By Phil Cox, CEO, Legacy Food Storage
Disaster can strike at any time, and when it does, you’ll be glad you took time to prepare for potentially challenging events. Survival experts and the Federal Emergency Management Association recommend planning for emergency situations, but knowing how to get started without exhausting your budget can be overwhelming—often so much so that you don’t even begin.
One way to start is to outline a food item or emergency supply each month in 2016, and then divide your emergency budget appropriately. By the end of the year, you’ll have a solid set of supplies to provide for your family in case of a natural disaster or even a job loss. “Which products should I start with?” you might ask. While the final order is up to you, consider following this month-by-month guide to ensure a safe 2016 and beyond…no matter what may happen.
January — Basic Nourishment. While the month is halfway over, you still have plenty of time to start with an essential supply of food and water to get you through any immediate need. Depending on the situation—severe snowstorm, electrical outage, or natural disaster—help may not be available for several days. Storing basic supplies will help make any potential emergency situation more comfortable…and potentially life saving. An easy way to obtain a several day supply of meals is a non-perishable emergency food kit with enough servings for each member of your family. Start with enough for at least three days per person, and with FEMA’s recommendations of storing one gallon of water per person per day to last at least several days.
February — Equipment. With the basics covered, now you can focus on things such as blankets, a first aid kit, flashlights, a radio, and extra batteries. You’ll also be glad you stored games, puzzles and books to keep children entertained…and their parents sane.
March — Young Children and Pets. If you have babies, young children and/or pets, you’ll want to make sure you have food specifically designed for them (such as infant formula or baby foods) and tasty enough that they will actually eat it, as well as diapers, extra clothes, etc. Stock up on extra dog, cat or even hamster food, as needed.
April — Seeds. Adding survival seeds to your food storage is an added layer of protection in your emergency preparations. As the spring planting season approaches, a seed kit will make it easy for you and your family to produce various food items for both long-term storage and use during emergency situations such as natural disasters or job loss. A quality kit includes thousands of seeds for vegetables, fruits and herbs. Be sure to buy an emergency seed kit with seeds specially stored in a way that helps them last for years with a high germination rate. Also look for kits that enable seeds to be planted indoors at any time of the year.
May — Long-term Water Needs. While you likely stored water a few months back as part of your basic nourishment purchases, plan to add even more for long-term emergency storage. While FEMA recommends one gallon per day per person for drinking and sanitation, it really isn’t enough for cooking, brushing teeth, watering seeds/plants, flushing toilets, etc. Two gallons per person per day will make emergency situations much easier. Consider purchasing food-grade water supply boxes, which will enable you to utilize your storage space efficiently, and water purification packets so you can keep your water safe to drink.
May — More Food. It’s time to purchase more food for longer needs, so add enough to feed your family for 10 days or even a month, depending on your budget. And don’t forget family members with special dietary needs. If you are vegetarian or one of your children needs to eat gluten-free because of a celiac disease diagnosis, make sure the food you purchase meets these requirements. Purchasing emergency food for a range of needs will ensure everyone in your home—family, friends and neighbors alike—can eat well during the challenging situation outside.
June — Stove and Fuel. Part of disaster preparation is having the tools necessary to prepare meals. You’ll want the option of enjoying a hot drink or the ability to boil water for freeze-dried emergency foods that need hot water. Consider a multi-fuel stove that is easy to set up and can quickly be folded flat so it can be stored in small places. Don’t forget a lighter or matches. There are also inexpensive heat sources such as diethylene glycol fuel cans that provide instant heat and burn cleanly, smoke-free and without odor for up to four hours.
July — Hurricane, Earthquake or Cold Weather Kits. As hurricane and storm season approaches, depending on your location, consider purchasing an emergency kit that you can take with you depending on your situation. A hurricane “bug-out” kit, for example, may include a basic first aid kit, hygiene kit, 2-man tent, food and water purification tablets in a heavy-duty backpack while a cold weather kit may add fire-starters, a stove, reflective blankets and hand warmers. Just grab them and go.
August — School Essentials. Consider stocking up on school supplies with the school year approaching. While they might not seem like emergency essentials, they will be when school starts later this month, and you can add pencils, crayons and paper to your emergency kits so your children will always have them available, even in an emergency.
September — Practice a Plan. In the U.S., September is National Preparedness Month, so what better time for you and your family to review disaster planning and drills for various challenging situations. Check that you have needed supplies stored and that each family member knows what to do in events such as flooding, tornadoes, extreme winter storms, extreme heat, wildfires or civil unrest. You may wish to discuss as a family which type of disasters are most likely to occur in your area. Also, plan to rotate your water, which is recommended every six months.
October — Vehicle Safety. With winter approaching, make Halloween your deadline for placing emergency supplies in your car in case of upcoming snowstorms or even a breakdown in a rural area. Be sure to keep your car stocked with some long-term emergency food, water and blankets. These supplies will help keep you and your passengers more comfortable should you be stranded in the cold. If you want to be even more prepared, stock your car with a first aid kit, flares and jumper cables. Other auto tips: keep your car as full of gas as possible at all times so you don’t have to fill up during an emergency, when lines might be long, or if stranded in the cold, so you can keep your heater running for longer.
November — Auto Kits. If you feel vulnerable while stranded after engine trouble or a tire blowout, an auto safety kit in your car can provide protective gear against a potential attacker. A kit from an emergency supplier will contain easy-to-use, non-lethal protection solutions.
December — Review. You’ve made a list throughout the year, so now is the time to check it twice. What might you be missing that you would need or simply want during a disaster survival situation? Then plan out how you will add to your supplies throughout the next year.
Getting started with emergency planning can be the hardest part, so following some sort of schedule that helps you stay organized and on budget will go a long way in helping make any emergency situation as comfortable as possible.
Stay safe. Happy planning.