BEING PREPARED FOR AN EMERGENCY
by Wanda Lynch
We hear it all the time on the news now. Be prepared, have at least a three days supply of food and water. But how do you go about being prepared? Hopefully this article will give you some ideas and help you be prepared in the event of an emergency.
An emergency can come in many forms--earthquake, power outage, fire, storms, etc. We deal with power outages quite frequently so over the years I have learned to be well stocked up and have several important things on hand. Below is a list of supplies that a home should have on hand at all times, especially people who live out in the country.
1. Water is our main worry when the power goes out. We are on our own well and don't have a generator large enough to pump water. I have learned to keep 50 gallons of water stored in the pump house in jugs and containers. I also have water jugs from the store that I refill as we empty them. Keeping frozen milk jugs of water in the freezer is also handy in case of power outage as they will help keep your frozen food cold! I also buy plastic jugs of juice when on sale to store in the pump house so we have something to drink besides water!
2. Flashlights AND batteries. Always keep a fresh supply of batteries on hand. We had a couple years where we didn't have any power outages and I got a little lax on making sure I had extra batteries. Sure enough, we lost our power for over five days and I didn't have enough batteries. Now I make sure to buy batteries whenever they are on sale.
3. I always have months worth of food but most people don't so be sure to have a supply of food that you can eat that won't require using electricity in case you do lose your power. We have a propane cook stove so I don't have that problem. I wouldn't suggest buying the fancy military food supplies unless you like that kind of food. Having sandwich makings and fruit works quite well. But each person has their own preferences so go by that. I personally feel that a household should have at least a month's worth of food on hand in case of an emergency. And people who live as far out as we do should have more.
4. If you don't have wood heat, you need to be sure to have plenty of extra blankets on hand. These can be purchased at yard sales and don't cost a lot of money. There are some heaters available on the market that don't require electricity to run. Be sure to read the instructions carefully and have proper ventilation! NEVER use barbequers to heat with indoors as you could die from carbon monoxide poisoning!
5. If you take prescription medication, be sure to have at least an extra month's supply of them on hand.
6. First aid kits are important too. We have one that is always supplied with the basics...bandages, tape, splints, ace bandage, gauze, scissors, antiseptic cream, slings, burn medication, and aspirin. This has come in handy more than once!
7. Have emergency numbers handy. I have a list of numbers to call in case of emergency...power company, police, fire, poison control, phone company, etc.
8. If you own electronic phones, make sure you have an old phone handy that doesn't require electricity. I learned that one the hard way! You can usually pick them up at yard sales or second hand stores for only a dollar or so. A good investment!
9. I keep candles, oil lamps, lamp oil, and extra wicks on hand at all times. I also make sure I have boxes of matches to keep with these supplies. I keep the candles and matches in a box stored in our closet. We also have Coleman camp lanterns but I don't like bringing them in the house due to the smell! I like the smaller lamps for inside. My lamps are kept filled at all times and are placed in different rooms in the house. They look decorative but are handy once the lights go out!! I store the extra lamp oil in the pump house.
10. You will want to have a radio with batteries so you can keep up on the latest news and happenings. We own a wind up Beijing radio for that use. No batteries required!!
11. If you own a generator, be sure to have extra gas on hand to run it with! If it isn't a diesel one, remember to have an extra spark plug on hand too!
12. Make sure to always have extra food and water for your animals too!
13. We cook with propane, so we have two extra tanks that are kept filled in case of an emergency. When one empties, we automatically fill it up so that we have three 25 gallon tanks filled at all times.
14. Keep a supply of cash on hand too. You might not be able to get to the bank or it might not be open. Keep it in a safe place!
15. I like to keep paper plates and plastic forks, spoons, and knifes on hand so that if we do lose our power and we run short on dish water, I won't have to worry about it! We can just throw these away.
16. We try to keep our vehicles with at least a half a tank of gas or more. If we need to leave in a hurry, we don't want to have to worry about not having enough gas!
17. Think ahead and have an escape route planned and practiced with your family!
18. If you have infants or elderly to care for, be sure you ALWAYS have extra supplies for them...medication, diapers, formula, oxygen (if you have a loved one that is on oxygen or any type of support that requires electricity, you may need to purchase a generator depending on the type of oxygen or support being used).
This is just a sample of things that help a family to be prepared. Every home is different and has different requirements. Stop and think about what it is you use every day and make a list. Go over that list and decide what it is you need and put that plan into action. The sooner the better so that one day you don't wish you had been better prepared!
I have heard the news talk about the duct tape and plastic and don't know how I feel on that. Personally, we aren't too worried about that part due to how far out we live and the fact that our exposure is probably minimal. Each person must decide for themselves what to do though. But once you make your decision....ACT ON IT!