Getting Prepared | 11 Months Of Prepping, One Month at a Time

Gaye Levy, Contributing Writer

Activist Post


Getting Prepared: 11 Months of Prepping, One Month at a Time

Once the prepping bug hits, it is easy to want to go for it.  You know what I mean:  Let’s do it and let’s do it all Right Now!

There are some problems with this.  First there are time constraints and second there are money and budget issues.  But the biggest problem and undoubtedly the one that is overlooked in the initial flurry of readiness preparations, is that without reasonable care and thought given to the process, the tasks and the actual products involved, you can make some costly mistakes.  I say this from experience.  In my haste to get “stocked up” I bought gear that I don’t like and will never use.  I purchased foodstuffs I will never eat.  Jeesh.

Stupid stupid stupid of me.  I should have taken my time, done my research, and made a well thought out and educated decision before I even got started.

Today I would like to help you break down the overwhelming task of emergency preparation by providing  you with a month by month calendar of things to do, tasks to complete and items to purchase.  For the newbies, this gives you a manageable number of things to do in a short period of time.  Instead of looking at a task list 10 pages long, you have a short list that is eminently doable in 30 days or less.

And for the more experienced prepper?  You can start with month #1, look at the activities and tasks involved and fill in any gaps you may have in your own preparation.  In some cases you may see a need to update or rotate what you have on hand and in others, you may find the need to practice a particular skill.

I love lists.  So bear with me as I present a readiness calendar to guide your through twelve months of prepping.  Hopefully you will find that one month’s work is not too costly, not too time-consuming and not too difficult.  The most difficult part as I see it will be getting off your bum and starting.

So let’s do it!



  • Water-3 gallons per person and per pet
  • Hand-operated can opener and bottle opener
  • Canned meat, stew, or pasta meals – 5 per person
  • 2 flashlights with batteries


  • Inventory the disaster supplies you already have on hand, including your camping gear
  • If you fill your own water containers, mark them with the date they were filled
  • Date cans of food and food containers if you have not already done so



  • Canned vegetables – 4 per person
  • Toilet paper – 3 rolls per person
  • Sanitary napkins – 2 months’ supply
  • Instant drinks (coffee, tea, powdered soft drinks)
  • Family sized first aid kit


  • Change the batteries  and test your smoke detectors.  Purchase and install smoke detectors if you don’t have them
  • Make an inventory of home contents for insurance purposes. Take photographs (digital are easiest) of your house and contents. Store a copy away from your home.



  • Canned fruits – 3 cans per person
  • Any foods for special dietary needs (enough for 3 days)
  • A large plastic tub or bin for storage of food and other emergency supplies.


  • Conduct a home fire drill
  • Locate the gas meter and water shutoff points and attach/store a wrench or shutoff tool near them.  Also store special shutoff instruction, if any.
  • Establish and out-of-state contact to call in case of an emergency
  • Identify a location for your storage of plastic bin or tub.



  • Extra baby bottles, formula and diapers if needed
  • Extra pet supplies; food, collar, leash, etc.
  • A stash of at least $100 in small bills – more if  you can afford it
  • Begin to stockpile extra supplies of critical prescription medications. Talk to your pharmacist for help in making this happen.


  • Place a supply of prescription medicine(s) in a storage container and date the medicine(s) if not already indicated on its label
  • Start putting supplies in storage container(s) and include blankets or sleeping bags for each family member



  • Canned, ready-to-eat soup – 4 per person
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Plain liquid bleach
  • Portable am/FM radio with batteries
  • Liquid hand soap and hand sanitizer
  • Disposable hand wipes
  • Disposable latex or nutile gloves


  • Make two photocopies of important papers and put one in the storage container, and one away from your home.
  • Talk with neighbors about organizing a neighborhood preparedness group.



  • Box of granola or power bars – 1 per person
  • 6 rolls of paper towels
  • Box of N-95 or N-100 face masks – 1 per person.


  • Check to see if stored water has expired and needs to be replaced
  • Put an extra pair of eyeglasses in the supply container
  • Find out about your workplace disaster plans and the disaster plans at your children’s schools



  • NOAA Alert Weather Radio
  • ABC fire extinguisher
  • Jug of juice – 1 per person
  • Adult and children’s vitamins
  • A pair of pliers and/or vise grip
  • 100 feet of rope or paracord


  • Take a first aid/CPR class
  • Show family members where and how to shut off utilities



  • Box of crackers or graham crackers – 1 per person
  • Dry cereal or instant oatmeal – 1 weeks’ worth per person
  • 1 box of large, heavy-duty garbage bags


  • Make a small preparedness kit for your car. Include food, water, blanket, small first aid kit, a list of important phone numbers
  • Secure water heaters to wall studs (if not already done)



  • Extra batteries for flashlights, radio and hearing aids (if needed)
  • Duct tape
  • Add an additional 3 days of water to your supply per person and per pet


  • Follow up on efforts to organize your neighborhood
  • Conduct an earthquake drill at home: stop, drop and hold, then go outside. (Remember, and earthquake can happen anywhere as recent events have demonstrated.)
  • Replace prescription medicines as required by expiration dates



  • Take the month off from purchases. Yay!


  • Secure shelves, cabinets and drawers to prevent them from falling and/or opening during earthquakes
  • Imagine your house with no electricity. What more do you need?



  • Package of paper plates
  • Package of napkins
  • Package of eating utensils
  • Package of paper cups


  • Exchange work, home and emergency contact phone numbers with neighbors for use during an emergency


  • Heavy work gloves
  • Begin to try to expand your food supply to twice of what you have on hand right now. Continue with this effort into coming 12 months.


  • Check to see if your stored food and water needs to be replaced.

Congratulations.  You have completed your year of preparations.  Now is a good time to go back to month 1 and review, replenish, rotate and drill.  Good job!

The Final Word

Once a month for the next twelve months I will feature an article devoted exclusively to the monthly tasks at hand including suggested activities, recommended purchases, viable alternatives, budget saving strategies and references to more reading material.  Sometime I may deviate from the list a bit and other times I may enhance it.

The final word for today is this:

Emergency preparation is your journey and should be unique to your circumstances, your family, your geographical location and your financial resources.  Yes, it can be a chore.  But as I have said before, it should be a chore with a happy ending.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!




Getting Prepared Month 1: Supplies, Gear and Tasks to Get You Started

 Today, I explore Month #1 in greater detail.  But before getting started, I want to go back in time and have a chat about what I like to call the Survival Mindset.
The Survival Mindset is a frame of mind whereby daily life is focused on the pursuit of independence and self-reliance.  This focus is done in a non-obtrusive way to the determent of no one and the betterment of everyone.  It is a lifestyle and a commitment to preparedness and to courage.  To optimism and to family values.  Ultimately, it is the will to live and to survive with the knowledge that you have done the very best you can to protect yourself and your family from danger and the woes that come from living in complicated and uncertain times.
What I have just described is the Backdoor Survival and SurvivalWoman mindset.  And while I would like to think that it is the very best description out there, I am not arrogant enough (well, maybe just a little) to think that what works for me will work for everyone.  But – and you know how I like to do this – whether you are an experienced prepper or a newbie that is just beginning to get your toes wet, you need to think about your own personalSurvival Mindset and move to a survival place that meets your own needs.

Nuff’ said.  I don’t want to lecture and surely, you are here to learn about Month #1.  To summarize, here is what month 1 is about from the very highest level:


  • Water-3 gallons per person and per pet
  • Hand-operated can opener and bottle opener
  • Canned meat, stew, or pasta meals – 5 per person
  • 2 flashlights with batteries
  • Inventory the disaster supplies you already have on hand, including your camping gear
  • If you fill your own water containers, mark them with the date they were filled
  • Date cans of food and food containers if you have not already done so

Let’s talk about water first.  Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with an unquenchable thirst?  That thirst is a signal that your body is dehydrated and is lacking a sufficient quantity of fluids to function.  When this occurs, the blood in your body is compromised.  More succinctly, it gets completely whacked out.  And the result?  In addition to increased thirst, dry mouth & throat and chapped lips – all of which are annoying – there is a risk of lethargy, dizziness,  decreased urine output, constipation, migraine headaches, wild fluctuations in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and ultimately, lack of consciousness.  Much more, at this point, than a mere annoyance, this can, in fact, be life threatening.

So how bad really is dehydration?  Back in 2001 I ended up being carted to the hospital by the local EMTs as a resulted of dehydration caused by food poisoning.  Survival Husband thought he was losing me; it was not a pleasant experience.

So yes, think about water storage now and make it your number one priority.

There are are lot of ways to store water.  You can purchase a 55-Gallon Barrel, you can stock up on bottled water, or, if money is tight and you are willing to do a little work, you can clean and fill some empty soda bottles with water from your tap and store them someplace cool and protected for up to six months.  I have written an article on do-it-yourself water storage which you can go back to if you need some guidance with your water storage: A water freak: How to store water for emergency short term use.

The next items on the list are related:  canned goods and a manual can opener.  The goal here is to put  away some food items that you enjoy, that require minimal cooking, are tasty and – here is the rub – are  calorie dense.  This is not the time to worry about the very best in low fat, diet-friendly foods.  What you are looking at are foods that are going to feed your body with energy.

