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Getting Started

Emergency ChecklistIn my previous National Preparedness Month blog, I encouraged you to review what preps you’ve made in the past year and consider strategic purchases to improve your preparedness position. Some of you know off the top of the head what your highest prepping priorities are, but for most of us, I’m guessing a more directed approach to evaluating your preps would be helpful. We’re here to help. Use the Preparedness Check and Challenge checklist below to evaluate where you are now and where you want to be.

There are more areas in which we need to prepare – communications, transportation, and medical, to name just a few. But our readers tend to be beginners in prepping, so we’ll stick with these basic topics for today’s blog.

We’re still working on every area (of course), but we’re making progress. My personal challenge for September is to complete a 3-day and a 1-month food plan with recipes. As I was writing this blog and explaining my alternate approach to evaluating my stored food, I realized that I can easily look at my pantry and evaluate if I have the necessary food to meet my immediate and short-term needs. Today, that is. That wouldn’t be the case in an emergency. You see, cooking is a weakness for me. Phil can grab ingredients and make good food. I can’t. I used to become paralyzed in video rental stores – there were just too many options. I also become paralyzed when faced with an immediate need to make food if I don’t have a plan.

So, by the end of September, I hope to have several written menus for the first three day s and first month of an emergency, and make sure that we keep all the ingredients on hand to make those meals. If we don’t have the ingredients in stock, the menu plan isn’t worth anything.

Let me urge you – spend a few minutes reading this brief checklist, then challenge yourself in one area. Set a specific goal of what you want to accomplish before the end of September (National Preparedness Month). That’s only two weeks away, so be reasonable about what you might be able to do, but don’t be too easy on yourself. The harder you work now, the easier you’ll have it when you need it.

Water

  • Recommendation: The government recommends 1 gallon per person (and pet) per day for drinking and cooking. We say more is better, but 1 gallon is a minimum place to start. Oh, and if you want to keep yourself and your things clean, plan on needing more water.
  • How much water do you need/want to store:
    ____ (Number of people/pets) x ____ (number of days) x 1 gallon
  • How much water do you have stored: ________
  • What are you going to do to upgrade your water storage and/or purification capabilities?

Food

  • Recommendation: The average adult intake is about 2000 calories/day under normal conditions. In an emergency, you’re likely to be burning more calories than that, so if you can plan for 3000 calories/day, that’s a good thing.
  • How much food do you want/need to store:
    ____ (Number of people) x ____ (number of days) x _____ (number of calories)
  • How much food do you have stored: ________
  • Don’t forget pets. If you have pets, how much do they eat each day? Multiply that by the number of days and you know how much pet food you need to have stored.

An Alternate Approach — Having just given you the formula, let me tell you that I don’t use the formula any more. I did at first, as I was developing my plan and understanding of long-term food storage. Now I take a different approach. I consider my preps in three stages: immediate, short-term and long-term. I approach my evaluation according to these three stages:

  • Immediate: How many meals can I make with little or no preparation in the first 72 hours? My goal is 3 meals per day for 6 people. I can easily look at my pantry and determine if I am at that goal.
  • Short-Term: How many meals can I make from my pantry with minimal dipping into my long-term storage food during the first month? My goal is 3 meals per day for 8 people, with some desserts added to help keep up morale. Again, I’m going to visually inspect my pantry to determine if my goal is met.
  • Long-Term: How much long-term food do I have? Phil and I met our one-year plan for the two of us last year, so now we look at how many other people can we help.

Cooking

  • If the power grid is down, do you have the capability to cook the food you have? What key purchase would allow you to say “yes” in response to that question? Consider a propane camping stove (don’t forget to store some propane), an outdoor fire pit with grill, a rocket stove and/or a solar oven. (I have plans for a DIY solar oven that I can’t wait to try. Oh if there were just enough hours in the day!)
  • Do you know how to cook the food you have with the cooking method(s) available?

Shelter/Heat

  • If for any reason your current shelter is no longer available, do you have a backup plan? Where will you go and how will you get there? What kind of challenges are you likely to face in getting there? What will you take with you? What do you need to be able to make the trip? How quickly can you be on the road?
  • In a no-power-grid situation (whether it’s from a snow storm, a tornado, a hurricane, or a power-grid failure) do you have a plan to keep you family warm? Start with buying extra clothes and blankets. Add to it by developing an alternate heat source.

Security

  • Is your home an easy target for being broken into? What can you do to “harden” your home? (Think about things like upgrading your entry doors or planting thorny bushes under first floor windows.)
  • Are you prepared to protect your family? What do you need to do to become more prepared and better trained?

Documentation

  • How’s your prepper notebook coming? Read more about it here. People tend to put off gathering important documents and creating a prepper notebook. If this is the one thing you do during National Preparedness Month, you will have done a good thing.

What’s your Preparedness Check and Challenge goal for this National Preparedness Month?

As many of us learned in the eighties, we humans might be described as “ugly, ugly bags of mostly water” (from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Home Soil” which aired on February 22, 1988 — Stardate: 41463.9). (Watch a replay of the moment here.) With that being the case, water is critical to our survival. Without it, a person will die in less than a week – typically three to five days. When our bodies don’t receive the fluids they need, our cells and organs quickly begin to deteriorate. (There’s a reason nurses often begin IV fluids immediately when patients arrive in the Emergency Room.)

