We live in a “get it now” society. Amazon.com has a service that will deliver select items within two hours of being ordered. It is hard to think of what we might need if an emergency were to happen.
Being prepared to live without access to the bank, grocery store, or electricity for a few days is a good plan for everyone. You never know what might come up.
Better safe than sorry
The phrase “better safe than sorry” has been around since the 1800s. Here are a few reasons it is better to be prepared than sorry you didn’t:
- Ice and snow storms that leave people trapped in their houses for days with or without power.
- Hurricanes such as Katrina or Irene that devastate entire areas for years
- City water supplies and rivers that become contaminated due to some EPA or industrial mishap
- Tornadoes that plow through cities and towns
- Identity left that can leave you without funds in bank and credit card accounts
If you are living day to day without any emergency supplies at home, here is a simple list to help you get started.
A very simple and smart step to start on is to make copies of your important documents:
- home insurance
- car insurance
- health insurance cards
- driver’s license
- birth certificates
- account numbers
- credit card information
Make a couple physical copies; you should give one to a family member who lives a distance from you and keep one in the house.
If your home were to burn down, you’d have all your information at your relatives’, and you’d have the appropriate numbers to call, account information, etc.
If you need to leave your home in a hurry, due to a storm or wildfire, keep this packet handy to take with you.
The most likely emergency a family anywhere might face is dealing with a power outage.
I recommend storing a couple flashlights and extra batteries. The last time our power went out, we used these little solar-powered, inflatable lamps and loved them. You put them in the sun when you get them. Then store them flat until you need them.
When the power goes out, you also start using your cell phone for both calling and entertainment. We also have a solar powered cell charger that will charge our phones or any other device that uses a USB.
You can’t live without water for very long and with recent toxic spills being in the news, it is wise to have water on hand in your home. If a storm, or a toxic leak happens in your area, the stores might be out of water by the time you get there.
We purchased several camping water jugs and keep them in a downstairs closet.
The Red Cross recommends a gallon a day for each family member for at least three days and up to two weeks if you have the storage.
If you don’t have room to store water, or only have room for a three-day supply, you could buy every family member a purifying water straw which will filter water as you drink it. They are very small and easy to store.
Set aside several days worth cash somewhere safe in your home. Recently our credit card was hacked, and we had to wait to receive a new one.
We were able to use our debit card to cover the expenses, but some people have experienced true identity theft and had to contact their bank and credit card companies to stop the thieves.
With cash on hand you have time to contact the bank, have new cards issued, and time for stolen money to be returned to your account.
5. Blankets / firewood
When towns get buried under snow and ice this can cause problems for electricity providers as power lines get knocked down from the heavy weight of ice.
If it is a very cold time of year, and your power goes out, be ready to make your family as comfortable as possible. If you have a fireplace, keep some firewood on hand in case you need to have a fire for a night or two. If you have no fireplace, stock up on blankets and make a plan to stay warm.
Pick the smallest, most internal room and have everyone sleep there.
If you can, of course, go stay with friends or family that have power. Don’t be ashamed to ask. We’ve hosted families twice when they were without power when we had it.
We recently stayed a few months at our lake home which is very remote. It opened my eyes to just how much food my little family of four goes through in a week.
Think on how much your family eats in a week.
- What if a snowstorm kept you in for five days, or two weeks?
- What if the storm happened the day before your weekly shopping trip?
- What if you are single and typically only have three things in your fridge at home?
Most grocery stores have about three days of food on the shelves. They will try to stock up if they know a weather event is coming and you should too. You aren’t likely to starve in your home during a disaster, but going with little for a few days wouldn’t be pleasant.
I’m not going to keep two weeks’ worth of food in my pantry, so we bought some dehydrated food we can use in a true emergency. It will not be the best food on the planet, but it is easy to store and will last for years.
If the power is out, how do you hear what’s going on with the weather or how soon the power will be coming on?
Phones can help, but instead of relying on your phone battery, go ahead and get a NOAA hand crank radio. The radio I’ve linked to can also be used to charge a USB device, like your cell phone.
If you take an important medicine that you shouldn’t skip, try to stay on top of your refills, so you always have a several-day supply. You can also keep a first aid kit in the house, which can be handy all the time and not just in emergencies.
If a hurricane or flooding is approaching, everyone in your area is likely going to try and be leaving the city at the same time. It is good to know your area and possibly map out a few escape routes as necessary.
You can use the maps on your phones, but having a detailed street map and a plan to get out of town on less traveled roads could save you hours in traffic and a miserable time in the car.
Plus if you can’t get cell phone service, how will you know where to go?
10. Car cellphone charger
We’ve talked a lot about chargers, but cell phones are our trusty assistants. Don’t get stuck in an emergency and not have your cell available.
In Atlanta last winter, the entire city was trapped by a fast approaching ice storm. People were trapped in their cars on the highway for six to eight hours. One of my friends had not moved in several hours and decided to get out of the car and walk the last four miles home.
If you are in an ice storm or evacuation situation or even if your car breaks down, have a cell phone charger in the car so you can call someone or use your apps.
With this simple list of ten items, you will have food, water, lights and access to information during any emergency. Take these simple steps to safeguard you and your family. Better safe than sorry!