Five Habits that will Help You Prepare for Emergencies

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Many people are still reeling from the after effects of Hurricane Sandy.  As I write this post, thousands are still without electricity and many areas are still so flooded that supplies cannot be brought in.   Food and water have become scarce in many areas.  People may take a fresh interest in getting prepared for emergencies.  But it can quickly get overwhelming for someone who is new to preparedness.   I know, because I felt a lot of confusion when I first got started.

I also started buying up supplies and gear at a rapid pace and ended up regretting some of my rushed purchases.  In hindsight, I would have gone a lot slower and more methodical. Before going out and spending money on emergency supplies, consider developing a few easy to adapt habits that not only will help you prepare for emergencies but will help you in everyday living.

1.  Keep your gas tank at least at half full.  I used to let my gas tank run all the way down close to empty.  Then the nerves would start getting frayed as I searched for a gas station wondering if my car would stall.  Not anymore.  Since I started preparing, I never let my gas tank run below a quarter, I prefer at least half a tank.  This way if there is ever an emergency, I know I can get in the car and at least get out of the city.  And if the gas lines were too long, I don’t have to worry about having to fill up right away.

2.  Two is one and one is none.  It’s an old saying about stuff you use all the time- don’t let yourself run out.  If your family eats something all the time, let’s say peanut butter, then  pick up two when you go to the store.  Same thing with toilet paper.  Never wait until you are down to the last one before going out to buy more.  Ever since I adopted this habit, I never have to make last minute trips to the store..  And if we ever have a hurricane warning, I know I have at least a couple of week’s worth of items that we use all the time.

3.  Keep some cash at home.   Many people no longer carry cash but use their debit cards for all purchase.  A bank glitch or any other disaster with a resulting a power outage will cause ATM machines and card readers to go down, leaving you without access to funds.  Set aside a few dollars that can help tide you over in case you can’t use debit or credit.  The emergency cash stash does not need to be huge, just enough to get you food and other necessities.

4.  Store what you eat, eat what store.  If you buy extra food for emergencies, keep track of expiration dates and use them up before they get old.  Resist the urge to buy things just because they are on sale.  Buy only what your family eats-there is no point in stocking up on sardines or raisins even if they are on sale if your family does not eat them.  A friend of mine found out the hard way – don’t let this happen to you.

5.  Have a paper backup of all your important documents including your address book.  I once had my cell phone charge completely run out in the middle of a conversation.  I wanted to call the person back on a landline when I realized her phone number was contained in the cell phone that now won’t turn.  Dumb!  Luckily I had written her number down on a piece of paper earlier and I was able to find it and call her back.  Lesson learned.

The habits described above won’t cost you anything but can save you a whole lot of headaches.  At the same time, these habits are helping you get started preparing for emergencies with ease.  This list is not all inclusive- what habits are you glad you acquired?  Please share in the comments.

 

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Don’t let those expiration dates get past you.  An inexpensive but helpful tool to keep track of supplies (Iphone or Ipad users):

 

 

For more preparedness tips, read my book:

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25 thoughts on “Five Habits that will Help You Prepare for Emergencies

  1. As one of those people that got smacked around by Sandy, I have a whole new perspective on the subject of prepping (especially when facing a predicted disaster like this), I can add the following:
    1. Be extra attentive to housekeeping prior to a storm’s arrival. Having the laundry done, dishes washed, and random things up of the floor saved a lot of unnecessary stress when the power went out. I’m in no way a neat freak, but knew that I did not want to have to where the same clothes 3 days in a row becouse the power was out.
    2. Make sure that your prepping is not one sided. My plans basically revolved around being stuck in the house due to a monster snowstorm, so I have tons of food and water, meds, pet food, etc – but I always assumed that I would not face an extended power loss. Not true with Sandy – the power was out for 4 days,the cell phone battery, laptop, and portable TV batteries ran out, and I was totally without any way to communicate with friends and family. A rechargeable power source wouls have been invaluable, and is scheduled for delivery next week, before the next big storm blows in. Lesson learned!

