Posts Tagged ‘emergency preparedness’

(said in my best monotone voice):

This is a test of your preparedness system.  This is only a test.  If it were a real emergency, you would be required to use your preparedness stores for survival. This is only a test.

Are you ready?

If nothing else, this past week with the swine flu (aka H1N1 virus) should have made you think more seriously about the status of your preparedness plans.  It is important to be prepared – not panicked.

What if this had been bad enough that everyone was required to be quarantined in their homes for a month?  Two months?  Six months?

Could it really get that bad?  Possibly.  Scientists have said for years we are due for another major pandemic. Hopefully this one won’t be it, but sooner or later it realistically could happen.

So my question to you is this…are you prepared?  Do you have ample food in your pantry?  Enough to last a month or even longer?  Do you have N95 masks?  Hand sanitizer?  Medications to help ease flu symptoms (such as ibuprofen/tylenol, nasal decongestants, cough syrup, etc)?  Kleenex?  Bleach?  Medications you need to take on  a regular basis?

These are all valid points to consider.  There may come a time when it is medically necessary to stay home from work/school in order to prevent a contagion from spreading.  If nothing else, this with the swine flu should be a wake up call.

If you have not prepared yet, yesterday was the time to do so.  Start immediately – your life and that of your family may depend on it in the future.

If you have already taken steps to prepare, go over your supplies – double check any areas you may be lacking.

No, you can’t think of everything, but doing SOMETHING is better than nothing.

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This should be part of every family’s emergency plans – food ready to go at a moment’s notice along with all of your other provisions (you do have a bag with a change of clothes and a toothbrush at the very least, right?  😀 ).

If you have to evacuate your home in a hurry, it pays to have an assortment of food storage in a bucket or two so you can literally “grab and go” without trying to decide what to take with you.

I took two of the orange “homer buckets” and divided up a variety of foods between them.  I don’t know how long this food will last for our family, but I can say with some confidence that it is at *least* a weeks’ worth, probably longer if we had to stretch it.  I’m using this only as an example – what you store in yours may be totally different.

(I also put a list in the top of each bucket in addition to listing on the outside for easy reference later – also make a note of rotation date, such as “rotate by 12/2010”.)

In bucket number one, we have the following:

Emergency bucket #1

(2) pkgs lima beans – dry (all pkgs vacuum sealed unless otherwise noted)
(1) large pkg pinto beans (dry)
5# bag white flour
4# bag white sugar
box of matches
powdered milk (probably 3 cups or so)
1# box baking soda
1/2 box instant potatoes (with instructions cut off of the box and included in pkg)
1 can vegetable shortening (inside a gallon ziploc bag)
1 large pkg popcorn kernels
1 pkg macaroni and cheese (removed from box, cheese packet vacuum sealed along with macaroni)

In bucket #2:
emergency bucket #2

Vacuum sealed packet of dried onion / packet of chili powder
3 – pkgs macaroni and cheese
6 – pkgs ramen noodles
1# yeast
10 oz baking powder
1# salt
2 – DAK hams
1 – can tamales
2 – cans chili w/beans
1 – can rotel tomatoes
2 – 6oz cans tomato paste
4 – cans Spam
1 – LARGE bag of long grain white rice
1 – pkg of dehydrated mixed vegetables from a #10 can

From both of these buckets, you could make almost endless combinations of meals – everything from beans and rice, vegetable soup to bread, pancakes, biscuits, etc.

Hope this inspires you to get some “grab & go” food together for your family as well!  😀

UPDATE 4/12/09:  I also added 2 – 12.5 oz cans chicken breast and a ziploc bag of restaurant ketchup packets to the buckets.  There was a little bit of room left, and I wanted to make the most of it.   I’m estimating we could have at least one substantial meal a day for nearly two weeks from the contents of these two buckets.

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Outstanding list courtesy of Highlander at:  http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=36711

You could also buy ALL of the following items for around $200.00.  There is no excuse not to get started!