Have you ever analyzed the contents of M.R.E.’s?  (If you are not familiar with that term, M.R.E. stands for “Meal ready to eat” such as the precooked and prepackaged meals used by military personnel in combat.)  Many such meals seem tiny in quantity by today’s standards and yet the total calorie count, per meal, is 1,200 calories or more.  Personally, that is my own daily calorie allotment so if ate two or three a day – oh my -I think you get the point.

The moral of this lesson is that in a crisis or emergency situation, your body needs fuel and fuel means calories.  As you are planning your canned food storage items, think calories and lots of them.
Canned Food
One of the easiest ways for a beginner to tackle the canned food storage task is to open up their cup board or pantry and raid the contents.  And for the more experienced prepper?  You are still going to want to take a peek in your cupboards and take a look at the foods you are currently eating and hopefully enjoying.  Have you included these with your existing supplies?  What better time than now than to go take a look.  Pick and choose some new items and add them to what you already have.

Here are some of the canned and prepared food items that I personally have stored away in my survival pantry:

  • Canned chicken
  • Canned tuna (purchase pre Fukushima)
  • Canned Soups
  • Canned beans
  • Canned chili
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Peanut Butter

The last items on our Month 1 gear and supplies list are flashlights and batteries.  This is one area where you are going to want to do a bit better than your 99 cent flashlight from the Dollar Store.  Not that I don’t love those little LEDs that cost just a few bucks each but in a power outage, you are going to need something a bit more powerful.  I like a Maglite (which could also being used to bonk someone in the head but that is another story) or a tactical flashlight.  And batteries.  Lots of batteries.

It is all well and good that you are a good steward of our planet and use rechargeable batteries but trust me, in a power out, grid down situation, you will be thankful that you have a healthy supply of standard Eveready’s.

Let us move on the Month 1 Tasks, the first of which is to inventory your existing supplies, including camping gear.  What I did when I first got started prepping is walk around the house, the yard and the garage, taking note of the items I had on hand that could be used if the power were out, if a natural disaster or storm shut down the roadways, or if there was some other crisis.  Here is a starter list of things to check on:

  • First aid supplies
  • Warm blankets
  • Outdoor cooking facilities
  • Cooking fuel
  • Knives, hatchets and saws (for cutting away brush)
  • Hiking boots
  • Self-powered radio gear
  • Sleeping bags & tents
  • Lanterns
  • Firearms and self defense items

Remember, at this point we are merely taking an inventory so you can assess any gaps in your gear and think about making a purchase of those missing items in the ensuing months.  The list of what you have will probably be different from the list above as will, ultimately, the list of what you need.  The important thing is to know what you already have and also the condition it is in.  This will insure that the money you spend down the road is well spent on items you need and not duplicates of items you already own.  Also, once you have taken an inventory, you can watch for deals and sales on those very same items.

Another task for month 1 is to get out those Sharpie’s and mark the date you fill the water containers or put the food aside for emergency use.  Now some will argue that you should mark everything with the expiration date but to me, you need a PhD is code breaking to understand those expiration dates that appear on cans and packaged food.  I feel you are much better served by focusing on an effective rotation system – first in first out as us accountant’s like to say.

The Final Word for Month #1

The very first month in implementing your plan to be prepared does not have to be difficult, nor does it have to be time consuming or unnecessarily expensive.  Please, whatever you do, do not get frustrated.  There is a lot of support out there in the online community to help you get going.
And for the not-so-newbie?  What better time than now to go back and review your progress and perhaps share your experience with an unenlightened family member or a favorite friend.  Send them a copy of this article and help them formulate their own Survival Mindset.  Be gentle with them if they don’t at first understand.  In the long run, they will thank you.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Getting Prepared Month 2: First Aid, Personal Hygiene and Home Safety

A couple of months ago I presented a calendar for family preparedness.  In 12 Months of Prepping, One Month at a Time, I laid out month by month tasks and was able to breakdown the overwhelming chore of preparing for an emergency in manageable and affordable chunks.  Today, I explore Month #2 in greater detail.

But first, let me step back and remind you of one of the most easily justifiable reasons why you should prepared:  unpredictable weather.  Storms. tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and other wonky weather patterns can disrupt you, your home and your life in a heartbeat. Take a look at the picture above taken after the October 25th storm and floods that hit Italy’s Cinque Terre and you will get my point.

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist, a political dissenter or even a dissatisfied and disillusioned citizen to know that the forces of mother nature will – at one time or another – require you to tuck in and rely on your own resources to get by.  If you are lucky, you will only need to get by for a few days but alas, the aftermath of some weather systems may require you to fend for yourself for a week or longer.

And so, in this month-by-month preparedness series, review your existing preparations and make sure these basics are covered.  And if you are just beginning to prep, breathe a sigh of relief.

The tasks in any one month will not be too difficult nor too expensive and, at the end of twelve months, you and your family will be prepared.

Are you ready to get started with Month #2 preps?


  • Canned vegetables – 4 per person
  • Toilet paper – 3 rolls per person
  • Sanitary napkins – 2 months’ supply
  • Instant drinks (coffee, tea, powdered soft drinks)
  • Family sized first aid kit

Last month we started our food storage with canned meats and prepared foods.  This month we add the variety and increased nutrition that comes from canned veggies. There is only one rule of thumb here:  only purchase and only store veggies that you enjoy and veggies that you will actually eat.  Hate spinach?  Notwithstanding that spinach greens are a powerful superfood, if you or your family don’t like it, don’t store it.  Storage space is too precious to waste.

In addition to veggies, we are adding some instant beverages to our food stores.  Pick your poison:  instant coffee, herbal or flavored teas, hot chocolate or, a personal favorite, a few bottles of wine or even some whiskey or rum.  Okay, so the wine and whiskey are not technically instant, but they require no special preparation so I am including them here for use at your own discretion.

Don’t forget the kiddos.  Kool-Aid, tang or some of the powerhouse drink powders especially geared for the young ones are a must – just make sure that you also store away a bit of sugar if needed when reconstituting the final product.  Something else to keep in mind is that a spoonful of one of these instant drink mixes can make otherwise “off-tasting” stored water more palatable.

The Often Overlooked Personal items

Now here’s the rub.  Colleagues of mine will carefully package and store food, water, ammo, family communication plans, flashlights, batteries and all sorts of gear.  But ask if they have some tissues to blow there nose or to, well, maintain hygiene after taking care of business, I will be given a blank stare.

If you do nothing else this month, pack away toilet paper, sanitary supplies for the ladies, Kleenex, deodorant, toothpaste, floss and a toothbrush for each member of your family.  And while you are at it, a wash cloth or two and a bar of soap will be much welcomed additions to your gear bag.  Oh, and also some condoms if you are so inclined.

A Family-Sized First Aid Kit

When putting together a first aid kit, you can purchase and all-in-one kit, set it aside and you are good to go.  That is the easy way to go, and options start at a very reasonable $25 all the way up to $100, $200 and more.  If you decide to go this route, check out the reasonably priced Adventure First Aid Kit 2.0 (about $20) or the more comprehensive Adventure Medical Kits Weekender Kit(about $75).

Another option – and this is what I did – was to pull together the first aid supplies yourself, adapting to the needs of your family, their age, and the types of calamities that are likely to occur in your particular area.

320px First aid kit for tropical country   unpacked Getting Prepared Month 2: First Aid, Personal Hygiene and Home Safety

Here is my list along with a use for each of the items:

  • Alcohol: Disinfecting, cleaning wounds. Alcohol wipes are also good, but you run the risk of opening the little packet and finding that it is dry as a bone.
  • Bandages: Preferably waterproof in a variety of sizes including extra large for big scrapes.
  • Ace bandages: Sprains
  • Vaseline: One of my favorite frugal but effective remedies. Chapped lips, cracked skin, overall extra duty moisturizer
  • Neosporin or other Antibiotic Ointment: For killing bacteria and soothing cuts. Note: antibiotic ointments have a shelf life and should be replaced annually.
  • Cortisone cream: Rashes, skin irritations, itching.
  • Acetaminophen & ibuprofen: Aches, pains, fever.
  • Benadryl (oral) or generic equivalent: Oral antihistamine for allergies and allergic reactions.
  • Antibiotics: My doctor recommends Cipro as the very best all-purpose antibiotic. It is very cheap, but effective for a wide variety of ailments.
  • Imodium or other anti-diarrheal: Ummm, I think you know what this is for. Can also be used on your dog.
  • Tweezers: Removing splinters.
  • Nail Clippers: Lots of uses including split nails, hangnails, clipping dead skin.
  • Tums or other Antacid: Indigestion.
  • Cough Syrup: Cold remedy.
  • Digital Thermometer: This will let you know when it is time to call for medical help.
  • First Aid Book: Not crucial, but a nice addition for those times when you simply do not know what to do.

Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive, trauma-oriented kit that might be required in the case of a huge natural disaster. Instead, these are the items that will be useful if I am required to be cooped up in isolation for a week or two — or while vacationing, camping. traveling, or simply waiting out the latest winter storm.

  • Change the batteries and test your smoke detectors. Purchase and install smoke detectors if you don’t have them.
  • Make an inventory of home contents for insurance purposes. Take photographs (digital are easiest) of your house and contents. Store a copy away from your home.

Smoke detectors are not set it and forget it.  Like all pieces of survival gear, they need to be tested.  This means getting out a ladder and pushing the test button to make sure it is working properly.  It also means changing the batteries annually.