    • Hi Sharon, Glad to hear you were mostly prepared and have already ordered your power source before another storm. Thanks for sharing these tips-great advice. I appreciate the comment.

  2. If you are moving anywhere in the future you should pay close attention to where your new home is located. Do not relocate to an area where you have any chance of having your home destroyed no matter what preparations you take. It’s one thing to live in an area where you may have the power knocked out. That is something you can prep for. Living in any lowlying area, knowing that a storm surge or flood WILL happen at some point is foolish.

    In some of our Great Central Valley cities the older homes are built with a daylight basement and you had to walk up a flight of stairs to the first floor. That way, when the floods came every few years the homes wouldn’t be destroyed. Even that won’t work nowadays because there is so much debris floating in the water that it will crash into the homes and destroy them. It’s no longer just about water flowing.

    • Whatifitstoday, That is so true, it’s important to find out about whatever perils and hazards affect any area you move to. After I found out an area I was interested in was in a 100 year flood plain I decided against it. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I’ve acquired a couple others so far this year…

    1) Keep extra blankets and thicker clothing at home. When my wife and I first moved out to the sticks, the first place we rented (a total dump) looked beautiful, but the heat didn’t work worth a damn… in February. The extra blankets and layered clothing made an otherwise unbearable situation into something that wasn’t half bad. (note: thanks to state law, we lived there for 90 days rent-free until we moved out, because the heat never worked the whole time).

    2) Oil lamps and candles can be beautiful things. Forget flashlights – if the power goes out for a prolonged period of time, batteries will only last you for so long. Note that you should however stick with flashlights on one condition: if you’re ever in a situation where gas lines may be broken, avoid open flames at all costs (fortunately, the area where I live has no natural gas service).

    • Hey OQ, No doubt that experience of living without heat for a time made a lasting impression. Thanks for sharing these.

  4. I echo the comments of some of the other posters. As someone who lives only 25 miles from the coast of a state that was smacked by Sandy, I got rolling well ahead of the storm. I realized that flooding was NOT an issue for my area, but rather, the loss of power. Our building losses power quite easily, as we are in a wooded location.

    First off, I already store food, water, and all the other prepper fare, so there was no panic buying on my end. I did my usual Friday night grocery shopping (this was 3 days before Sandy hit), only I bought LESS because I skipped buying the frozen/refrigerated foods. And I did purchase some extra cat food. Sadly, pet prepping is often neglected, but I was more than ready. While I was out, I topped off the gas tank and engine, and withdrew some cash from the ATM. Again, this was THREE DAYS BEFORE the storm hit.

    Saturday was my day of rest, and I stayed home.

    Sunday, the day before the storm arrived, I did my laundry at 5:00 a.m. to avoid the crowds in the laundry room later. Turns out, the room was not busy at all throughout the day, leading me to believe that people simply were not thinking of doing this in the event the power went out. I thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed my apartment Sunday afternoon, filled the oil lamps, pulled out various prepping items and supplies and put them within reach, placed my Duracell power supply in a strategic location (this thing is fantastic during a power outage, especially for apartment dwellers who cannot use a generator), filled extra containers with tap water (for non-drinking purposes), filled plastic bags with water and put them in the freezer (should others need them for food), secured my patio furniture (thank God!), made contact with a couple of neighbors and rehashed our emergency plan, made necessary phone calls, and charged my cell phones before bed.

    My workday begins at 3:00 a.m., so on Monday I was home by 11:00 a.m., plenty of time to evaluate my situation at home. When I arrived, I ate whatever perishable food remained in my fridge, which was very little. I, again, touched base with family and friends and kept the cell phones on the charger. By late afternoon, the storm was upon us. I was completely comfortable and stress-free. Remarkably, I never lost power, but would have been in great shape to endure it if I had. I made it through a full week without power last October without much of a glitch (at least compared to others), and this time, I was even more prepared.