For just $ 5.00 +/- you can buy the following storable things:


* Five packages of Idahoan instant potatoes (flavored)
* A case of ramen noodles (20 pkgs)
* five cans of sardines
* five gallons of purified water
* nearly two cases of bottled water
* four cans of peaches, pears or fruit cockatail
* 2 jars of mandarin oranges
* five pounds of rice
* three to four pounds of spaghetti
* Two cans of spaghetti sauce
* three bags of egg noodles
* eight packages of gravy mix
* four cans of whole or sliced new potatos
* four cans of green beans or at least three cans of carrots, greens, peas or mixed veggies
* Two cans of Yams
* six cans of pork and beans
* one 40 ounce can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew
* Two 12 ounce cans of chicken, tuna or roast beef
* One 1lb canned ham
* three cans of refried beans
* three 12 oz cans of raviolis or spaghetti O’s.
* Two 12.5 ounce cans of Salmon
* Five pounds of Oatmeal
* Four packages Dinty Moore heat and eat meals
* five packages of corn bread mix
* Four pounds of Sugar
* Five pound of Flour
* 1.5 quarts of cooking oil
* three one pound bags of dry beans
* two cans of apple juice
* a jar of peanut butter
* two boxes of yeast
* two bags of generic breakfast cereal
* 10 8 oz cans of tomato paste/tomato sauce
* four cans of soup
* four cans of Chunky soup
* 8-10 pounds of Iodized salt
* two bottles of garlic powder or other spices
* Two boxes of kool aid
* A can of coffee
* 2 bottles of powdered coffee creamer

Non-Food Items

* one manual can opener
* two bottles of camp stove fuel
* 100 rounds of .22lr ammo
* 25 rounds of 12 ga birdshot or small game loads
* 20 rounds of Monarch 7.62×39 ammo
* a spool of 12lb test monofilament fishing line
* 2 packages of hooks and some sinkers or corks.
* artificial lure
* two packages of soft plastic worms
* three Bic Lighters or two big boxes of matches
* A package of tea lights
* 50 ft of para cord
* a roll of duct tape
* a box of nails or other fasteners
* a flashlight
* two D-batteries, four AA or AAA batteries or two 9v batteries
* a toothbrush and tooth paste
* a bag of disposable razors
* eight bars of ivory soap (it floats)
* a box or tampons or bag of pads for the ladies
* two gallons of bleach
* needles and thread
* a ball of yarn
OTC Medications (at Dollar General)

* 2 bottles 1000 count 500 mg generic Tylenol (acetometaphin)
* 2 bottles 500 count 200 mg generic advil (ibuprofen)
* 2 boxes 24 cound 25 mg generic Benadryl (diphenhydramine HCI)–also available at walgreens under “sleep aids.”
* 4 bottles 500 count 325 mg aspirin
* 2 boxes of generic sudafed
* 4 bottles of alcohol
* a box of bandages (4×4)

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If you look at everything that needs to be done to prepare your family for hard times, it can be almost overwhelming.  I’ve decided to break my “to do” list down into more manageable tasks, and focus on what I can realistically accomplish in a day.

Today, I’m dehydrating a#10 can of mixed vegetables.  The can originally weighed over 6 pounds (with liquid), and by the time it’s completely dried, it should easily fit into a pint size jar.  This saves valuable storage space and also extends the shelf life of the veggies.

Another day, I plan on pressure canning a batch of pinto beans so they’ll be handy whenever I need them.  I love storing dried beans, but there are times I’m running behind and forget to soak them.  Having a few jars canned will help make some quick meals later on.

I also need to take a day and break down some larger sized purchases into smaller bags and vacuum seal them.

A little here and there adds up in the grand scheme of things.   The important thing is to actually start.  At the end of the day, I have a sense of accomplishment knowing I’ve done something positive towards my goal of being self-sufficient.

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Having lived through one of the worst ice storms to hit Arkansas in 2000, I can offer some practical advice on how to prepare.  They are forcasting another storm for us currently, so I thought I’d share some tips.