In an emergency, clean water can be hard to come by. That means storing water now is where the water you’ll need then is going to come from. In addition to needing it for drinking, you’ll need it for food preparation and to keep yourself and everything you use clean. According to U.S. government sources, you probably use about 100 gallons of water a day in your everyday life! That’s a lot of water. It’s heavy and it takes up a lot of space. Imagine 100 one-gallon milk jugs stacked side by side! That’s how much water the typical person uses in one day!

Having said that, the government recommends (and you’ll find that most prepper sites agree) that you should store one gallon of water per person (and pet) per day. Plan on more if you live in a hot climate or are pregnant or sick…or if you want water for more than the barest minimum use. One gallon per day will be the minimum for drinking and food preparation only. It won’t include a hot shower or bath and it won’t include much washing of dishes or clothes.

The government recommends that you maintain a 3-day water supply in storage. Here at The Approaching Day, we’re not doctors or experts in much of anything, but we’re not at all comfortable with that minimal level of water storage. In any of our scenarios, a 3-day supply isn’t nearly enough water for us to feel prepared. We started with 45 gallons — nine 5-gallon storage containers. (Prepper tip: Large water barrels and tanks are great, but for the sake of mobility, a 5-gallon container is the largest size that most people can carry without excessive strain.) We’ve supplemented our initial water supply by typically having another five to ten gallons of bottled water on hand at any given point in time. According to the one gallon per person per day guideline, that’s about 25 days. We figure it’s closer to only 18 days of real usage. That’s still not enough stored water for us to feel comfortable — we’re building up to a greater supply. But it’s a start.

You can base the amount of water you store on the scenario you are prepping for and how that event will impact the water supply. Use the following formula to calculate the amount of water you need/want to store: (water storage calculation.jpg)

Formula for Calculating Water Storage Needs

As I said in the first paragraph, our bodies are largely made up of water (weird, isn’t it?). With that being the case, it’s important not to risk getting dehydrated. Drink at least two quarts of water a day. If you’re in a hot climate, pregnant, or sick, drink even more. When the need arises, work on getting more water, but drink what you have on a regular basis or you’ll quickly become physically unable to get more.

Click here for instructions on storing water.

Click here for an article on finding water in and around your house.

Click here for an article on purifying water.

Events to Prep for - a Collage

Everyone is preparing for something. Some of you are preparing for a storm that could cause you to lose electrical power for several days. Others are stocking up to prepare for the possibility of being laid off from their job for an extended period of time. Other folks are preparing for more exotic calamities like draught, an economic collapse, war, widespread civil unrest, solar flares (the cause of the beautiful aurora borealis), pandemic disease…you name it. Or read more about it here.

The possibilities are endless. Sadly, the probabilities of one or more of them occurring in our lifetime is increasing steadily.

Our concern is that what too many people are “preparing” for is to stand in line for the government to rescue them when hard times come. Instead of pre-planning and saving for their own rainy day (or week, or year), too many people are planning to make their problem everyone else’s problem.

I understand that line of reasoning. We’ve worked hard, paid our taxes, and seen Wall Street banks and big corporations be bailed out (with our money!) for too long. So now when we need a bailout, we expect the government to be there for us, too. But the government no longer has any money. They broke the piggy bank long ago. They can’t just “go to the bank” and get more.

I remember Hurricane Katrina. Families relocated by the government to another state. Living in motel rooms or small trailer homes for months and months after the storm. And those were the lucky ones. How many others endured the refugee camp environment of the New Orleans Superdome?

What all of those people had in common is that they didn’t provide for themselves. An overwhelming need arose that they hadn’t prepared for and suddenly their need for food, water, shelter, security, and more became someone else’s responsibility. Their desperate need caused them to lose the ability to make their own decisions and plot their own course, and placed those things in the hands of overwhelmed government agencies. Their desperate need and unpreparedness also caused them to lose the ability to help others.

I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to be put in that situation. And I don’t want you to be there, either. I can’t guarantee that developing an emergency preparedness plan, stocking some extra food, and learning some new skills will save you and your loved ones from everything that might come your way. But I strongly believe that doing something to become more prepared for the things that you think may adversely impact you is better than being doing nothing and finding yourself helpless to meet your own basic needs.

The people of New Orleans were warned repeatedly, days in advance of the coming storm. Some didn’t believe the warnings and went about in business-as-usual mode. Others just didn’t seem to care and allowed their problems to become someone else’s problem. But others heeded the warnings and took action. Which would you rather be?

I believe that warnings are sounding all around us today. I believe that it’s time for all of us to take some steps to get ready for the approaching day. Are you ready to take some first steps toward becoming prepared?

Sandy’s Intro – It All Started with Phil

Phil is a researcher by nature – that means he reads a lot…on a wide variety of topics. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but usually I recognizes the value of it. And it’s really handy when I’m looking for someone else to learn about the best gadget to buy to solve some problem I’m having. Well, about a year and a half ago, he got hooked on reading about what we now know as “prepping.” So you can blame all this on Phil. Actually, the more accurate way to put that is that Phil should get all the credit for this. OK, maybe not all the credit, but certainly the initiating credit…

Phil’s Intro –  Sandy Jumped on Board Fasts

I can’t believe how quickly Sandy went from being a person who knew nothing about prepping to being fully on board with the idea. I was totally surprised when she accepted the research I’d done and asked “OK, what’s our next step?” The rest, as they say, is history…

Read our stories here. Buried in the stories are our answer to the question “Why prep?”

What’s Your Story?

We’d love to hear your story. Post a comment here or on our Facebook page.