Ask yourself if you have an adequate number of smoke detectors.  One should be placed on every level of your home, with the most important location being near the bedrooms.  Better yet, place asmoke alarm inside every bedroom, as well your kitchen and any room with a fireplace or wood stove.  Also, did you know that virtually every recognized fire authority recommends the installation of both ionization and photoelectric alarms in order to maximize protection from either flaming or smoldering fires?

And while you are at it, check your Carbon Monoxide detectors and replace their batteries as well. Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced when any fuel is incompletely burned.  Sadly, about 150 people die each year from non-fire, carbon monoxide poisoning associated with home fuel-burning heating equipment.  This is preventable with a $30 detector.

The last task this month will be to walk around your home and inventory the contents for insurance purposes.  Grab your digital camera and take lots of photos.  Almost every digital camera these days also has video function, so a quick pan around each room will help substantiate not only what you own, but also the quality of your furnishing, fixtures and cabinetry.  Store the photos and video on a flash drive and you will be way ahead of the curve if disaster strikes and you need to file an insurance claim.

The Final Word for Month #2

Being prepared has gone mainstream.  I recently saw a newsletter published by a local assisted living facility, and there it was:  prepping tips for seniors living in a sheltered, highly supervised assisted living facility.  I also saw where our local drugstore was stocking all-in-one 72-hour kits.

This is a welcome breath of fresh air.  No longer viewed as the purview of wannabe Rambo’s and Nut Jobs, survivalists have now been gentrified and are called preppers.  Personally?  I don’t care who or what they are called.  The important thing is to get ready and be ready.  And doing so one month at a time makes it easy!


Friday, December 9, 2011

Getting Prepared Month 3: Special Foods, Fire Drills and Home Safety

The holidays are upon us but, alas, the task of successfully preparing our homes and families for an emergency is ongoing and does not end just because the calendar indicates a special day is coming up.

Today, surrounded by the warmth and cheer of the December holiday season, I present Month 3 of 12 from 12 Months of Prepping, One Month at a Time.

Let’s start with the supplies and gear.

Month 3 Supplies & Gear:
  • Canned fruits – 3 cans per person
  • Any foods for special dietary needs (enough for 3 days)
  • A large plastic tub or bin for storage of food and other emergency supplies

By now you should have a good supply of basic foods put away including protein items such as canned meats as well as veggies.  This month we add fruits as well.  Why?  Well for one thing, fruits add additional nutrients, variety and interest to your meals.  But perhaps equally important, fruits add a touch of sweetness to daily fare.  You may not think this is important when you are in survival mode, but the sweetness provided by canned fruits can kick start sluggish and depressed appetites and bring a smile to the face of weary family members, especially children.

 In addition, fruits add fiber – yes even canned fruits.  It is true that in many cases, it is the fruit’s skin that contains most of its fiber content.  And, since many fruits are peeled before they are canned, the fiber content may not be as great as fresh fruit.  On the other hand, using peaches as an example, two canned peach halves contain 1.4 grams of fiber, versus 2.3 grams for a whole peach.  Not a bad trade-off considering fresh fruit will be hard to come by in an emergency.

Do keep this in mind:  pineapple and apricots do not lose of any their fiber content during the canning process.

In addition to fiber, fruits provide an extra dose of hydration through their water content.  The only caveat is this:  instead of purchasing fruits stored in a heavy syrup, choose products packed in their own juice or water.  Or, better yet, can your own fruits when fresh fruit supplies are abundant!

One last thing before moving on:  A study by the University of Illinois Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition found that some canned fruits provide as much dietary fiber and vitamins as the same corresponding fresh fruits and in some cases, even more. Specifically, here is what they said:

Dietary Fiber – Many fruits and vegetables are important sources of dietary fiber. The canning process does not affect fiber content, making them comparable to fresh and frozen varieties. In fact, the heating process appears to make the fiber more soluble and, therefore, more useful to the body.

Something often overlooked when storing foods for an emergency are those special dietary items required for infants, children, the elderly or those with allergies or intolerances.  My suggestion here is again, purchase for long-term storage items that you already consume, or, if you are unfamiliar with an item, pick some up for current use and see how you like it.  Find some canned and dried goods that your kids will actually eat – as is – right from the can.

Now I know that this may take some trial and error, but the moment is now, while you are not under pressure, to incorporate some new foods into the diet so that you can be sure that all members of your family will get adequate nutrition and calories when and if the time to dip into the emergency stash arrives.

6479627647 2a4de9719c Getting Prepared Month 3: Special Foods, Fire Drills and Home Safety
Finally, keep your eye out for the post-holiday sales on storage bins.  Often these bins are sold for half price or less in late December or early January.  Last year, I picked up some large bins for $4.00 a piece.  And this year I will buy more.

Let us move on to the activities we need to take care of during the current month.

Month 3 Tasks:

  • Conduct a home fire drill.
  • Locate the gas meter and water shutoff points and attach/store a wrench or shutoff tool near them. Also store special shutoff instruction, if any.
  • Establish an out-of-state contact to call in case of an emergency.
  • Identify a location for your storage of plastic bin or tub.

Fire Drills are Not Just for Kids

Do you remember the fire drills you used to have in school?  Well if you are like me, it has been years (if ever) since you conducted a fire drill in your home.  Think about this:  it is 2 AM and your smoke detector goes off.  Do you know what to do?  Experts say that you have one to two minutes to get out of the house to safety. Could you and all of your family do that? And what if there is smoke?  Most deaths in fires aren’t from the flames, but from smoke inhalation.

I think you get the point.  Plan an escape route now.  Be sure to take into account second-story bedrooms, and, if necessary, purchase an emergency escape ladder.  Consider various scenarios and the the obstacles you will face in getting out of harm’s way.  Plan now, then practice. Your life and the life of your loved ones may depend upon it.

Utility Precautions and Safety in an Emergency

When disaster strikes, it often affects one or more of the utilities in your home, condo or apartment. It is important to know where the main controls are located, and when and how to turn them off.


  • Locate your main electrical switch or fuse panel, and learn how to turn off the electrical power system.
  • If a generator is used as a backup power supply, remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Connect lights and appliances directly to the generator and not to the electrical system.


  • Turn off water at the main meter or at the water main leading into the house. This will prevent contaminated water from entering your water heater and plumbing.
  • Turn off the valve — turn to the right. This will require a special valve wrench, available from a hardware store. Make sure you have the tool readily available.

Sewer system

  • Make sure your sewer system is functioning properly before using it. This will prevent the contamination of your home, and possibly the drinking water supply.

Gas meter

  • Locate your gas meter and valve.
  • Have a wrench immediately available for turning off the gas supply.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas, evacuate immediately and leave the area. Go to where you no longer smell gas. Do not use matches, lighters or open flame appliances. Do not operate electrical switches because sparks could ignite gas causing an explosion.
  • Shut off gas only if you smell gas or hear a hissing noise. Contact the gas company to turn the gas back on.

Who to Call When the Big One Hits

Here in Washington State, we have winter storms, we have floods, and every once in awhile we have earthquakes.  No matter where you live, there is a likelihood – eventually – that some sort of disaster will strike.  When that happens, who will you contact?  Think about that now and establish an emergency contact list so that you have names, phone numbers and email or text addresses ready to go.  Keep this information accessible in an easy to remember location not only for your own use but also for any responders that may need to contact family members with regard to your well being.

Whereas there is no guarantee your home will be left standing, a good place to store this information is taped inside a kitchen cupboard or hallway closet door.  Remember those utilities? Another good spot is next to your water or other utility shut-off since that is one location that is likely to be checked by emergency workers.

Storage and a Bit of Redundancy

The final task for this month is to find someplace accessible to store your bins filled with food and supplies.  The key word isaccessible.  It will do you no good if your emergency bins are located buried under a pile of junk in the garage.  Best to clean out a section of the garage or other storage area now and keep it tidy.  Having stackable bins will help.

Another good idea is to identify more than one storage area so that you can split your stuff up.  This follows the same theory as packing two suitcases when traveling.  If one gets lost, you still have another one to fall back on.  Sounds simple enough, but you would be surprised at how few people think about setting up this type of redundancy.

The Final Word

There is a lot to do in month 3, especially when it comes to safety.  Still, none of the tasks are difficult — the hardest part is setting aside time to get them done.  Any way you cut it, there are 31 days in the month.  Break down the list, keep it simple, and begin today.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Getting Prepared Month 4: Prescription Medicine, Cash, and Things to Keep Us Warm

The cold days of winter are upon us here in the Pacific Northwest, and whereas we have not seen any snow yet, the temperature is frigid, especially if your factor in the wind chill.  Outdoor activities are limited to walks with the dog and not much else.

Preparedness wise, this reminds us that we need to ensure that we have adequate jackets, blankets and warm socks put away in our emergency storage container.

But wait.  I am getting ahead of myself as I present Getting Prepared Month 4 of 12 from 12 Months of Prepping, One Month at a Time.

Month 4 Supplies & Gear:
  • A Minimum of a 7 day Supply of Critical Prescription Medicines
  • $100 (or more) in Small Bills
  • Pet Supplies
  • Infant Supplies
  • Extra Storage Containers

Something often overlooked when putting together emergency supplies is an adequate supply of critical prescription medications.  The reason this is often overlooked (or shall I say a victim of procrastination) is that collecting extra meds is darn tough because most insurance policies only allow a thirty-day supply to begin with.