  • Make sure you have adequate food for several days, and also a way to heat it.  If you have a gas stove, you’re in good shape (unless you have one of the new ones with spark ignition which use electricity).  Have a Coleman camp stove or gas grill for backup if you have to.  (DO NOT use a gas or charcoal grill indoors!)
  • Have alternative heat:  wood stove, gas heater, kerosene heater, etc.
  • If you have a generator (a necessity in our neck of the woods), make sure you have several gallons of gas onhand.  Also, it’s a good idea to drag the generator out and make sure it will run.  You may need new spark plugs, oil, etc.
  • Here’s one a lot of people neglect (I was guilty of this last time) – WASH AND DRY ALL OF YOUR LAUNDRY!  I was caught with several loads of laundry waiting to be run when the storm hit in 2000.  We wound up evacuating since at that time we had no backup heat, and the power was off for a solid week.  An emergency is not the time to worry about whether or not you have clean underwear.  😛
  • On the same note:  run your dishwasher if you have one.
  • If you believe the ice storm will be severe, you can fill the bathtubs with water, along with any other containers suitable to hold drinking water.  This can be used to flush toilets if nothing else (a #10 can of water is usually sufficient to flush the toilet if it is poured into the BOWL, not the tank).  If the power goes down for an extended period of time, you will eventually run out of water in the supply tanks if they are not gravity fed.  WARNING:  If you have small children, I would NOT fill bathtubs with water due to possible drowning hazard. Please take this into consideration. Fill 2 liter bottles or other containers instead as additional water supply.
  • Fill up your vehicles with gas – can be used as backup fuel for your generator in an emergency (a siphon for $3 for $4 from Walmart is something everyone should have onhand).  Also check your antifreeze.
  • Check on your elderly neighbors to see if they need anything.  Most of the older people are better prepared than most, but they might appreciate a loaf of bread or gallon of milk from the grocery store.
  • Check batteries for lanterns/flashlights, lamp oil for lamps, matches, candles, etc.
  • Get a good book or two to read, puzzles for the kids, games, etc.  This could be great family time if you’re stuck for a few days!

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Let’s have a show of hands – how many of you have an emergency preparedness kit?  Uh huh.  That’s what I thought.  Not many people do, but all of us need one.  In the event of a major catastrophe and you have to evacuate your home, you need to be able to grab a pack and go quickly.  There are times such as this where you will not have hours to prepare – it will be minutes.

Your pack can be as simple or elaborate as you choose, but it should contain basic items that everyone needs for *at least* 3 days.  You can use a backpack, large book bag, military bag (from a military surplus store), etc.  WATERPROOF IS BEST.  If you have to evacuate in a torrential rainstorm, you will appreciate having dry clothes to change into.

Don’t forget your pet’s needs while you’re planning.  We have a cat, and I have a couple of vacuum sealed bags of food for her along with a cardboard box containing a ziploc bag of litter that I keep in her pet carrier.

Ideally, each person in your family needs a pack customized to their needs and ages.  Children will need a couple of toys, games, and/or paper and crayons to keep them busy.  Don’t forget special medical needs for those in your household too.  I also highly recommend in addition to a pack for each person that you also make a “family pack” which contains items such as a hand crank radio, extra food, nylon rope, extra money (some of it in quarters in case you have to use a pay phone), copies of important papers, sun block, insect repellent, compass, etc.  The family pack can be another large bag or even a plastic tote that can fit into your vehicle.

