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Posts Tagged ‘survival’

(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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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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If you’ve watched the news lately,  you know the economic outlook isn’t good.  I hope I’m proven wrong, but I really think we’re in for some hard times ahead – worse than most of us living have ever had to go through.

The housing market in this country is nowhere near hitting bottom yet.  It can get a lot worse, and from what I’ve read lately by some leading economists, we’re not out of the woods by a long shot.  No one knows exactly what the outcome of this will be because what’s happening is unprecedented, and it’s on a global scale this time and not limited mostly to our country (as was the Great Depression in the ’30s).  I am not trying to cause a panic by saying that, but I do tend to be a realist.  After the stock market crash in 1929, the papers the next day were saying everything was fine and to keep investing as usual.  As Suze Orman says, “Focus on what you HAVE, not what you HAD.”  The stock market is not the safest place for your money to be, but that’s a whole other post.    😛

There are some things you can do to help get yourself and your family through this a little easier.  This is by no means a complete list, but some no-nonsense ideas that can serve as a buffer.  It’s time for everyone to get practical about their finances and way of life, and as Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else.

1.  Pray. I mean that sincerely.  Ask the Lord to guide you and give you wisdom to make good decisions.  Whatever happens with our economy, I take comfort in knowing that God is still in control.  Nothing happens to us that does not go by His throne of grace.  If He says we can go through this, then we can.  That doesn’t mean it will be painless or easy.

2.  Pay off as much of your debt as possible. Consider downsizing to a smaller home if need be so you can more easily pay your bills.  If you have a two-income family, could you make it if one of you lost your job?  If the answer is no, then you need to reconsider some priorities.

PAY OFF YOUR CREDIT CARD DEBT.  Start with the smallest amount first, then when that card is paid for, take that payment and move to the next bill.  Eventually, you will get it paid off, but you need to KEEP it paid off.  It will also give you a huge sense of accomplishment as you pay off the bills, and have fewer payments to make each month.

Don’t buy a brand new vehicle – buy an older model or at least a program car only if you HAVE to.  If the vehicle you currently have runs great and is paid for, keep it.  You will save a bundle.  If you do have to buy a new car, consider gas mileage and maintenance costs.  A Hummer may look really cool, but how will it look sitting in your front yard on blocks because you can’t afford to put gas in it?  Gas will eventually go back up.  Learn from our recent $4 a gallon lesson – it should have been an eye-opener.

Don’t buy furniture (or any other large purchase for that matter, i.e. bass boat, 4 wheeler, or any other “toys”) unless you absolutely HAVE to.  If you can make do with what you have, then do it.  I’d dearly love to have new living room furniture, but I won’t spend the money on it because I have a feeling we may need that money to live on.  A new couch will not feed my family in a crisis.

3.  Cut up your credit cards. If you feel you have to have one card for emergency use, put it in a bowl of water and freeze it so you don’t have instant access to it.   If you can’t pay cash for it, then don’t buy it.

4.  Have some cash in reserve, preferably onhand. Fireproof safes are relatively inexpensive at Walmart for the smaller ones and are easier to hide within your home.   I’m not saying pull everything out of your bank, but I do think you need to consider that the FDIC has HALF the amount of money onhand to cover all of the deposits in the US at the current time.  People in the ’30s lost everything when their banks failed.  Now I know that since the FDIC (a private institution, btw – not gov’t owned) was instituted, no one has lost a dime on their deposits.  I’ll give them that.  But what if your bank went belly-up and you didn’t have access to your money (i.e. debit card, checks, savings, etc.) until a new bank took it over?  Could you still put gas in your car or food on your table in the short term?

5.  Stock your pantry deeply. I’ve posted several times here about stockpiling food.  You could have $50,000.00 in the stock market, but will that feed your family if you didn’t get a paycheck next month?  Canned goods will keep for a couple of years (check your expiration dates) and rice, beans, flour, etc. will keep for literally years if stored properly.  Buy what your family eats, rotate your stock so you eat the oldest first, and keep like items together so you can find them more easily.  Learn to cook if you don’t know how.  You’ll save a ton of money by not eating out as often.  Also don’t forget to stock things like toilet paper, medications, personal hygiene items, etc.  You know you’re going to need and use them – why not buy extra?

6.  Learn how to defend yourself personally and your home. If food gets scarce, people will do anything to feed their families.  Buy a firearm and learn how to use it.  Buy extra ammo.  Take a self-defense course.  Evaluate your home and see what security measures need to be taken to improve the safety of your family.  Could your front door be easily kicked down?  What areas of your home are vulnerable?

7.  Have backups to your backup plans. Don’t rely solely on grid-powered methods of cooking, heating, drinking water, etc. in the event of an emergency.  If the power goes out for an extended period of time (even a week or two), you must be able to heat your home, cook food, and have clean drinking water.  If you have electric heat, buy a gas or wood heater for backup.  If you are on public water, consider storing at least two weeks’ worth of bottled water for emergency use.  A gas-powered generator is also a good idea, but you must have extra gas onhand to run it.  Gas grills can be used (OUTSIDE ONLY) to cook food year round.  You can even heat water on them to take a bath if you had to.  Disregarding such fundamental necessities will leave you extremely vulnerable.  Think outside the box – most people are so complacent they never think of “what if” until it actually happens.

8.  Learn new skills. This includes baking bread, gardening, sewing, hunting, fishing, quilting, knitting, soapmaking – anything that is useful and practical in making your life more comfortable in the long run.  Skills require time and practice.  You don’t want to wait until an emergency to learn how to hunt and kill a deer, then skin and butcher it to feed your family.

9.  Get fit. Now I’m preaching to the choir on this one in particular, because it’s an area I’m still struggling with, especially with the holidays approaching.  Fit people are healthier, get sick less often, look better, feel better, and are usually happier.

10.  Live simply, love deeply. Spend time with your family, and take time to unwind.  The breakneck speed most of us live with is not healthy.  Learn to say “no” – you don’t have to be involved in every activity.  Don’t waste time or money on things that don’t really matter in the long run.

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