I have a lot of ideas for getting around this – ideas that I use myself.  Here are two.

1.  Talk to your doctor and request a standalone prescription for a one- or two-week supply of your meds.  Take this prescription to a pharmacy different from your regular pharmacy and do not give them your insurance information.  Pay for these emergency meds out of pocket.

Don’t be a wienie or a cheapskate about this.  Critical medications are going to preserve your health and should not be considered a luxury.

2.  Order your medications from a Canadian pharmacy.  Do not be afraid of this.  Yes, there are some precautions you must take, such as ensuring that the pharmacy is approved by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) but for the most part, this is a safe way to go and you will save major dollars by avoiding the US government and FDA racket with big pharma.

Personally?  I have always ordered my prescriptions from a Vancouver BC based online pharmacy.  I plan to provide more details in a separate article, but in the meantime if you are interested in the name of the pharmacy I use, please email meprivately and I will get back to you with the information in a few days.

So what about some cash?

In great grandma’s day there was the cookie jar.  Yes, it was filled with delicious homemade sugar cookies but also, at the very bottom and hidden away, was some cash.  It was there for a purpose: that rainy day when something was needed and the weekly budget was shot.  In much the same way, you need to put aside at least $100 in small bills for those times when nothing but cash will do.  The need could be as simple as paying someone to help you remove a tree that has fallen on your house during a storm, or it could be as drastic as all ATMs being shut down due to a virus hitting the bank you usually deal with.

Whatever your financial condition, try to build up a stockpile of at least $100, even if you have to do this at the rate of $5 per week.  Eat pasta for dinner (see Clara’s kitchen) or a bowl of soup.  But save up for an emergency.  It is important.

The four-legged family members need supplies and gear as well.  During this fourth month, pick up some extra pet food, as well as a spare collar and, if appropriate, a leash or harness.  Also pack away some baggies or garbage bags for potty-cleanup purposes as well as some disinfectant wipes.  And, finally, make sure that you have copies of your pet’s license information, microchip code, immunization records and other information that will be vital in the event you get separated or must leave your home.  If for some reason you need to move out of your home and into a shelter, having this information may make or break your ability to take your pet with you. 

Get a Free Pet Safety Pack

I also recommend that you order a “Free Pet Safety Pack” from the ASPCA. This kit includes an easy-to-use sticker that will let people know that pets are inside your home.  It will identify your pets to rescue workers, and and will include the types and number of pets in your household, the name of your veterinarian and  your veterinarian’s phone number.

Tip:  If you do evacuate and take your pets with you, write “Evacuated” on the face of the sticker so that rescue workers can move on to help someone else.

Also, I realize that pets are not only of the four-legged, dog and cat variety.  If you have birds, gerbils, snakes, lizards or other pets, plan accordingly.  Spouses and significant others do not count as pets, however.

Supply-wise, the last thing we need to purchase this month are infant supplies such as baby bottles, formula and diapers.  This is pretty self-explanatory, and if you have little ones you know what you need.  If anything, go a bit overboard on supplies for your infant or toddler.  Remember, they are totally dependent on you and may be confused and upset by the turmoil around them.  Now that I think about it, a small teddy bear is a good idea as well.

Now that we have taken care of the supplies and gear, what are the activities for this month?  As with every month, there is nothing too difficult or strenuous.

Month 4 Tasks:

  • Package your prescription medications in a storage container and date for annual rotation purposes.
  • Pack up warm blankets, sleeping bags, socks and other cold weather items.
  • Review your storage area and put stray items in containers that are well marked.

With the emphasis on prescription medications this month, I want to stress the importance of proper labeling.  This includes not only the name of the drug and dosage, but also the date it was packed for storage.

And, of course, being SurvivalWoman, I have a recommendation: for each family member, pack a single-day supply of whatever is required (including vitamin supplements if that is your thing), in a small baggie.  Here is a picture of Survival Husband’s meds:

6671827421 7ab68136d1 m Getting Prepared Month 4: Prescription Medicine, Cash, and Things to Keep Us Warm

The 3 x 3 baggies were purchased for just a few dollars (try Ebay, the dollar store or Amazon) and are really, really handy.  We do this very same thing for everyday use, packaging up 30 days or more at a time.  Plus, think about this.  Remember when I talked about purchasing some extra meds?  Another option for stockpiling is that you can simply make up 1 or 2 packets with each monthly prescription and set them aside for emergency purposes.  At the end of a year you will have a nice little stash.  Now how neat is that?

Keeping warm blankets and clothing is pretty much a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how few people remember to include blankets or sleeping bags with their emergency gear.  When you think about it, though, these are very practical things to have on hand.  If you do have to leave your home – or even if the power goes out or some stranded friend or family member comes to stay – you want to have bedding available, and warm bedding at that.  Sleeping bags are perfect for this purpose (even if they are not the most stylish or glamorous option.)

Of course not everyone can go out and spend $50 to $100 or more for a sleeping bag.  So, for the short term, considerMylar sleeping bags that form to the body while retaining 80% of your body heat.  These can typically be purchased for about $10 each and are well worth the price.

Bins, Boxes and Garbage Bags

Remember last month when you identified someplace accessible to store your stuff?  This month I want you to go have a peek and ask yourself this:  Is everything labeled?  Is the area nice and tidy?  Could you locate a specific item if you were in a hurry?

This month is only month number four, so if you answered “no” to any of these questions, think about the disorganized mess you will have when we get to month twelve.  I want you to take a really critical eye to your storage place and think about the best way to tidy things up.  Put things in bins – or lacking the funds for nice plastic tubs – use carton boxes that are available for free from the grocery store or a business in your area.  Even garbage bags work, especially for soft goods.

The key – and I am a broken record on this point – is to label and then label some more.  I like to use self-stick labels and a Sharpie, but in most cases (except for the garbage bags) you can write on the container itself.

Okay so I got a little bit carried away with the storage and organization task. But truly, this is important advice I still need to take myself. Well, not really since I am a bit obsessed with organization which translates into continually taking a sharp eye to my shelves and cupboards so that I can make them tidier. That, plus my obsession with boxes and those plastic bins you get at the dollar store.

The Final Word

If there was some way to wave a magic wand and say abracadabra the prepping is done I would do so.  But prepping, like all things worthwhile, does not happen overnight.  It takes time to build up the right supplies, and it takes time to tick items off the prepping chore list.

As someone told me a few days ago, “Keep on working if you have a job, but prepare as though you don’t.”  I would like to add the following to those words: 

Prepare as though a disaster will occur next month, but hope and pray that it never really happens.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Getting Prepared Month 5: Sanitation Supplies and Establishing a Community of Like-Minded Folks

The months seem to be flying by.  And as each month passes, I feel a sense of relief that that except for a short burst of extreme winter weather, my household has not had to dig into our emergency supplies for sustenance.
On the other hand, some unexpected personal emergencies have come up, and with them a renewed focus on being prepared not only for the big events in life, but also the smaller events that can turn your world upside down.
What are we doing in month five of 12 Months of Prepping, One Month at a Time?  In Getting Prepared Month 5 we are focusing on cleaning and personal sanitizing supplies and on taking steps to establish a neighborhood community of like-minded folks that are interesting in learning about preparedness.
This is going to be an easy month so let’s get started. 
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Plain liquid bleach
  • White vinegar
  • Empty spray bottle
  • Liquid hand soap and hand sanitizer
  • Bar of soap
  • Disposable hand wipes
  • Disposable latex or nutile gloves
  • Canned, ready-to-eat soup – 4 per person
  • Portable am/FM radio with batteries
It is understandable that food, water and first aid are at the top of everyone’s list when they first start gathering emergency supplies; and to that end, yes we are going to add some food this month.  But before we do so, we need to take a tour around the house and gather up some cleaning and sanitizing supplies.

Why are cleaning supplies important?  Well for one, staying clean is necessary in order to remain healthy.  But perhaps equally important is the sense of calm we feel when we are in a clean environment.  Think about your own living conditions in normal times.  My guess is that you would much prefer to walk into a clean home than one that is littered with dirty dishes, towels, crumbs, dust and heaven forbid, grime and mold.  Just the thought of it makes me want to check in to a nice clean hotel room!

We are not going to go overboard with our initial cleaning supplies – just some dish soap, white vinegar and plain liquid bleach (which also doubles as a sanitizer).  With these items, you can pretty much clean everything with some elbow grease.  You might want to throw some rags into the mix (and of course, my personal favorite is what I like to call “magic rags” but are actually microfiber cloths.  And of course, you can keep those dirty rags clean with some dish soap and a tad of bleach.
And what is with the vinegar, you say?  Add about a quarter to a half cup (no need to measure) into your spray bottle, then top with water and you have an easy, inexpensive and effective household cleaner.

