Are You Prepared? by Shawn Turner
Many sources recommend stocking 3 days of food, water and supplies for each member of your family to be prepared for an emergency. This is a mighty big assumption that an emergency situation will last 3 days or less. FEMA now recommends that you stock a 2 week supply for each family member, including pets, after seeing what really happens in an emergency situation.
That said, this is fine and dandy until the situation lasts longer or your friends or neighbors seek sanctuary at your house. Now you have a choice. You can be "that guy" who turns away the family with small children because the parents did not have the foresight to prepare, or you can be the hero and set the example for others.
The key to preparedness is not to try to do it all at once and definitely not wait till the last minute. The term "Panic Prepping" has become a buzz word with the media in light of this year’s hurricanes; this is an oxymoron, as the truth is that you are either prepared or not. Can you ever be completely prepared? Probably not, but when looking at your preparedness list, if there are items on there that you would have to go to the store to get in the event of an emergency, then you're not prepared.
September is National Preparedness Month and we will be giving tips and recommendations to help you and your family become more prepared and self-reliant in the event of an emergency.
The process of become prepared can seem a bit overwhelming, but if you take it in small bites, you will be surprised at how fast you will see your preps (food, water and supplies) increase.
#1 - Water
A minimum of one gallon per person per day per family member for drinking, cooking and sanitation. Don't forget about your pets. Store water in 5, 7 or 55 gallon food grade water containers - don't use empty milk or juice containers. You can find these containers online or in the camping section of your local store. Bottled water is fine for drinking, but not the most convenient for cleaning and sanitation use and takes up more room than larger containers. FEMA recommends adding 2 drops of unscented bleach to each gallon of stored water. If you are storing long term, you may want to consider 8 drops per gallon. Have a water filter on hand to remove the chlorine taste from water before you consume it. It is also a good idea to have water purification tablets and a filter straw on hand for emergency use in case your drinking water supply runs low.
#2 Food Glorious Food
Stock up on Non-Perishable Foods such as canned meats, fruits, vegetables, juices and powdered and evaporated milk. Pay attention to best buy dates and rotate cans out of your storage regularly to keep your stock fresh. Most low acid foods are consumable 3 to 5 years after best buy date and high acid foods are good for about 2 years. You can find more detailed guidelines on line from food pantries. Consider High-Energy Packaged Foods like peanut butter, crackers, nuts, raisins and dried fruits, snacks and cookies to keep your energy and spirits up during an emergency.
The key to food storage is to stock up on the types of foods that you already eat on a regular basis. Rice and beans are fine, but if they are not part of your regular diet and you find yourself in a stressful situation, a dramatic change in dietary habits can cause added mental stress to an already difficult situation. That being said, rice and beans along with sugar and salt are great staples to store long term in sealed Mylar bags. Add oxygen absorbers and desiccants to these before sealing to keep them for long term storage, possibly 20 years or more.
Don't forget the other members of your family; remember to stock up on Pet Food and Treats. Many pets need consistency in their food to avoid intestinal issues. Try to prepare for your pets just as you would for any member of your family with special dietary needs. (Note: Many shelters do not allow pets.)
#3 You got skills
During a time of crisis, your abilities and skills may prove to be invaluable.
It is important to develop skills now and not wait and try to read a book if there is an emergency.
The internet is full of outdoor survivalist telling you how to survive if you find yourself on a deserted island in an episode of Alone. Those are all great things to know but what situations are you realistically to face.
Consider learning to Can and Dehydrate foods. These skills are fun and interesting in everyday life and as I found the hard way, Canning and Dehydrating foods may serve you better than freezing especially when the power goes out or the door to your freezer is left open and all of your stock of frozen goods ends up at the curb for the trash collector to pick up.
There are many great resources out there that take the guess-work out and when dealing with food safety, stick to what the professionals say.
Practical knowledge of Gardening can serve you well especially if you find yourself to be in a long term situation. Not everyone has the space or soil for conventional gardening so consider Straw Bale gardening which is great for limited space and creates its own composted soil. There are many great resources on this for you to explore.
Make sure that your whole family and care givers for adults and children are up to date on their CPR and First aid certifications. Consider an advanced First aid or First Responder class for you and your spouse.
Develop and practice self-defense skills whether it be basic hand to hand and firearms training or advanced training in these areas. Remember that owning a firearm and knowing how use and be proficient with one is not the same thing. Take time to practice your self-defense skills they may just save your life or that of a loved one.
Learn how to filter and purify water for drinking, in a crises the water supply may be contaminated and the less you have to depend on authorities to provide you with the basics the better off you and your family will be.
Redundancy is key with skills. Always have a backup plan and make sure that your family is skilled as well.