How prepared are you? Will you be like thousands of others and wait until the last minute to stock up on food and water? Do you even have a working flashlight in your home or auto? As we have clearly seen, waiting until it is too late does not work. Grocery stores run out, gas stations run dry and we certainly can’t depend on the government to help.
You need to start planning today, preparing for the unexpected so that you and your family can survive. Official sources always recommend having a 72 hour or 3 day kit. While it certainly helps, it is nowhere near adequate for an extended survival situation. As we have seen a natural disaster can last for more than 3 days. A possible bird flu pandemic may keep you housebound for weeks or months at a time. So how much is enough and what do you need?
You should plan on meeting your family’s daily needs for a minimum of a month, preferably up to 3 months or longer. This can include:
Food–Stock up on the basics. Flour, sugar, non-perishable foods like macaroni products, rice (a 25lb bag of rice is around $6.00 at SAM’s club), dried milk. Canned goods usually are good for a year or two. Start adding to your pantry now by buying a few extra items every time you go to the grocery store. Take advantage of sales, coupons and store brands. Buy foods you can fix easily, don’t need a lot of water or don’t need to be cooked at all. You can also add to your supply long term dehydrated foods that you can supplement your other food stores. They are vacuumed sealed and have a shelf life of 20-30 years. MRE’s ready to eat meals can also expand your food stores. Buy food and supplies in bulk at Sams club or Costco. Rotate your stock so you always have the freshest food available. Also include things like high-energy bars. Don’t forget pet food.
Water–You can store water in large containers, 5-gallon mylar water bags, camping jugs and other containers. You should also own a good water purifier.
Tools–are you equipped to handle minor repairs around your home? Fix your auto? Repair or build needed survival supplies? Tools to turn off natural gas, shovels to dig out, chainsaws to cut up downed trees and other essential rescue tools may be needed.
Energy–there may be interruptions or outages in electrical and other utilities. Do you have an alternative way of heating your home? A way of supplying power to lights and other needed electrical devices? Stocked up on batteries? A portable generator can be used for emergency backup. You will need gas to run the generator. Solar panels are handy for charging batteries. Extra propane can be used for a stove, lights or heat. Have several flashlights on hand. Newer flashlights feature L.E.D. bulbs that burn brighter and last forever. Also look for hand cranked flashlights that don’t need batteries. Include lighting such as oil or propane lanterns.
Medical– a good first aid kit is a must have. Over the counter drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, antacids, etc. Also personal medications and other first aid supplies. Don’t forget spare glasses/contacts and contact lens solution. Brush up on your first aid skills.
Household supplies–everything from shampoo and toothpaste to toilet paper, soap, detergent, bleach, disinfectants and everything else you use on a daily basis. Don’t forget hair clippers if you can’t get out to the barber. Have supplies on hand to deal with sanitation and garbage.
Communication–Newer walkie-talkies that have a 10-12 mile range will help you stay in touch with your family in the event your cell phone stops working. Give each member of your family one and tune them all to the same channel. Buy an emergency battery for your cell phone. They are good for about 60 minutes of talk time. Portable shortwave radios will help you keep in touch with the world. A small portable tv will also help keep you informed if the power is out. A hand cranked radio is also a must have.
Camping equipment–stoves, tents, sleeping bags can all come in handy especially if you need to relocate. Pick up camping supplies on sale and used equipment at garage sales.
Bicycles–if you need to get around and there is no gas a bike is the best item to have.
Relocating–if you choose not to stay in your home, then you need a plan on how you will relocate-to another town or remote cabin, etc. You may want to stock your vacation home with supplies and be prepared to “bug out” before travel is restricted.
Figure out how far you need to get away. Think about storing extra gas to provide a full tank and enough for your journey. 3 or 4-5 gallon gas cans, could be enough to get you several hundred miles away. Because of the fire danger it is very important that you store them safely and rotate them on a regular basis. Meaning, if you have 3 filled cans, week one dump that in your gas tank and refill that can. Week 2 dump the second can in your gas tank and refill that can. Week 3 dump can 3 into your gas tank and refill that can. Week 4 start over with can one. Using this system you will always have 15 gallons of fresh gas on hand in addition to gas that is already in your gas tank.
Plan your exit strategy from your city or town. Keep a map in your car with the roads out highlighted. Find all the alternative routes out of your city or town. Stay away from main highways if at all possible. Have copies of the map in other vehicles if other family members need to meet you later. Practice your escape route by driving it at least once.
Store your “bug out” survival supplies in containers that can be quickly loaded into your vehicle. Keep a smaller version in your vehicle at all times.
Start today preparing for the unexpected and if it happens you won’t need to divert your time and energy away from caring for your family, waiting in long lines for essential goods and services or waiting for the government or other aid organizations to come to your rescue.