Clean hands are essential to good health

Anyone who has traveled a lot – especially by cruise ship – will know that being in a close environment accelerates the spread of germs from one person to another.  One of the best ways to avoid illness is to keep those hands clean.  For that reason I can not emphasize enough the importance of hand soap, hand sanitizers and some latex or nitrile gloves.
One thing to be aware of when shopping for your sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer is to look for products with an alcohol content of 60% or more – preferably more.  This is not an area to be cheap since the cost of these items is nominal to begin with.  If you are interested in learning more about hand sanitation, I suggest that you go back and read Killing the Cooties-Good Hygiene is a Survival Skill We All Should Practice which was researched and written after I became confused by the various marketing claims of hand sanitation items.
Okay.  So I have drilled you on the importance of cleanliness.  We are now going to take a trip to the grocery or warehouse club and pick up some canned soup.  This time we are going to get four cans per person.   I personally choose the Healthy Choice Chicken Noodle or Chicken and Rice flavors since they are not overly salted, but your mileage may vary.  Pick out something you already eat and enjoy.  Remember, this is not the time to experiment with something new and foreign to your palate.
Speaking of canned soup, I know you have already put away a can opener but is it a good one?  Last night as I was opening up a can of spaghetti sauce, I realized what a job my can opener was (an OXO Good Grips).  A good can opener (versus a lousy one) will set you back maybe ten or fifteen dollars and is well worth it.
And finally, the last item this month is a portable radio plus batteries.  Or, if you can swing the extra cost, a hand crank radio that also works on batteries or by solar power.  I do have two personal favorites:  the Kaito Portable Dynamo & Solar-Powered Radio and theEtón Red Cross Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather. Either one will serve you well but if you can not swing it budget wise, a good portable AM/FM radio can be had for less than $10.

Month 5 Tasks:

  • Make two photocopies of important papers and put one in the storage container, and one away from your home.
  • File an electronic copy of your important papers on a flash drive.
  • Talk with neighbors about organizing a neighborhood preparedness group.
Call me paranoid, but one of my personal fears is not having access to my important documents and papers.  The basics, for me, include copies of my driver’s license, passport, a brief medical history and listing of prescription drugs and dosages, pet vaccination and rabies certificates, and an emergency contact list.  I have copies of all of these items tucked away in my bug out bag, my emergency first aid kit, a relative’s home down in Seattle, and on a flash drive that I carry in my handbag.
Your list may vary, but whatever it is you consider important, just do it!

The Community is Going to Be Important

There are some folks that may not agree with me, but I truly believe that it is better to make friends with your neighbors than to consider them foes.  The more like-minded people you can gather around you the better.  And so, today, I would like to suggest that you reach out to neighbors or others in your community to share preparedness ideas and to perhaps organize a neighborhood preparedness group.
There are a number of reasons why I suggest this.
One important reason for sharing your knowledge with a group is that they will share back, and you will learn so much more than you could on your own.  You will learn what skills they may have that you don’t have, and when the time comes to work together you can spread the burden of chores and duties.  Another important reason is that by being friendly, you will begin to establish a trust that translates into watching each other’s back, keeping a collective eye out for bad guys or simply watching for zombies trying to get to your stuff.
If saving money is important – and these days I don’t know a single person where cost is not a concern – consider the economy of pooling purchases to get a group discount or to save on shipping.  Just last month Survival Husband pooled his ammo purchase at Lucky Gunner with some of his buddies and together they saved over $60 in shipping.  That is significant!
Another savings can be in book purchases.  It may not be a lot, but if you purchase a lot of survival type books, you can create a lending library amongst each other, saving $10 or $20 each time you borrow instead of buy.  The possibilities are endless.
Keep in mind that as you reach out to find like-minded neighbors, you do not have to form a large group. Even four people – two households – can make an effective group.  Start small, and slowly establish trust.  You will not be sorry.

The Final Word

Looking back at the calendar with twenty-twenty hindsight, it would have been so much more logical to start month 1 at the beginning of the year instead of October.  But as with life, we can not turn back the clock and start over.  We can only renew and revisit and keep up our efforts to soldier forward.
Being prepared has become a true adventure for many of us.  And while it may be considered a hobby for some, it is also a necessity.  There is a certain sense of calm that kicks in when you have the knowledge that you are doing what you can to prepare for unpredictable events in life.  Thank you for following along.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Getting Prepared Month 6: Fitness, Energy Bars and Face Masks

As the cold months of winter start to abate, it is easy to turn our thoughts away from preparedness and instead to the springtime pursuits of gardening or simply getting outside and playing in the sunshine.

Perhaps you have a bicycle that has become dusty during the colder periods, or walking shoes that have been sitting idle in the closet.  Before I move on to the specific tasks and goals for month six, I want to remind you that all of these outdoor pursuits are indeed a part of your preparedness journey.

This year, more than any, is the time to start a small vegetable garden so that you can teach yourself the basics of working the soil, planting the seeds, and enjoying the bounty of homegrown food.  The skills you hone now will go a long way toward feeding yourself and your family should there ever be a major disruption in the food supply chain.  Just remember to start small and expect some mistakes and failures along the way.  The results with be worth it.

And what about getting outside, taking a walk or hike, or perhaps a bike ride?  Fitness is also an important aspect of preparedness so yes, go ahead and enjoy the sunshine.  Make it fun and get fit.  I do not need to tell you this because you already know it:  a healthy and fit body will help you sustain the physical and emotional toll of a crisis.

So with that, let us get started on getting prepared month number 6.

Month 6 – Supplies and Gear:

  • Energy or protein bars – 1 per person
  • 6 rolls of paper towels
  • N95 or N100 face masks – 1 per person

There are tow things we all need when our personal lives go upside down, and that is instant gratification and instant energy.  Whereas a candy bar may be the treat of choice, you are far better served by having a high-quality, high-fiber, protein or energy bar.  My personal favorites are Kashi bars, but there are lots of other great choices available.

Whatever you choose, avoid bars with partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and an ingredient list that looks like a chemical factory.  Things to look for are real fruits and nuts and sweeteners such a honey.  Shoot for 6 to 8 grams of protein and at least 4 grams of fiber and you will know you have a quality bar that can substitute for a portable and  transportable meal or snack.  Pick up at least one per person – more if you can afford it.

A few months back we added personal items to our kit (such as TP).  This month we add some paper towels as well.  Normally I am not a big fan of paper towels, since they are wasteful and can be expensive when used constantly.  I actually know some people that go through a roll of paper towels every other day.

Instead of paper towels, I prefer to use rags and especially my beloved magic rags.  But in an emergency situation, the luxury of washing facilities may not be available, and paper towels can serve many useful purposes.  In addition to general cleanup, they can be used as paper napkins or place mats while eating in less-than-sanitary conditions, as a filter to remove sediment before purifying water, as a coffee filter, as a make-shift gauze bandage and more.

As much as I hate the wastefulness, get yourself a half dozen rolls of paper towels and add them to your kit this month.

The last item to be added to your kit in month 6 are face masks.  These are also called “respirators”.  You will find that most preparedness pros will recommend N95 masks. These masks are readily available at a reasonable cost and can be used in a variety of situations.  And they are good to have because they will protect you from spreading your own germs (and disease), as well as from inhaling contaminated and harmful air, vapors, dusts, fumes and gases.

Note:  The ‘N95’ designation means the mask/respirator blocks at least 95% of very small test particles. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of face masks. However, even a properly fitted N95 respirator does not completely eliminate the risk of illness or death.

N95 masks are relatively inexpensive (you can purchase 4 for about $13), but for much greater protection, N100 masks are better.  the N100 filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles versus 95% for the N95.  Furthermore, most are far more adjustable for a good fit and come in a variety of sizes.  The cost is about $15 for 2 masks.

The entire matter of using masks for protection from foul, dirty or contaminated air is beyond the scope of this article; and while this is not medical advice, it only makes good sense to provide a layer of protection between your lungs and harmful or disease-ridden air particles.

Month 6 Tasks:

  • Check on your stored water supply (from month 1).  Replace expired water that you have bottled yourself with a fresh supply.
  • Wear glasses?  Add a pair of eyeglasses or inexpensive readers to your emergency kit.
  • Find out about your workplace disaster plans and the disaster plans at your children’s schools

Remember that water we stored away in month 1? Depending on your storage method, you may need to rotate your supply and replenish with freshly bottled water.  I say this because for many, to save money, water has been stored in well-cleaned and sanitized plastic bottles or other re-purposed containers.  And make no mistake, this is a perfectly acceptable way to store water as long as you set up a rotation program.  You did mark the date on those containers with a Sharpie or other marker, correct?

Now if you stored commercially bottled water, you are okay for now and can wait another six months or even longer if the bottles have been stored in a cool, dark area.

And just a reminder:  use 3 to 5 drops of fresh (meaning not old), unscented bleach per quart or liter of water that is being set aside for storage purposes.  Another hint?  Store the filled bottles in your unused freezer space.  A freezer runs more efficiently when full, plus, the frozen water will help keep the goods frozen for a longer period in the event of a power outage.

Have you even broken or misplaced your eyeglasses?  (And quite coincidentally, I shattered the lenses on my own glasses today.  Luckily I also wear contact lenses.)  If you have, you know what it is like to be unable to see.  Imagine there has been a disaster in your area and you need to evacuate quickly.  You grab the kids, the pets, your go-bag and first aid kit.  Then your glasses fall off and break.

If you already have some extra eyeglasses (even older ones that are not quite “perfect”) now is the time to add them to your kit.  If you can get by with just reading glasses, pick up a pair for each family member.  You can get them for as little as $3 or $4 a pair (try Ebay), but if you find you need them, their value will be priceless.

