Monday, September 23, 2013

September is National Preparedness Month

A friend mentioned that September is National Preparedness Month and that got me thinking..."How prepared am I?" The answer is, not very. I figured, if I'm not that prepared, it is likely that others aren't as well. So I thought, maybe we should get prepared together!

My cousin, Jen, is prepared. I like to tease her about being a prepper. I also joke that if there's a nuclear winter or a zombie attack, I'm too much of a wimp to want to stay alive. Jen was kind enough to offer some tips from her personal experience to help us all get prepared (or as I like to call it, "prepped"). Here's what she had to say: 

I believe there are many differing levels of preparedness. Not all of us are attempting to score a reality show or are selecting who will join us in our state of the art underground compound, but everyone does need to have some level of preparedness for emergency situations. 

Here are 10 tips to get you started on your prepping adventure. 

1.  Acknowledge that a disaster can actually happen to you!  In the prepper world, ignorance is not blissful.  Mental preparation to deal with a disaster or emergency is key.  If you have given any thought to dealing with a disaster, you are more likely to execute in a calm, efficient manner. 

2. Consider the disaster most likely to happen to you and plan accordingly. Anything from a tsunami or an earthquake to a tornado or a lengthy power outage or busted water main. It defeats the purpose to plan a tsunami evacuation route when you live in Oklahoma, as you are more likely to land a supportive role in the Wizard of Oz. 

3. Plan to evacuate and prepare to be mobile. This can involve an emergency evacuation notice (GO NOW!) or getting stuck in your car for 24 hours in traffic (It happens!). You cannot survive on lip gloss and a ketchup packet.  Depending on how much time you spend in it, your vehicle needs to allow you to be just as prepared for an emergency as your home. A simple bag with a few key items can change everything. Get Out Of Dodge Bag/ Bug Out Bag. 

4. Plan to evacuate your home: basic fire and emergency safety. Know how to get out of your house and plan alternative routes to do so.  There is a reason we all remember fire drills from school. So plan and practice once a month.  Make sure everyone knows their role in an emergency. Big or small, it all matters. 

5. Hunker down at home. Preparing to leave your home is one scenario, making it your safe house is another. While you may not be defending it from the zombie apocalypse, it is still your territory. Fortify it. Make it a safe place for your family that provides what you need to survive. 

We're half way through! But, let's pause for a moment because there is something worth noting. I believe prepping happens in stages. I find it very overwhelming to try to prepare for EVERYTHING that could possibly ever happen all at once. It's exhausting really. Prepare, but do so within your means. Pick a task to tackle. Complete in one or two months. This length of preparation allows you to factor in budget. While there are people who dedicate their lives to prepping, I can concede it isn't practical for everyone. The realist in me says look at your budget and incorporate some prepping into it. The prepper in me says budget be damned the zombies are's a constant tug of war :). Having said that, let's move forward. 

6. Water. Water. Water. You cannot survive without it. And you need to start storing it. You need one gallon per day per person in your family. Optimal storage length is enough for two weeks. Family of 4 water supply for 2 weeks is 56 gallons. Let's not forget our furry friends either. Pets are 1 ounce per pound of weight. 

7. Food. It depends on how your family eats but I think many would be pleased to know that a small investment in some canning jars and some solid canning recipes can mean your family will eat nutritiously in an emergency. The goal is to store enough for two weeks.

Generally though, let's grab a few basic food items to have on hand. Canned soups and vegetables. Dried fruits and nuts. Crackers and granola bars. Rice and beans. Packaged Instant Oatmeal. Peanut Butter. Jelly/Jam. Ramen Noodles. Power Bars. Fruit cups/Squeezable Fruit. Jerky. Instant COFFEE. Tuna packets. Powder Juice Mix. MREs. 

A great way to jump start your food and water storage is to allot $5-20 a week to begin your stockpile of food. A case of water and some small extras stored in your 'safe' room or closet is a great start!!!

8. What about storage? With water, if you cannot store it, you will need to be able to find some and sterilize it. Y
ou need at least 2 types of water purification methods readily available to you. With food, stock up on canned goods while they are on sale. Excellent idea, until you realize you don't have a can opener. Or the one you have breaks. Then what??  

Want to cook or heat your food/water??  Keep alternative heat sources around. We always, ALWAYS keep one extra propane container full and one entire bag of charcoal at the ready. Consider having an extra propane/charcoal for a grill, small cooking appliance (grill or camping stove), sternos, and pot/pan to boil/cook on. After a couple days with no power, nothing will rejuvenate the soul like a HOT cup of coffee or soup/meal. 

Double, better yet, triple proof all your prepping efforts!!!

9. What goes in must come out. No working toilets??  Sounds lovely right??  Might be something you want to think about.  Wipes. Diapers for kids (heck even adults!). Toilet Paper. A (gulp) 5 gallon drum. Kitty litter. 

10. While there is so much more to list, here are a couple additions to think about:
Medication: You and your pet. Do you have enough in an emergency or if the pharmacy was closed for an extended period of time??  Also consider basics for the family. First Aid Kit. Tylenol. Imodium. Bandages. 
Energy sources Flashlights with extra batteries. Blankets and pillows. Extra clothing with shoes for each family member. Candles. Chem-Lights. 
Fix-it:  Items to trouble shoot any situation. Duck tape. Gerber/Pocket Knife. Small tool kit. Rope. 

For additional information and insight check out

Great tips from Jen. I appreciate her insight - and her humor! In addition to Jen's fabulous list, I suggest having an extra kit of essential oils handy. This could be a set of 5mL bottles you fill and set aside or, if you're in the position, buy a set to store away with your emergency supplies. We know that we can use these in place of many first aid supplies and medications and to keep things clean. I know I will be needing lots of lavender and Zen to keep me calm. 

Other useful websites: Red CrossCDC, and Ready

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