We’re creating this Jump-Start Guide to show you that preparing your household and family to survive a crisis isn’t as difficult or scary as it sounds. For many, thinking about preparing for an emergency can sound overwhelming, expensive, and time consuming and this may stop some from doing anything. Or perhaps some family members may feel reluctant because they feel it is simply unnecessary. Still others may think that preparing for the worst focuses on negative or frightening things and don’t want to deal with it. Or they may think of preparing for an emergency puts them in the class of those ‘crazy people’ who move out into the middle of nowhere and shun society. We here at RightWingInk don’t think it’s any of any of those things and we want to let you know that small, cheap, and free steps can be taken right now that can make a huge difference should something happen.
Preparation is very important and in our household we don’t feel it is based in fear but rather in developing a sense of peace and security by knowing we are prepared. Part of the focus in our household is that we maintain a good outlook. By working together we build bonds within the family. It gives us topics to talk about, something we can all have in common, and keeps us all communicating with each other and working creatively together to come up with ideas and what-if discussions instead of each family member in a different room attached to various electronic equipment. We don’t have any young children and all enjoy zombie movies so to keep things light and fun we make out like we’re preparing for a zombie apocalypse. This involves several different scenarios that are similar to something we may really have to deal with – being stuck in the house for days, having to get back home safely if we’re out and something occurs, and dealing with possible epidemics that are common during natural disasters.
Young children may find it fun just to have to recite things on command and then get lavishly praised or a high-five when they do it successfully. Show them different ways to get out if there’s a fire, how to stay low to avoid smoke-inhalation, and where to meet outside should the house need to be evacuated. If done in a non-frightening manner, being in on the plans can make the children feel a sense of accomplishment and capability, and like a contributing member of the family.
So, one thing you can do that costs nothing but could save a life is get together with the immediate family and come up with plans as to what to do should a crisis occur and not everyone is home. It may be advisable for the adults (or at least the interested adults) get together and determine what are likely crises in your area and rank them in order of likelihood. Don’t forget things like home fire, unexpected long-term unemployment, illness, or injury. Then have a family meeting and discuss how to handle various crises. If an environmental emergency, for example, how will you meet up? Are there numbers you can attempt to call? Social websites that everyone can post on to let others know they’re OK if there’s an Internet connection? If the children are at school is there a member of the extended family that lives closer? Should they go there first instead? Make sure the children have phone numbers memorized. Try to come up with not just one plan, but a Plan B. And a Plan C as well. Go over these plans routinely. Have the children recite numbers or plans periodically.
Afterward, think of focusing on building just a small water supply, enough for everyone for three days. This can also be done cheaply. Save used PETE plastic bottles such as soda bottles and sanitize and fill with water. Don’t use milk or juice bottles unless they’re glass (for more information about that see here.
Stash a small amount of cash if you can in a safe place but easily accessible of you need to leave quickly. Even buried in the bottom of your bug-out bag perhaps. If something should happen that the banks close down for a few days it’s helpful to have some cash to work with.
If money is an issue, go to a used sports supply place and see if you can find decent backpacks to build your 72-hour packs and Get-Home bags (which is what I keep in my car in case I end up stranded somewhere and don’t have the car or the ability to call for a ride home). Or try checking/asking on Craigslist or Freecycle or check out our classifieds . While new or high quality may be preferable, something is better than nothing. Take a look at the sites and blogs and see what others think is important but then take your own situation into account. You may be able to fulfill many of your needs without even buying anything. For example in my Get-Home bag I included an old pair of sneakers in case I was caught out wearing dress shoes and had to walk any distance, an old sweatshirt in case it’s going to get chilly, sample size soap from a previous hotel trip and other little sample size items collecting in the bathroom drawer, a partial roll of toilet paper, one of the many church keys we’d collected over the years, an old cell phone we weren’t using that I charged (you can still call 911 once you get to an area with reception) and other items I found around the house. Other items can be found at the dollar store – A whistle to attract attention, a compact make-up mirror to either attract attention or start a campfire if need be, a small LED flashlight, some snacks and canned food that don’t require refrigeration, etc.
A 72-hour bag is something you would wish you had if something happened that led to you needing to leave your home quickly and had little or no time to pack. Wildfires closing in, a train derailment or traffic accident involving a vehicle carrying hazardous material, or an unusually violent storm expected, all may lead you to need to leave quickly. It doesn’t take long to get some packs ready but if the police or firefighters knock on your door and tell you that you have 10 minutes, that is not the time to try to gather your things.
In regards to your 72-hour bag (or Bug-Out Bag as some call it) if absolutely nothing else is in those bags yet make sure at least that there’s enough food and water for 3 days. Over time you can add to it as you can afford or as you run across items. It also doesn’t cost much to make and keep copies of important information, a list of phone numbers you may want to call once you get situated, and again, a church key in case you come across canned food while out. And of course you can then add to it as money permits. See Mac’s post on “The 17 Most Important Things to Put in Your Bug-Out Bag.
Click here for The 17 Most Important Things to Put in Your Bug-Out Bag.
Is there a pet? He or she may require a little bug-out bag as well. It would be a good idea to keep a small pack with canned food or dry food (but make sure you rotate the dry food as the oils in it will go rancid over time), paperwork regarding any health issues, a picture in case he/she gets lost, plastic bags for poop clean-up, perhaps a blanket and a toy, and keep this bag close to where you keep his/her leash/carrier.
For your food storage also, you can start out small. Find non-perishable items (things that don’t need refrigeration or freezing) that your family already eats that is on sale and purchase extra. Find an area to store some of the extra items and after a few grocery trips you will see the stash grow. For any type of natural disaster, it takes the emergency services about 3 days to set up so even just having enough food to feed your family for a week or so is a big step. (Don’t count refrigerated food as power could go out and that could quickly spoil.)
With this quick little jump start you will already be prepared for many possibilities and as you can see it costs relatively little and isn’t overwhelming or scary at all. That should offer great peace of mind and also ensure that you will be able to hold out until help arrives or at least give you time to assess the situation more calmly and then make further plans. To further assist you we have a link here to a bullet list of things to do that you can print out and use to mark things off or add notes to, etc.
RightWingInk’s After-Jump-Start Guide to Preparing for an Emergency: The Next Step- Making Your House Emergency-Ready