Knowledge is free and can make the ultimate difference

The final task this month is to go back into planning mode.  If you work outside the home, ask your employer whether they have a disaster plan.  Learn about the emergency exits in your building and go there!  Don’t trust your life on a diagram that you look at once then file away.  Follow the path to escape.  Better yet, find two or three alternate routes as well.

If there is no plan?  Suggest to your HR department that they take some basic steps to ensure the safety of their employees in a disaster and, if necessary, volunteer to help them set up such a plan.

Contact your children’s school or day care center and become familiar with their disaster response policies.  Be sure to establish a back-up plan so that someone is available to pick up and/or care for the kiddos if you are unable to do so. A good idea would be to have the backup person check on them, regardless, just to be sure. You can find more information on this important topic in my article 12 Preparedness Tips for Families with Children.

The Final Word

Your prepping job this month will not take a lot of time or money, but that does not diminish its importance.  Like a well-tuned orchestra, each string, each reed, and each brass horn adds to the symphony, making it better as each component is added to the mix.  And so it is with each task you complete and each skill you learn as you progress along the path of self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

The final takeaway for this month is that in addition to the items listed, go outside and embrace the emergence of springtime (in the northern hemisphere) or fall (in the southern hemisphere). Take some time to smell the roses and make every day a great day.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Getting Prepared Month 7: Gear, Tools and Skills to Save Lives

We have now passed the half-way point and are entering month seven of getting prepared one month at a time.  By now you should be feeling secure in the knowledge that you are ready to beat the odds should a natural disaster or crisis appear in your area.

The gear and tools we are going to purchase this month are lifesaving and useful in many types of situations.  Add to that an essential skill that everyone should learn and we have a two-punch whammy for seeing you through disasters, accidents, health care woes and more.

With that introduction, let’s get started.

Month 7 Supplies & Gear:

  • NOAA Alert Weather Radio
  • ABC fire extinguisher
  • 100 feet of rope or paracord
  • Jug of juice – 1 per person
  • Adult and children’s vitamins
  • A pair of pliers and/or vise grip

Stay Informed No Matter What

I am always surprised at the number of people who do not know what the NOAA Weather Radioservice is all about.  And for some reason, be it  ignorance, embarrassment, or simply ambivalence, they never ask.  It is time to end that.

The NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards system is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office.  This is important because NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It can be your single source for comprehensive weather and emergency information.

Wouldn’t you like to be warned in advance and be informed post-event of critical information following a winter storm, earthquake, hurricane, avalanche, chemical spill, or power outage?  You need a NOAA Alter Weather Radio for that and even more important, you need one that is battery, crank or solar operated.

My personal favorite is the Kaito Voyager but there are numerous others – some at lower prices and other more expensive with more features.  Another option is the Etón American Red Cross Self-Powered Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger for about $34.

Don’t Let a Fire Harm You or Your Loved Ones

The next item of gear we are going to get, if you don’t already have one, is an ABC fire extinguisher.  ABC what, you say?  The ABC designation means that it is a multi-purpose dry chemical type extinguisher good for class A, B, and C type fires.

There is a very informative website, appropriately calledFire Extinguishers 101 that provides the following information:

  • Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics. The numerical rating on these types of extinguishers indicates the amount of water it holds and the amount of fire it can extinguish. Geometric symbol (green triangle).
  • Class B fires involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil. The numerical rating for class B extinguishers indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire it can extinguish. Geometric symbol (red square.
  • Class C fires involve electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires – the risk of electrical shock is far too great! Class C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating. The C classification means the extinguishing agent is non-conductive. Geometric symbol (blue circle).

A Few More Items for Month 7

We are also going to add paracord to your emergency and disaster kit.  Now let me tell you about paracord, since this is very useful stuff that is very inexpensive.  Paracord is a lightweight nylon rope that was originally used in the suspension lines of US parachutes during World War II.  Soldiers, however, found that this miracle rope was useful for far more than their paratrooper missions.  In the ensuing years, both the military and civilians alike have found hundreds if not thousands of uses for paracord.

It is available by length, typically 50 to 100 feet or more and in a variety of colors.  It is also available is large quantities by the spool.  Many hikers and outdoor sports enthusiasts make or purchase “survival bracelets” made of several feet of paracord which is woven into a compact bracelets that can be unraveled in the field.

Paracord can be used for many purposes such as securing things, removing heavy debris and fixed objects, strapping things together, as a harness to escaping a burning building, controlling bleeding as a tourniquet, and the list goes on.

You can even unravel the cord and use the individual strands as a fishing line or as thread to sew on a button.  Wonderful stuff.

By the way, you will often see paracord referred to as Paracord 550 means that it has a breaking strength of 550 pounds or more.

We are not going to leave nourishment off our list this month.

Although fresh fruits and vegetables are always preferable to juices, they do not store well; and in an emergency, juices will not only provide vital nutrients, but also hydration.  Choose from bottled or canned tomato, V8, apple, pineapple or other juices and plan on a minimum of 32 ounces for each person.

Although the standard 46-ounce size juice bottle or can is more cost-effective, depending on your needs, you may find small, single-serving cans more convenient.  Beware, however, of flavored juice-like products that are merely colored and flavored sugar water.  We want some nutrition here!

Note:  if you choose tomato juice and also store a pint or two of spirits, you will be able to make yourself a Bloody Mary – not such a bad idea as long as you remember that moderation is the rule.

One more thing:  it goes without saying that your stored food supplies will provide you with calories and energy to get by. But will they have all of the necessary daily vitamins and minerals? Maybe. Maybe not. For this reason I recommend that you store away a supply of multi-purpose vitamins for a just-in-case scenario. Do this even though you ordinarily do not use supplements. Consider them as an extra layer of insurance.

The last two items before we move on to tasks are a set of pliers or a vise grip (locking pliers).

Chances are you have an extra set of one or the other, but if not, head on over the hardware store and pick up one of these useful tools.  What are they used for?  Among other things you can use them to tighten or loosen bolts, grab onto something where you need extra leverage and manipulate objects that are difficult to handle with the fingers alone.  In a pinch you can use the pliers to crack edible nuts you find while foraging, or crack the shells of clams you find on the beach.

Month 7 Tasks:

  • Take a first aid/CPR class
  • Show family members where and how to shut off utilities

Remember when I said that this month you will learn skills that will save lives?

When disaster strikes, the probability of being injured escalates with the scope of the disaster.  In addition, a serious injury causing loss of breathing increases dramatically.  When this happens, knowing basic first aid and knowing how to deliver CPR can mean the difference between life and death.

Virtually every community offers courses in first aid and CPR.  You can check with your local fire department, community college or Red Cross chapter for courses in your area.

Factoid:  Less than 1/3 of those people who experience a cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public location have CPR performed on them.  Most bystanders are worried that they might do something wrong.  As a result, in 2009 the American Heart Association launched a Hands Only CPR public relations initiative and a website as a means to address this issue.

In addition the Red Cross has a free, downloadable flyer describing Hands on CPR that you can print out and store with your emergency kit for reference.  In addition, the American Heart Association has produced this short video.  You can also visit Hands on CPR for more information.

Don’t Forget the Utility Shut-Offs 

Another thing that happens when disaster strikes is that the utilities go out.  When that happens, it is important to know where the main controls are located, and when and how to turn them off.  Here is a quick reference guide.


  • Locate your main electrical switch or fuse panel, and learn how to turn off the electrical power system.
  • If a generator is used as a backup power supply, remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Connect lights and appliances directly to the generator and not to the electrical system.


  • Turn off water at the main meter or at the water main leading into the house. This will prevent contaminated water from entering your water heater and plumbing.
  • Turn off the valve — turn to the right. This will require a special valve wrench, available from a hardware store. Make sure you have the tool readily available.

Sewer system

  • Make sure your sewer system is functioning properly before using it. This will prevent the contamination of your home, and possibly the drinking water supply.

Gas meter

  • Locate your gas meter and valve.
  • Have a wrench immediately available for turning off the gas supply.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas, evacuate immediately and leave the area. Go to where you no longer smell gas. Do not use matches, lighters or open flame appliances. Do not operate electrical switches because sparks could ignite gas causing an explosion.
  • Shut off gas only if you smell gas or hear a hissing noise. Contact the gas company to turn the gas back on.

The Final Word

With each month. the supplies, gear, tasks and skills you have acquired can be likened to a monthly deposit in to a savings account.  And, as with any investment, the balance grows. In this case, the dividends are paid in the form of increased self reliance and self sufficiency.

There is a commonly used term:  “When the stuff hits the fan” or SHTF.  What makes up this “stuff” can be something as benign as a mild winter wind storm; or something as catastrophic as a massive earthquake and tsunami such as the one that occurred in Japan in March 2011.

In between, there are hundreds of other events that could require that you avail yourself of the preparedness projects you have completed so far.

We have three more months to go, and beyond that we will continue to review, refresh and enhance what we have done so far.  Be proud that you have taken these steps and look forward to a safe – and self-reliant – future.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Getting Prepared Month 8: Adding Supplies, Tasks, and an Emergency Preparedness Kit for Your Vehicle

You may be familiar with the saying “behind the eight ball”. This idiom implies that you are in a tough, difficult or losing position from which it is unlikely to escape.

Now surely that is not someplace that any of us wants to be, and for that reason alone we find justification to prepare. Prepare for what?