    • Hi John, By prepping and thinking ahead, you fared very well. All your preparations paid off in that you were comfortable and stress free throughout what could have been an ordeal. Wish more people were ready as you were, perhaps this would prompt more people to prep for the next time. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. Because of Sandy, I heeded warnings and went to stay with family outside NYC. I took ID’s, important paperwork, changes of clothes, extra meds, etc. but it wasn’t until I saw the news about fires and severe flooding that I remembered… Pictures! I didn’t bring any with me. I am very lucky, I had no damage – just power out, which was challenging enough, but I will now be starting to scan and save my most important memories to an external hard drive and so I could grab it and go if necessary.
    I will also be taking video of my apt., for insurance purposes. There’s no way after a traumatic event of losing everything, could I list for an insurance agent, how many books I had or what kind of flooring I had, or how many extra tubes of toothpaste I had stored.

    The experience helped iron out some of the details I hadn’t thought of; but this site and your ‘getting started list’, helped me be a little more prepared than I was a few months ago. Thank you.

    • Hi Darcie, Thanks for sharing your Sandy experience. Except for realizing you forgot pictures, your preparation and heeding warnings helped you fare better than most. I am happy the “getting started” list is helpful to you. I appreciate the comment!

  6. I think these habits like keeping the laundry and dishes done are great. Although just a little habit, things like keeping a tea kettle full and the brita pitcher full helps as well. An extra gallon here, a halve a gallong here. Maybe it’s just that I know my water storage does not match my food storage.

    Other good habits are being a news junky at all levels, local, state, federal and world. Also keeping fit. A few extra pounds is one thing, but going from sedentary to survival is not a good idea. I’ve been watching some videos on living during victorian times and another during 1600′s. I’m reminded how very physical basic living is without power and running water. I heat almost strictly with wood and still can’t belive how much they did.

    • Hi countrygirl, So true, tasks basic living used to take a lot more energy- we are so much more sedentary now. Getting fitter is one of my goals as well. I’d should look at some of those victorian living videos, must be interesting. Thanks for sharing these habits!

      • They’re available on youtube. Victorian Farm, and Green Valley, are the ones I’ve watched lately. Very good and full of useful information. Another good one is 1940′s house, about rationing in England during WWII, and they build a bomb shelter. Fascinating stuff.

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  8. Note to those reading Sharon’s Nov 2 post (the first one). Yes, a rechargeable power source is essential and I am developing one–it will be vastly superior to those on the market. It’s based on my 20 plus years of experience with solar panels, batteries, inverters etc. My guide to basic solar (at powerfromsun.com) will be the foundation for a DIY instruction manual and an easily assembled kit. Generators are NOT the answer. (Should be available in a couple months.)

  9. Thanks for the tips. A lot of this is almost second nature to me with my military background, but I am having a difficult time adopting my wife into my prepping plans. Any suggestions?? I feel like I’m putting a strain on our marriage when I go too in depth with prepping, but as I’m sure you know, your plan is only as good as the people who are willing to implement it. In an emergency situation I may not have the time to explain why things are done a certain way or why we’re doing a particular task.

    Sorry to spring the Dr. Phil question on you. Just curious about how you and your family work together while prepping. Who knows, this might inspire a whole new blog post. =)

  10. One trick I rarely/never see suggested is to fill your bathtub/sinks/pots with water.
    Clean the bathtub first and it can be used for whatever you need.
    Flushing toilets… although a 3 gallon bucket is a better idea for that.
    Drinking, washing, fires. Buy an old scrub board and slide it into a closet for maybe use….
    Doing laundry with clean-up clothes, your knuckles will thank you.
    If you are dealing with standing sewer water in a basement, a couple of dissolved hot tub or swimming pool pucks will keep the slime from growing until the pumps can be put into place.
    Buy some Almond milk, lasts for a couple of years, tastes OK.
    Have some powdered and canned milk on hand.
    Swap meets, auctions, Garage sales and second hand stores are great places to collect tools.
    Also great places to pick up books on living rough.

  11. Thats great! People dont realize that by just a little big of planning ahead you can really save yourself and family from a potential catastrophe. Thanks!

  12. I’d like to know about the “power source”. Where can they be bought? How do you construct one?

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