Family Preparedness

For a long time I’ve been considering how to be prepared for emergencies.  Until now my time has been dedicated to work and keeping my life, home and family running.  I say ‘until now’ because I am unemployed at the moment.  But, I do have time to think about this stuff now …

Emergencies are not just catastrophic events.  Unemployment could be an emergency situation.  In that light I think we can all feel safe about thinking along the lines of emergency preparedness without worrying about other people calling us ‘wacko survivalists’.  Besides, you’re only paranoid when you’re wrong!

FEMA has some good stuff that fell in line with the direction I was going so I’ll give out some props to them:  http://www.fema.gov/plan/index.shtm

So far I have created the following documents because I felt FEMA’s stuff was not well formatted or as inclusive as it should be.  When I get done I’ll post some templates of what I made.

  • Family Communication Worksheet and Plan
  • Family ID cards and important information
  • Supply lists and locations
  • Food rotation tracking check list

WATER:  I got a 30 gallon, food grade plastic (BPA free) drum for water storage.  You can also get a ‘tap’ for your water heater but I did not want to go that route for now.  The 30 gallons of water should be OK stored for 6-12 months easy with chlorine or iodine treatment.  My plan was to fill the drum up with filtered city water, treat it with iodine, and store it in my basement for a while.  Then, when we want to drink it, I’d filter it again.  The water we’d use out of out of it for bathing or washing dishes would not require filtering again.  30 gallons should last my family of 3 for more than a week.  After that we can store good water in smaller jugs/buckets/etc and gather rain water with the 30 gallon drum.  We also have a portable water filter that works great (it’s an MSR).

FOOD:  I got a few 5 gallon food grade plastic buckets and some of these gamma bucket lids; the lids make the buckets water/air tight.  Also got some oxygen absorbers.  We eat a lot of rice so one bucket will be for rice.  Another bucket will have pasta and cereals in it and another will have misc things like nutrition bars, seasoning, oils, dehydrated food bags, vitamins, etc.  We’ll also rotate soup cans, veggie cans and the like.  That does it for our short term food supply.  For long term food requirements I’m not decided yet – likely #10 cans of stuff and dehydrated food stuff.

DURABLE SUPPLIES:  We already have good camping gear if it comes to that but I also got some other supplies; nylon rope, pry bar, whistles (with a light, compass, etc), wrench and pliers, siphon pump, utility cutter, etc.  We already have a hand crank emergency radio, a bunch of flash lights and a rotation of batteries.  I would like to get portable solar panels and some other way to get electricity.  I actually found a site where you can buy an exercise bike that’s integrated with a dynamo.  Kinda coolio.

CONSUMABLE SUPPLIES:  Never under estimate the value of a good first aid kit:  gauze, tape, antibiotic ointment, sterile bandages, saline wash, iodine, ace bandages, stainless steel scissors, thermometer, blood pressure cuff, stethoscope.  Also include tylenol/asperine and any special stuff for your own medical needs.  Of course this next list could go on forever, but I think this covers the basics; water proof matches and regular matches, water purification tablets, replacement water filters, mess kits, sewing kit, candles, portable shower and portable toilet, can opener, and stuff for your pet if you so desire.

IMPORTANT REFERENCE MATERIAL:  Do not under estimate the value of a first aid book.  With that said I’m including copies of all our keys, a list of our combinations and codes (garage code, vehicle codes), pictures of family and pets, pictures of the house and all our belongings, maps of the area and directions to important places, mobile phone chargers and cables and a cheap/old laptop.  Financial documents are important too so I have a list of all of our bank accounts and credit cards as well as all of our insurance policies.  Also have copies of insurance policies and the like.

MISC GOOD STUFF:  If you own a house you should know how to shut off all of your utilities; water, gas, electric, etc.  Once you know how document how to do it and keep it with your kits.  I also have some directions on how to make water drinkable using iodine and chlorine tablets/drops.  I will be using the Rotation Chart I made to track the stuff that needs to get rotated (nothing lasts forever) and the chart will be with all the kits.  The plan will be to buy 2 of everything we use on a monthly basis and then start rotating them as a part of monthly shopping

HOME AND VEHICLE KITS:  I have the full kits for the basement and a trimmed down version for the van.  I also leave food and water out of the van-plan for now as it’s not very maintainable.  I’m thinking that if we have time to run out to the van and get in and drive away we can take an extra 60 seconds to grab some food and extra supplies from the basement.  This means that the basement storage area for this stuff is easily accessible and clearly marked.

KEY STEP TO INCLUDE:  I need to practice this stuff with my family.  Kids love this type of thing because it’s different than all the other crap in our daily lives.  So we’ll talk about the supplies and the lists and information and we’ll go over the ID cards and what they mean.  Some of the aspects that I do not have done in this area are things we should come up with as a family anyway; escape routes, emergency meeting locations, where shelters are (schools, work places) and what we should all be doing and thinking when the shit hits the fan some day.

LAST NOTE:  I have a firm belief in the Second Amendment – our right to bear arms.  So I am also making plans to keep my pistols in this emergency loop.  I have a carry permit for Minnesota and Utah (so I can carry in +90% of states that have CCW).  I know at least one pistol is on me at all times.  My only real accommodation in the emergency planning is for ammunition storage.

Cash is another good thing to set aside.  I’m not sure how much but I’m thinking about $100 will do it; two $20 bills, three $10 bills, two $5 bills, ten $1 bills, and $10 in quarters.  Half of this for the van-cash-stash.

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