Who knows. It might be a major disaster, it might be a personal health or financial crisis, it might be a terrorist attack or it might be the collapse of civilized society as we know it. Whatever the reason, the need to prepare is ingrained in us from the time we reach young adulthood. After all, the very first insurance policy we purchased was our way of saying “I am going to be prepared”.

These days, we cannot count on traditional insurance to keep us safe, to keep us fed, and to keep us sheltered from the storms that are brewing in our world. Instead, it is my belief that we must self-insure by storing away supplies and learning skills that will get us by when going is not so good.

Last September, I laid out a calendar of prepping, 12 Months of Prepping, One Month at a Time. Each month since then, I have outlined a reasonable number of tass to accomplish during the monthly period, and today is no exception. In Getting Prepared Month #8 we continue to fine tune by adding a few more items to our food storage and by putting together a simple, transportable kit that we can keep in our cars.

Are you ready to get started? Let’s start to work on month #8.


  • Box of crackers or graham crackers – 1 per person
  • Dry cereal or oatmeal – 1 weeks worth per person
  • 1 box of large, heavy-duty garbage bags
This month we are going to go easy on the budget and add some inexpensive foods that can be used as either meals, snacks or fillers for both adults and children. We are adding a box of crackers (your choice, classic saltines or graham crackers) for each person in your household. These will provide carbohydrates, calories and in the case of graham crackers, a bit of sweetness during times of distress.

Did you know that crackers were a staple of fallout shelter rations during the Cold War era? The Shelter Management Textbook published by the Office of Civil Defense included the following table:

This table is from the OCD publication SM-16.1 “Shelter Management Textbook” Date July 1967. Table VIII.

1. Crackers or biscuits/from 5 gal can – 6

2. Crackers or biscuits/from 2.5 gal can – 4

3. Wafers/from 5 gal can – 1.5

4. Crackers or biscuits/from 5 gal can – 4

5. Crackers or biscuits/from 2.5 gal can – 3

6. Wafers/from 5 gal can – 1

These days it is difficult to wrap our mind around sustaining oneself on crackers alone, especially since there are so many other readily available, storable foods, and yet as evidenced by the popularity of the Mountain House Pilot bread or Pilot Crackers, these remain a staple in the survival pantry.

Add Some Rib-Sticking Goodness
The second food item we will add this month is cereal with oatmeal, recommended for its superior nutrition and fiber content. Although normally I would recommend getting old-fashioned oats, for short-term emergency purposes, I suggest instant or quick oatmeal instead since it cooks quickly, using just a bit of water and very little cooking fuel. Of course a box of those instant oatmeal packets can be expensive so try this trick for making your own instant oatmeal:

Put a batch of oatmeal (use either Old-Fashioned or Quick) in a blender or food processor, pulse a few times (don’t turn it into powder), and you are good to go. Package it up with some raisins and perhaps a bit of brown sugar and you have instant oatmeal at a fraction of the cost.

To prepare your homemade instant oatmeal, add very hot or boiling water, stir then let sit fir a minute then eat. Yummy.

The Practically Indestructible Garbage Bag
We are also going add a large box of heavy-duty garbage bags to our emergency supplies. The uses for these bags are limitless, but what comes to mind first is using these large bags as a poncho or emergency shelter propped up by sticks or debris.

A heavy duty garbage bag — and I am referring to those large 42 gallon bags not the smaller, lighter weight kitchen bags — also can serve as an emergency toilet. If you are sheltering at home and the sewer system in not functional, merely line your toilet or even a bucket with a heavy duty bag and you are good to go. (Of course it might be good to have some kitty litter to throw in the sack after going potty.)

Need more justification? Thanks to Jessica at SaltnPrepper, for providing these 40 Ways to Use Garbage Bags in Emergencies.

    1. Set Up as a Rain Catcher
    2. Use as a Poncho
    3. Waterproof Shoes by Covering with Bag and Tying Around the Ankle
    4. Emergency Shelter (with multiples)
  1. Fill with Leaves and Climb In for Emergency Sleeping Bag (or sleep on top to use as mattress – keeping the cold ground from sucking the heat out of you)
  2. Store Food In
  3. Use as a Sling
  4. Use as a Swimming Suit so You Keep Clothing Dry (how stylish)
  5. Store Garbage (duh)
  6. Store Toilet Paper and other Paper Supplies to Keep Dry
  7. Use as a Windbreaker
  8. Use as a Sun Jacket
  9. Cut a Strip with Two Slits for Your Eyes and Tie Around Your Face Like Zorro for Make-Shift Sunglasses (it worked for the Inuits, it’ll work for you)
  10. Use as Compression Bandage
  11. Fill with Water for Storage (short term)
  12. Use as Tent Floor/Ground Cloth
  13. Tape Edges of Bag to the Edges of Your Window Frame to Blackout Windows (must be heavy duty to shield light)
  14. Use as a Backpack
  15. Use to Create Shade from Sun
  16. Use as Porta-Sink
  17. Use to Wash Clothes In
  18. Mix Ingredients for Cooking In It
  19. Seal Off Room with Multiple Bags and Tape to Quarantine an Ill Person
  20. Turn Off Water and Line Toilets with Bags (or line 5 gallon buckets)
  21. Store Newspaper for Future Use as Fire Starter (keeping it dry)
  22. Use for Concealment by Wearing Over Clothes at Night (black garbage bags)
  23. Cover Wounds with Gauze and Wrap with Strips of Garbage Bag
  24. Fill with Water, Tie to a Tree Branch and Poke Small Holes into the Bottom – You’ve Got an Emergency Shower
  25. Use as Disposable Gloves for Cleaning
  26. Use as a Tourniquet
  27. Wrap Around Cloth Gloves to Make Waterproof
  28. Fill with Water, Place in a Ditch then Add Hot Stones to Sterilize Water for Drinking (stones need to be hot enough to boil the water)
  29. Great Bartering Item
  30. Use them as Sterile Surface to Prepare Food
  31. Use as Emergency Signal
  32. Fill with Cold Water and Use as Cold Compress for Injuries (same can be said with hot water)
  33. Use as Ties for Splints
  34. While Wearing Socks, Step Into Two Layers of Bags to Use as Shoes
  35. Use as Diapers (line with toilet paper)
  36. Stuff Inside Your Clothing for Insulation


  • Make a small preparedness kit for your car. Include food, water, blanket, a small first aid kit, a list of important phone numbers and other useful items
  • Secure water heaters to wall studs (if not already done)
A couple of months ago I made up some mini-preparedness kits for our vehicles.

As you can see, my kit includes the following items:

I put them all in an inexpensive pencil box that I purchased at the office supply store. I then added the kit plus a few bottles of water to an inexpensive backpack. As simple as this may seem, I have already had to use everything except the blankets – and that is just recently. Since then, I have added some Ibuprofen and a packet of Survival Husband’s daily medications to the kit.

As with all of our survival and preparedness kits, nothing is static and as needs change or expand, you should change or expand the kit as well. And if you kit is hidden away in the back corner of your closet? Well shame on you! Emergencies happen everyday and since you are prepared, you should take advantage of your preps!

Protect the Water in Your Water Heater – Secure the Tank
Fresh water after a disaster may be as close as your water heater — provided, of course, it remains standing upright. You can protect this valuable resource by securing your water heater to the wall studs. This will not only protect the water in your water heater, but will also prevent the water heater from tipping over and ripping out gas or electrical lines and causing a flood, gas leak or fire.

Note: Securing water heaters in this manner is now a part of the building code in many areas of the country – especially in quake zones.

The easiest way to secure you hot water heater is with a commercially available strapping kit. You can also gather the strapping supplies yourself, using heavy-gage metal straps and 3-inch lag screws.

However you do it, keep in mind the following:

  • Use two heavy-gauge metal straps, top and bottom
  • To prevent the tank from tipping backwards, there should be very little space between it and the wall. If there is more than 1 or 2 inches, attach a wooden block to the wall with long lag screws.
  • Wrap the heavy-gauge metal strapping 1-1/2 times around the tank. Start by placing the strapping at the back of the tank. Bring it to the front and then take it back to the wall.
  • Secure this strapping to the wall studs or the wood block using several 1/4-inch x 3-inch or longer lag screws with oversized washers.
  • If you are securing it directly into concrete, use 1/4-inch expansion bolts in place of the screws.

The State of Washington has a downloadable flyer showing you how to do this. Print it out and you will be all set to go – just do it. And while you are at it, this would be a good time to add a water heater blanket to your setup.

The Final Word
Although there are a tremendous number of resources available to the public that encourage disaster and emergency preparation, the vast majority do nothing. Call it inertia or call it procrastination. Whatever the reason, the vast majority of people are not preparing because they are relying on emergency responders to help them.

Well you know what? If there were a major disaster in your area, you may be waiting a long time. Yes, FEMA and the other alphabet agencies have gotten better since Katrina, but until there is another catastrophe of that magnitude, you will never know whether you will be “saved” or left to your own resources for three days, a week or longer.

I don’t know about you, but I would much prefer to do as much as I can in advance to take care of myself and my loved ones.

 Friday, June 15, 2012
Getting Prepared Month 9: Duct Tape and Drills
Nelson Mandela once said: “It always seems impossible until it is done”.

