Preparing for Emergencies
Disclaimer: The content of this blog are my personal views, observations and understanding about the topic. It is recommended to follow the guidelines set by the CDC and to do your own research on these topics.
Have you ever personally experienced an emergency? Were you prepared with the necessary tools, emergency plan, and correct knowledge? If not, start now! The best time to prepare for an emergency or disaster is before it happens! Making sure you’re prepared can make all the difference when it counts.
Utah has been known for our preparedness, amongst other things. Lucky for you, I am one of the many people who takes preparedness very seriously and wants to share my knowledge! Basic preparedness is needed for all situations, but some minor differences vary between the disasters. One variation is the amount of food you need to stock up, or different evacuation plans. There are lists and information available online you can print and keep accessible.
Some of these basic emergency needs are:
- Food Storage
- Household Supplies
- Savings Account
- 72-Hour Kit
- Important Documents
- First-Aid Supply
- Communication to Family Members and Have a Plan
How much food storage should I have? It’s suggested to have a 3-month supply at all times, covering each member of your family. Don’t forget about your pets, and any dietary restrictions like babies and food allergies! You can find specific food storage kits at your local bulk stores, preparedness stores, or online. These foods are usually freeze-dried, which requires extra water to activate. So, remember to have enough drinking water for your family, and extra if you’re using freeze-dried food.
Other options for food storage you can find at any grocery store are bags of rice, beans, canned fruits and vegetables, frozen meat, spices, and cooking oil. Items that are also a good idea to have is a can opener, scissors and a camping stove with propane bottles for cooking, just in case the power goes out!
For the extra supplies needed, you’ll want to think about the items you use on a daily and weekly basis. It is a good idea to also have a 3-month supply, in case you aren’t able to leave your home in the emergency.
These items would include:
Hygiene products, feminine products, bed sheets, blankets, phone charger (and portable), toilet paper, diapers, baby wipes, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, soap, laundry detergent, clothing, hair products, garbage bags, towels, and old rags for different uses. You should also have some sort of entertainment options, like books, notebooks, coloring books, cards, balls, board games and puzzles.
Money makes the world go ‘round, so it makes sense the increased importance, especially during emergencies! Emergencies vary, and sometimes the emergency is specific to your personal finances. This is also beneficial to have in case of unemployment. The standard recommendation is three to six months’ worth of your family’s basic expenses.
What if you can’t access your bank account in an emergency? Plan to have around minimum of $100 in small bills that are easily accessible.
Since disasters can happen anywhere and anytime, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared on-the-go! Each member of the family needs a separate portable 72-hour kit; think about keeping one at home, in the car, at work, and accessible at school. Make sure everyone knows where their kit is at all times, so they’re responsible for their own during a disaster. An option for storage is in individual closets for easy access. The bag itself can be different options, depending on the individual needs. Some people like to have a backpack so it can be secure on the person, another option is a rolling suitcase or backpack with wheels since they can get pretty heavy.
In each kit it’s suggested to have:
3 gallons of water, 1-3 day supply of non-perishable food, NOAA weather radio, sleeping bag, flashlight with batteries, medical masks and gloves, whistle, baby wipes, tools, medications, glasses/contacts, first aid supplies, personal hygiene items, tissues, garbage bags, money, maps, medical history, notebook and pen, clothing, hard sole shoes, important documents, emergency contact list and personal entertainment. If there are elderly people involved, make sure they will have access to their needed wheelchairs, walkers, and canes.
In a hurry, you want to make sure you have access to all your important documents. These would include your social security card, birth certificate, bank information, medical history, ID cards, and emergency contact information. Print out a copy of things you have stored in your 72-hour kits, and other storage areas. This way you know what you have without rummaging through!
This will depend on individual medical situations; if possible, you will want to have a 3-month supply available. Besides prescription medications, some suggestions to have are medications for headache relief, stomach issues, nausea, inhalers, and cough drops.
Basic first-aid kits should have bandages, Band-Aids, gauze, alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer, cotton balls, Q-tips, tape, safety pin, Vaseline or ointment, burn ointment, water purification tablets, bleach, batteries, flashlights, matches, lighter, knife, sunscreen, lotion, and chapstick.
Communication & Emergency Plans
One of the most important things about emergencies is making sure you have a plan, and everyone knows about it! Know where your gas line and water line are located in case you need to shut them off. Talk with family members about what plans you have so they know their roles and expectations. Have a point of contact with someone out of state so you can check in, and determine a meeting place with your family members, especially if you can’t go home. Make sure everyone has a list of emergency contact numbers and locations.
Besides these basic emergency plans, there may be variances between the different disasters. Let’s talk about some possible disasters that can happen nationwide or local, and some suggestions on how you can plan specifically for those situations. Some scenarios are:
All of the basic preparedness is important for earthquakes, especially the 72-hour kits. This way, if you need to evacuate your home you will still have access to your basic needs and can find safety. If you are able to stay home after an earthquake, try these tips when it’s safe: take down any pictures or breakables in case another earthquake happens, or from the aftershocks. Fill your bathtub with water in case there’s a main water-line breakage to be used for washing hands, or flushing toilets. Check your surroundings for damage, including gas lines.
Corona Virus/ Global Sickness
With global sickness, like COVID-19, there are many domino affects that can happen. If you are quarantined at home, you will want to have at minimum 3-months of supplies. We recommend following the guidelines from the CDC and your local area.
The 72-hour kits will be important in a house fire if it’s safe to grab them before evacuating. Make sure to have them easily accessible! You can also find resources online to purchase fire-proof containers to hold important documents, jewelry, and precious photos.
A power outage can affect an entire community, including ATMs, grocery stores, disrupt water transportation, and the safety of foods and medications. Make a list of things that require electricity in your home, and the repercussions if you wouldn’t be able to use them. Can you survive on your food storage alone, without the option to freeze or refrigerate food? Would your medications go bad if they weren’t kept in the refrigerator? Are there any medical needs that require electricity? How would you charge your phone to communicate in an emergency? These are all good questions for preparing to start making adjustments and alternate plans.
It’s important to remember to keep your emergency plans and items up to date, especially since the food items have an expiration date. Set a reminder at least once a year to purge, or have it become a family habit to rotate the items within your normal lifestyle so you can replace them as needed.
Make sure you’re updating your stored medications as your prescriptions change, checking your batteries and flashlights still work, replacing your clothes that don’t fit anymore and according to the seasons, updating your emergency plan, and emergency documents.
Other great ideas to research is how to be self-reliant! It may benefit you and your family to have other food resources, like gardening and raising chickens. Consider home-preserving your food to store long-term in your food storage!
You don’t need to worry about suddenly becoming the best dooms-day prepper out there, with the most expensive kits and gadgets. The most important thing to take away from this is to just get started! Like I said, the best time to start preparing in an emergency is to do it before it’s needed. Although, if you’re thinking it’s too late, don’t worry. Start now, and you’ll realize how valuable it will become.
I am currently getting my degree in Anthropology, with a special interest in Historical Archaeology. I have many passions including violin, gardening, self-reliance, canning, reading, Harry Potter, being a mom, religion and painting. I love to challenge myself and constantly be learning new things whenever possible!
Interested in additional online resources? Find some options here: