By Kellene Bishop
Typically when I mention emergency preparedness to someone they automatically think of "food storage" or "the Mormons." Unfortunately, a focus on either will not save your family in a time of crisis. There are actually ten vital areas to being prepared for an emergency whether it be a natural disaster, act of war or financial collapse. Food is only one component that we've addressed recently. So let's take a look at all 10 areas of being prepared.
I'm listing them for you in the area of importance.
This category has everything to do with your belief system. It's where you draw on peace even in the midst of chaos. It's also where you draw on knowledge and understanding of that which is to come. Your spiritual preparedness needs to be fed on a regular basis. It will be incredibly invaluable in a time of great need, such as a catastrophic emergency. If your spiritual preparedness is lacking, not much else you focus on will be of benefit to you.
This category has to do with your knowledge level, skills, and mental rehearsals for chaotic scenarios. This area requires constant nourishment, education, and deliberate thought. Unless you mentally prepare for a situation such as self-defense, or mass chaos, or the fact that all hell can really break loose, then you will be physically and emotionally paralyzed from being a leader and a protector to anyone, let alone your family and loved ones. The mental preparation is what prepares you in spite of the crazy looks and comments you get from friends and loved ones. Immerse yourself in movies, books, and conversations relevant to emergency preparedness (see #5). Expose yourself to as much learning experiences as you are able. Work that mental muscle as much as possible. It will serve you well in a time of crisis as well as long-term survival.
The key to your mental preparedness is Attitude, Skills, and Knowledge. Fortunately all three of these aspects can be obtained without monetary cost as there's so much available through classes and online.
This area covers a great deal. Physical preparedness has to do with your physical strength and ability to maximize your physical strength, such as the use of wagons or wheel barrels, your ability to protect yourself and your family, as well as planning for any necessary travel needs. Keep in mind that your physical strength will be your primary asset when it comes to travel. Since most of us aren't trained extensively in military tactics and maneuvers, firearms are a key consideration for physical self-defense. Make sure you have tools like small wagons, bikes, wheel barrels, etc. You can strengthen your physical preparedness by adjusting your diet now to avoid foods that impede your performance or you won't have access to later. And no, I'm not going to rattle them off because you already know what you're doing wrong in that regard. Exercise is critical for your physical preparedness as well. You will inevitably be called upon to be more physical in your survival efforts in an emergency. Perhaps you will need to trek 30 miles. Or perhaps you will need to do some heavy lifting to create a suitable shelter. You will also need to function without air conditioning or heat like you're accustomed to. Take precautions now so that you are better physically prepared later.
This includes having what you need for first-aid, solutions for your existing medical needs, as well as sanitation. First-aid needs includes bandages, a field surgical kit, pain relievers, herbs and essential oils, as well as the knowledge to use such items. Your existing medical needs will be a challenge since most individuals can't get a year's supply of prescription medicines. If I were you, I would make sure to study up on alternative options available, such as herbal nutrition, essential oils, homeopathic care, etc. Recently, as a result of my goal to be more prepared medically, I set a goal to eliminate all of my prescription drugs. I started the New Year with seven prescriptions on my nightstand, and I'm now down to one. The most recent I was able to get rid of was my thyroid medicine by incorporating quality nutrition products into my diet instead of my thyroid medicine. While my doctor wasn't happy with the approach, he did acquiesce just this last Friday that my blood tests showed that I was no longer in need of my thyroid medicine! I feel much more independent and capable now. While I can't supply a years worth of pharmaceuticals safely, I sure can keep a year's supply of various nutritional products. (Just FYI, I elect to use Reliv products. No, I don't sell them but you can locate them easily online.)
As far as sanitation is concerned, you have to be sure you've thought this one through. Digging a hole out in your back yard will not do. You've got to have the chemicals on hand to break down the waste. I assure you that if the hole in the back yard was everyone's strategy, everyone within a 50 mile radius will be dead within 30 days! The holes have to be dug deep. Plan on using some type of a disposal breakdown chemical regularly. Disposing of the waste, keeping it covered, and minimizing its location and effect on everything else around you will be critical in a time of emergency. Understand that this aspect of preparation will not be simple. You should expect a lot of diarrhea initially as a result of stress, different foods, and drinking less liquids.