This reminds me of prepping. At the beginning, the task of prepping seems impossible. But once you start – and once you really get going – the process does not seem so hard and most definitely seems possible.

Now don’t get me wrong. Talk to any prepper and he or she will tell you that the job is never done. Oh sure – you eventually acquire enough gear, enough water and enough food to get you by for three days. Next, you work on being prepared for a week, then a month and ultimately, for many, it becomes prepping for six months or a year. And even then the job is not done. There are new skills to learn, old skills to fine tune and well, before you know it, a whole new checklist of stuff to buy.

This month I want to remind you that it is perfectly okay and even preferable to start slow as we have done with our one-month-at-a-time prepping series. Try to think of yourself as a little fish in a big pond. You are growing and with each month you become stronger and more able to fend for yourself. Like the little fish, you take on what you can handle when you can handle it so as not to exhaust yourself physically or financially. At the same time, you stay nimble and alert and ready to make a quick decision should the big fish try to swallow you up.

A lot has happened in nine months – both in the world and in our little prepping school.

Natural disasters have occurred, random acts of violence have proliferated, and around the world, cities and even countries are facing total economic collapse. And yet amid the chaos, I would like to think that my school of little fishes has matured a bit, gaining the confidence needed to weather the storm no matter what. And with this confidence, I would like to think the fishes have begun to find other even smaller fishes that they, too, can help educate.

But I get ahead of myself. Let’s see what we need to get prepared in month 9.


  • Duct tape
  • Extra batteries for flashlights, radio and hearing aids (if needed)
  • Add an additional 3 days of water to your supply per person and per pet

The Magic of Duct Tape

You need duct tape. And lots of it. Duct tape has so many uses that entire books and even websites and blogs have been set up to extol its virtues. This month you are going to add a roll (or two or three) to your emergency kit.

First let me give you a brief history of duct tape. This miracle stuff was created during World War II when the US military needed a flexible, durable, waterproof tape to use making repairs in the field. A strong tape was created by Permacell, a division of Johnson and Johnson for this purpose. As the story goes, the GIs called it “duck tape” because it was waterproof – like a duck’s back.

Duct tape, as it is now called, is handy stuff that can be used to temporarily repair a broken window, hold together broken parts on gear in your survival kit, serve as an emergency compression bandage or sling in your first aid kit and, along with plastic sheeting or tarps, create an indoor tent to shelter in place. Duct tape can also be used to repair ripped clothing or a torn backpack and it can even be used as a fly-catcher. And that is just a start.

It is typically sold in rolls of various lengths starting at 10 yards up to 60. (Be sure to keep the size of the roll in mind as you comparison shop.) Something else to keep in mind is that there are different qualities or grades. The grades are Industrial, Professional and Premium; with industrial being the most basic – and least expensive quality – for day to day use. The higher the grade, the thicker the tape and the better the holding strength.

That is not to say that it is wrong to purchase an inexpensive grade or brand. Quite the contrary. As I have said before, purchase the best you can afford but if the budget is tight, go for the inexpensive brand or a smaller quantity so you have something now and don’t have to go without. This stuff is just too darn useful.

Note: There are many folks out there on the Net and on other blogs that will disagree with me on this point. And to them I say phooey. If you need to mend a tear in your jacket or your pack, do you think it would be better to have some cheap duct tape on hand or nothing at all? Oh sure, you, may have to reinforce the repair in a few days with a new piece of duct tape but the fact still remains: you were able to make the repair.

Other Month Nine Purchases

Something else we need to do this month is to add to our supply of backup batteries. This is where it is important to look carefully at your gear to ensure you get the right sizes. Do you need AA’s, C’s, or perhaps D’s for your tactical flashlight. Be sure to look beyond flashlights, though. If someone in your family wears hearing aids, be sure to get extra batteries for them as well. The same thing applies to other medical devices.

If your budget can handle the extra $20 to $30, consider a solar battery charger along with rechargeable batteries. I happen to prefer the Sanyo Eneloop brand of rechargeables because they will hold their charge for two years or more, but there may be other brands that do this as well – just be sure to read the fine print.

What about batteries for your radio and cell phone? If you have been following along, you will have already purchased a hand crank radio that has cell phone charging capabilities. Still, include the radio’s batteries on your shopping list. Redundancy is important, and while cranking by hand is nice and may be necessary, it is tedious and takes a long time so yeah, some batteries would be nice.

Before moving on to the tasks in month 9, add some additional water to your stored water supply. Adding three days or drinking water per person is the bare minimum but do not stop there.

Gather up some empty soda or juice bottles and fill them with tap water. The water inside may not be suitable for drinking but surely will be good for hand cleaning, housekeeping and heck, personal sanitation (potty) purposes. Just be sure to label these jugs as NON POTABLE so you do not drink from them by accident. Unless treated with bleach or purification tablets, untreated water stored over a long period may not be safe to drink.

Let us move on to Month 9 tasks.


  • Follow up on efforts to organize your family and your neighborhood.
  • Conduct an earthquake drill at home: stop, drop and hold, then go outside. (Remember, and earthquake can happen anywhere as recent events have demonstrated.)
  • Swap out stored medications with fresh versions. Review your prescription medicines and add those that are missing from your kit.

Remember when I said that you are no longer the littlest of fishes and that you have now matured enough to share your knowledge?

In Getting Prepared Month 5: Sanitation Supplies and Establishing a Community of Like Minded Folks, we talked about the importance of community. Did you do something then? If so, you are to be congratulated and if not, well, plan to step up your efforts this month. Find one person or find a group, but share your prepping skills with some like minded people. (Hint: this can even be a reluctant spouse, partner or family member.) Teach them a skill and in turn, see if they have a skill that they can share with you.

Work on a communication plan so that you can contact each other in the event of an emergency; and, further, so that you can verify everyone’s condition and their safety following a disaster. Resurrect the concept of a “phone tree”. By definition, a phone tree is a network of people organized in such a way that they can quickly and easily spread information amongst each other.

The way it works is this: each person in your self-defined community has a list of people they will try to contact in an emergency. Once contacted, those people have their own list and so on. The idea is to communicate news and information as quickly as possible without an undue burden on any one member of the group.

For this to work, multiple contact methods should be planned for including cell phones, texting, HAM ration or even door to door knocking since in a true emergency, traditional forms of communication such as telephone and email may not be functional.

Earthquakes Happen Anywhere & Everywhere

As recent events have proven, earthquakes can and do happen everywhere. It is not the purpose of this article to discuss why this is happening in seemingly non-earthquake prone locations but rather to make you aware of the possibility and to help you respond when and if it happens.

With that in mind, the next task is to gather around your family and conduct an earthquake drill. You can read more about how to do this in the article Getting Prepared Week 31: Learn to Survive an Earthquake. Plus, Ready.Gov has some excellent information on their earthquake page.

Taking things one step further, now is a good time to review your plan to escape the danger if the big one occurs and you must evacuate. Do you have a bug-out-bag (grab and go bag) ready with some water, basic food items, a first aid kit and copies of important documents (perhaps both on paper and on a flash drive)?

Do you take prescription drugs?

In month four we added a seven day supply of prescription drugs to our emergency survival kit. Has anything changed? Are there medications that need to be added, changed or deleted? Now is a good time not only to see what you have in your kit, but also to swap out the old for new. I also recommend increasing the original 7 day supply by adding an additional 7 days, bring the total to 14 (or two weeks).

For those of you with a good memory, you might recall that originally, in 12 months of prepping, I suggested that month nine be used to check the expiration dates of your stored medications so you could replace them with fresh, depending upon their expiration dates. I now feel it is important to note that in a true, SHTF situation, outdated drugs will be just fine.

As the US military, the Harvard Medical School and others will attest, the actual shelf life of prescription medicines is typically far longer that the one year than is automatically recorded by your pharmacy.

Most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of the military. With a large and expensive stockpile of drugs, the military faced tossing out and replacing its drugs every few years. What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.

Source: Drug Expiration Dates – Do They Mean Anything?; Harvard Medical school

So are drug expiration dates a scam? Perhaps. But again, that is topic for another time. The important thing is to make sure you have a adequate supply of your meds to keep you healthy for at least seven to fourteen days and preferably longer. And if you have to bypass the insurance company to purchase these extras – well – hopefully you will find a way to work the cost in to your budget.

The Final Word

This month is all about preparing for the eventuality of something bad happening. Although I have used the example of an earthquake, you could substitute a flood, a fire, a hurricane or a tornado and drilled for that instead. I can not emphasize enough that these things do not just happen to other people.

They can and do happen to ordinary folks who get up each morning and go about their business in an unobtrusive manner. Some are rich and some are poor. Some are old and some are young. Some have jobs and others are unemployed. It happens to anyone and everyone and could happen to you.

Being prepared is not always easy – especially when faced with the fear or the superstition that being prepared may “jinx” you and that by anticipating the worst, it will indeed happen. Nothing can be further from the truth. I, more than anyone, do not want anything bad to happen. I hope that I will never, ever have to use my preps. I hope that ten or twenty years from now I can donate my stored food to a food bank for the needy.

But, being a realist, I know that there is a possibility that the big one will occur near my home at some time during my lifetime. And to that end, I sleep better knowing that I have the stuff, I have the skills, and I have a plan. As you take these monthly steps toward preparedness, adapt them to your budget and to the risks you see in your area. You, too, will sleep better.

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