others to provide you with food and stores and restaurants along the way may be closed.

3. Weather Radio

The next important item that makes it on the list is a small battery operated weather radio. Keep a set of spare batteries with it as well.

Or purchase a hand crank radio just for this purpose.

Keep them both in your emergency disaster kit, ready to grab in any situation.

This is important because you will need the latest weather and government updates as well as news on road closures or wash-outs.

Don’t rely on your phone and the internet as your only source for information. The network could go down or overload and sometimes they can’t keep up with avalanches or road closures.

4. Flash Light And Batteries

Photo of a flashlight
Flashlight

You will never not need a reliable source of light. Shop around for a hand-crank flashlight. Cranking can also keep children busy, at least for a while.

Candles will work in a pinch, but they also bring the risk of setting your surroundings on fire. Be sure to store them inside a tin can.

This can give you light and heat if you are stuck in your car during winter storms.

Just remember to open a window a bit so that the oxygen that the candle burns does not cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Make sure your kit includes several flash lights and spare batteries. Headlamps are particularly helpful when you’re trying to move around get stuff done.

5. First Aid Kit

The size of your kit will depend on the size of your family.

Start with a standard kit available at your local store and then add any and all medications you and your loved ones take and need.

Check this kit and the rest of your disaster supplies regularly to make sure you’re prepared when you need to grab your supplies and leave quickly. Make sure that your antiseptic wipes have not dried out (they do that when they are old).

You will want it to contain: safety pins; antiseptic wipes; bandages of different sizes; emergency universal scissors; a sling; and some kind of adhesive tape. Plus anything else you deem necessary.

Conclusion

It only takes a short amount of time to prepare for emergencies, but planning ahead is key. Try to keep some emergency food on hand at all times. Ditto for some bottled water.

Preparing for disaster is everyone’s responsibility. Bring along a deck of cards or some travel games to keep little ones busy. Pack nutritious foods that will keep you going during uncertain times. And keep a supply of fresh drinking water to stay hydrated.

Please share this post with anyone who can benefit from it, and stay safe out there!

Here’s to our health!

-Irma

 

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