This category is a higher priority than food and water. Many folks really overlook this critical area. While being able to survive in your own home is ideal, it's not necessarily possible for a myriad of different reasons. Be sure that you've got SPARE clothing available for all of your children's ages and have it readily accessible. This may mean you need to go to a local thrift store and purchase clothes for a year in advance of your children's sizes right now. Sturdy shoes will be critical-especially if you have to walk long distances to get to safety. Also, be mindful of your clothing and your shelter accommodating either warm or cold weather. Be sure to have hats and gloves for everyone-spares so that there's no chance of them "getting lost" in the event of a crisis. Even if you are able to survive in your present dwelling, be sure you have tools on hand to reinforce it, such as hammers, nails, sheeting, duct tape, and even some plywood. (My preferred sheeting is purchased at Costco. It's twice as thick as others, you get twice as much, and it's less expensive.) Be sure that you don't have to rely on electricity and batteries for the use of your tools as well in the event of a solar flare or an EMP attack.
Let me be perfectly clear on this. A two week supply of water is NOT sufficient. That's short-term. I hardly EVER address short-term preparedness in my articles, and am almost always focusing on long term. As overwhelming as it may sound, you need one gallon of water, per person, per day. That's 365 gallons per person. Yes, that's a lot of barrels. But that's just the MINIMUM. You'll be using water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, sanitation, and bathing. There are a myriad of different ways to conserve water, but you'll want to employ those even if you do have the 365 gallons per person. Water is the only thing that will keep your organs functioning properly. You need water just as much in the cold as you do in the heat. Your kidneys process hundreds of gallons worth of water each day. You do not want to treat your kidneys like a teenager treats their oil filter, right? You've got to continue to give your organs new water in order that they will not shut down. Your body uses flavored water very differently than it does real water. You use more energy to benefit from the flavored water than you do just straight water. In addition to storing enough water, I also store a lot of paper goods that I can use that won't require cleaning afterwards. I also store cleansing cloths.
You don't need to treat your water before storing it if you're using tap water. Plan on treating it afterwards if necessary (8 drops of Chlorox for each gallon of water). You can rotate your water once every 5 years and be just fine. Stale water can taste a LOT better if you simply aerate it-such as pouring it back and forth from one container to another before serving.
As I've shared in the last 8 part series, be familiar with the food that you've stored, be prepared to cook it without electricity, and be sure that it's nutritious. 90 days of food is SHORT-TERM. It's not the end result. One year of food supply for your family is absolutely necessary. Also be sure that you have all of the tools on hand you will need that don't require electricity. Be sure you have nothing in your equipment stores that you have not used yet. (In other words, don't just buy that solar oven and put it in your basement. Use it.)
Your fuel should be usable on as many tools as possible, and every responsible member of the family should be familiar with its use. I store butane for my small oven, propane for the grill, and kerosene for my lights, heaters, and another stove. I also have some charcoal and some wood for other forms of cooking. I've experimented with my cooking fuel coupled with my pressure cooker and have learned that I can cook 2 meals a day for 3 weeks on one can of butane. It's critical that you know how much fuel you need for your family. It's also critical you know that the lights you're relying on can actually put out enough light. We bought these "100 hour candles" only to discover one night that they barely put off enough light for us to see the match and the wick so that we could light the next one. I recommend to all of my clients to try a day or two without electrical lighting. I also recommend that they go a whole week without using any electricity to prepare their food-including the refrigerator.
Financial preparation isn't just about having debt. Most of us will have a mortgage if nothing else. I recommend my clients pay their utilities and their taxes in advance whenever possible. It's also critical that you have goods with which to trade such as wheat, sugar, and other stores that will be in high demand. Anything more than $500 cash on hand is a waste, in my opinion, as a crisis will quickly make money worthless. If you don't already have what you need, you will NOT be able to buy it amidst a mob of crazy people who are unprepared.
All of the other areas of preparedness I discussed are focused on you and your family. This is the only area of preparedness that focuses on reaching out to others. In order to be prepared for communication in an emergency, you should have a very specific plan of communication with you family and friends. You should have a specific point of gathering agree upon for everyone to meet in the event of a disaster. Additionally, plan on other forms of communication such as a HAM radio, accompanied by the license and skill to operate. Also plan on good old fashioned message delivery. (Another good reason to employ physical preparedness.) Being able to coordinate with the outside world will become important during and after your initial crisis reaction.
Don't get overwhelmed with all of this. Just put it on your radar and start chipping away at it. Look for opportunities to learn and strengthen your spiritual and mental preparedness first and foremost. Everything else will appropriately follow.