What are the essentials for being better prepared? Great question! I started thinking about this early in the week because I’m snowed in for a while. Thankfully I’m safe. I still have power, and everything is running fairly smooth. Many others in this area are not this fortunate right now.
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The snow started late Sunday evening and dumped 14 inches in my neck of the woods. Two highways and one major freeway are closed. One highway closure has completely isolated a small town. Nobody can get in or out. The highway is the only route to this town. That alone is more than a little terrifying. Because they have nothing.
The gas stations and grocery stores require electricity to operate. The power companies can’t send people out to work on the lines because of the highway being closed. Help could be a week or more away. Everyone is waiting on the highway to reopen.
With absolutely nothing in the way of supplies or access, what happens after a few days? How long before panic sets in and things turn violent or dangerous? That is a scary thought.
All we have to do is look at history. Think about Hurricane Katrina. We saw on the news the violence, riots, looting, and so much more. Let’s be honest here. Things get ugly when people get hungry. This isn’t a fun fact, but it is a fact.
Where do you start preparing for major power outages, bad weather, or natural disasters? Here is my list of essentials:
Water. Water is life. We can survive without food far longer than we can without water. I’ve talked about several methods in my emergency water storage post. My big recommendation would be Blue Can Water. It is a wonderful product and is an essential in my house. That reminds me that it is time to order more, actually!
Food. I wrote a post called Prepping and Food Storage about how to stock the pantry efficiently. With not being able to go to the grocery store right now, this has come in very handy! I can make food easily with what I have on hand. This is a great thing because my husband isn’t going to work for a few days. Without being able to go out, we’re eating at home. Home cooked food is always the best.
I found it easy to supplement canned foods instead of fresh. It isn’t my favorite thing, but it certainly works. I made spaghetti Monday, using canned tomato sauce and mushrooms. I had fresh herbs and onion. The biggest thing I made sure to do was remove the moisture from the mushrooms. This also takes away from the canned taste. Simple tricks like that can make a huge difference. This also gave me leftovers and I didn’t have to cook a lot over the next few days.
I recommend that everyone have a 72 hour food supply kit. Personally I like the variety bucket with a little of everything in it. I also believe a minimum 30 day food supply is the way to go. The more you have, the better. That is the reality. But it all depends on space and budget. I started off with the 72 hour kit and added to it from there.
I know that with food storage, I don’t have everything I need or want yet. It is a process based on my budget. My favorite phrase is, prepping isn’t a race. It is a marathon. One that requires continued effort and training. Patience is a virtue as well.
My newest goal with the freeze dried food I have is trying to develop recipes. I will be doing this in my blog. Keep an eye out for that coming soon! It reminded me that I should be testing out the products I store. This is important for everyone to do. The snowstorm made me realize that it is time to start testing out my preparations. I can learn a lot from that.
Heat. We need to be able to stay warm. Blankets are an essential in my house. I always wonder if I have too many until winter and they are piled up on the couch and I am warm. Then I always think I need even more.
Emergency blankets are something I keep everywhere as well. I keep these in my blackout box, in the car, in my purse, and bug out bag. They are small, take up very minimal space, and weigh nothing. An absolute essential in my book. Hand and foot warmers are a staple in my house. They also are amazing for my husband because he works outside in all types of weather.
Speaking of heat, a generator is high on the priority list. It likely won’t keep everything running. But at least it’ll get things moving to be able to cook with and keep the heat on. A camp stove and cast iron skillet are very important. Food is great, but how do you heat it up and cook it without a heat source and pan? These things should be at the top of the priority list.
Cash. If stores are open, they will likely only be doing cash transactions. I recommend keeping it in a small fireproof safe in the house. Smaller bills are preferable. Stores may not be able to make change for larger bills if they are running cash only sales. They won’t have access to the store safe without electricity.
Nathan stopped by a convenience store on his way home from work Monday morning. Day one of the snow storm. Just to pick up a few small things. Soda, hot food and coffee because he was cold. This would get him through having to walk home in the snow. The store was only accepting cash. Carrying $20 or less is a huge asset in this situation.
The amount of cash kept at home instead of the bank is completely up to you. I don’t have a magical number for that. What I would take into consideration is the need for cash. I think about how much I spend on food and gas each week and make sure I have at least two weeks worth. This comes in handy in other situations as well.
A portable charger is a requirement in my house. Nathan and I both have one and a spare we keep at home. There is a solar charger in our bug out bag too. I can communicate with family and friends to let them know if there are problems. Or let them know I’m safe. In the news stories about the nearby town, several people left comments about this. Asking others in town if they were able to check on family members because their phones had died.
Nathan faced many obstacles during this storm and trying to work through it. I would check on him at different times during the morning to make sure he was still safe. Having the portable charger with him came in very handy. If his phone battery died, I couldn’t have done that. Once that happens, do I call for help? Just wait and hope for the best? Good question. I don’t have the answer. Because I’m not entirely sure what I would be doing in that situation. The portable charger prevented me from having to decide that. Money well spent.
In looking at the nearby town and the obstacles they are facing, each one of the items listed above would get them much farther than not being prepared with anything. Even having one or two weeks worth of supplies would be far better than nothing. It would have prevented family from worrying. I know there were many who felt helpless because there was no way to help.
In this kind of situation bugging in (staying home) is the best option because travel is either dangerous or even restricted. Being prepared to be at home and stay even moderately comfortable is a huge asset. But the key is definitely being prepared for that and ready. My motto is “always be ready” and it rings so true in instances like this.
The biggest goal is to stay safe. Everything I talked about here will help all of us stay safer in times like this with bad weather and being forced to bug in. I hope the snow melts soon and we can all go back to normal, but that may not happen as quickly as I would like.
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