Essential items in our packs:

  • Bottled water – also water purification tablets or a water purifier/filter
  • Food – granola bars, crackers, Pop Tarts, beef jerky – whatever you like
  • Emergency blanket
  • Matches
  • Firestarters (fire wicks)
  • Candles / Light sticks
  • Flashlight (hand crank)
  • Whistle
  • Toilet paper
  • Wet wipes (may be the only way you can freshen up if bathing facilities are not available)
  • Poncho
  • Comb / brush
  • Toothbrush / toothpaste
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Multi-tool (combination pocket knife, can opener, screwdriver, pliers, etc.)
  • First Aid kit (includes ibuprofen, bandaids, alcohol pads, gauze pads, etc.)
  • Bag of bags (ziploc bags, trash bags, sandwich bags, etc.)
  • Heat packs
  • Change of clothing (check seasonally and for kids check sizes every 6 months)

The important thing is to start assembling these items NOW. You do not have to spend a lot of money, and I would personally not recommend buying the pre-packed kits from the store.  You can assemble your own pack with better quality items.  A large number of these items can be found as extras in your home.  If you have a vacuum-sealer (Food Saver), you can even seal clothing to make sure they stay dry.

Another 72 hour kit list is available from Emergency Essentials by clicking here.

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In December 2000, our part of the world had one of the worst ice storms to hit in decades.  I was completely unprepared, and it was a life-changing event for me.  We had no backup heat, no large quantity of food in stock, laundry was still waiting to be washed, and my husband had no way to run his CPAP machine for his sleep apnea.  I realized at that time how extremely fragile our way of life is – what an illusion we live with daily when something such as an ice storm can completely debilitate a family.   The shock of realizing how spoiled we are and our dependence on modern conveniences was a real eye opener.

We were out of power for over a week, some people were out for several weeks.  Because we had no backup heat, we were forced to evacuate our home and stay with family.  Afterwards, it mobilized my husband and me to take a hard look at our lack of self-sufficiency.  I suspect most families are the same way – it takes a major event to spur you into action.

We wound up installing a free-standing natural gas heater that requires no electricity, and bought a gas-powered generator so that we could at least run a few “necessities”.  Within one week of installing the heater, our power was out again from yet another storm.  Thankfully this time, the power was only down for 24 hours, but we were prepared!  Since that time, we’ve had to drag the generator out at 2am so my husband could sleep, but at least it was available.  Because it is medically necessary for him to have an electrical source, we also recently bought a 200 watt Xantrex Powerpack which has paid for itself several times.  We keep it beside the bed so he can just reach over and plug his CPAP directly into it and go back to sleep til morning.

When the power goes out, and you realize laundry has not been done, dishes have not been washed, floors have not been vacuumed, and now you have no way to do this without “conveniences”, it really is a slap in the face.  Some of us have to learn the hard way, but once that lesson is learned – you never forget it!

Now with the economy in a mess, I feel like there’s a storm brewing that could send us all back into the economic stone ages.  Times are hard on almost everyone you talk to with no end in sight.  The government taking over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is just a band-aid on the real problem – people are living beyond their means.  When you talk about downsizing to a smaller home (or already live in a smaller home by choice), folks look at you like you’ve lost your mind.  We would love to have a large brick home on several acres of land, but the reality is that we couldn’t pay for it.  We had a house in the Burbs in the early ’90s, and almost lost it when my husband’s hours were cut.  Without the overtime he had always worked, we almost lost everything we had because we had based all of our bills on it.  Huge mistake on our part, but again – another learning process.  We downsized our home, and have never regretted it.  There have been times it’s been hard just to pay for what we have now, but we’re so thankful for it, no matter what other people think.

I really believe we must all make preparations now and not wait until disaster strikes (whether economic or otherwise) and realize we were caught unaware.  If you have money, that’s great, but what will you do when the grocery stores have no food?  Money will not feed your family or keep your home warm in the winter in an emergency.  You, not the government, have the responsibility to take care of your family.  That responsibility includes being able to feed them, keep them safe and warm, and provide basic necessities.  There are a lot of things we all would like to have, but they are not integral to living.  Lord, help us to know the difference!

My sole purpose in life may just be to serve as a warning to others.  Learn from the mistakes I’ve made, and take the time to think about what you can do to be more self-sufficient.  Ask yourself what you would do if an emergency happened and grocery stores ran out of food?  What would you do if the power went out for a month?  What if it was in the dead of winter and the central heat went off?  What if the roads were bad enough you couldn’t get to extended family’s home?  Be prepared for the unexpected!

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