SALT LAKE CTIY — Your family's safety and well being is important. So what happens when a natural disaster or some other emergency hits your home and you have to think fast?
Being prepared for emergencies is a process and takes time. Whether you live in the city or out in the country, from east to west there are emergencies which require preparation.
Emergency preparedness, or disaster preparedness, is something that needs to be arranged before disaster hits. But there are numerous websites and books on being prepared and it is easy to be overwhelmed and do nothing.
When organizing for emergencies, think about where you live and what emergency your family could experience in your area. The information here is about the physical aspect of being prepared.
There are generally six areas of preparedness to consider:
1. Food Storage: This part of preparing is probably the most time-consuming task. In planning for food, determine who you are feeding and estimate for how long. Start with planning a three month supply and purchase necessities first. Budget food storage money each week and purchase a little at a time to be built up.
What ever your family eats, you need to store. It’s no good storing 500 pounds of pinto beans if your family refuses to eat it. Plus families must also consider the food collected from growing their own garden can help in the storing process.
List meals for two weeks and break down on paper. You may find that what you or your family eats regularly is not storage friendly. Packing a freezer full of chicken nuggets and tator tots will not last long, especially if your power goes out. Changing your eating habits now can help you prepare better for an emergency, bcause meals made with whole foods are easier to put into food storage.
There are numerous websites, books and other resources which have lists to guide families to store food. The more conventional food storing idea is to buy certain foods in bulk which are used to prepare meals. This method requires monthly menu planning to rotate and use foods bought for storing.
Food storage and amounts will be addressed more thoroughally in another article.
2. Water Storage: Water is the most important item in emergency preparedness. Most people might do okay with little or no food, but no one can live without water. To give you an idea of how much water you need to store per person, just drinking water alone for one adult is 14 gallons for two weeks. That doesn’t include bathing or cooking water.
Water storage can be clean water from a well (providing you have energy to retrieve it), rain drained off the roof into drums or stored tap water.
Water should be kept in food-grade containers and rotated regularly. Some plastic containers, like milk cartons, will deteriorate and start to leak. Other plastic containers like Clorox and soda pop bottles make better storage containers because they keep their integrity longer.
It is also important to have several forms of water purification on hand such as Chlorine drops, purification tablets, boiling pots or hand held purifiers.
3. Shelter: Organize your home with emergency preparedness tools that are in esay access in many parts of your home.
But what if emergencies require you to leave your home?
Every county has temporary shelters, and they should only be considered in an extreme emergency with no other options. Temporary, portable shelters like tents should also be on handMake an emergency plan that includes a safe, sheltered place for you to meet in case you need to evacuate your home and your family gets separated.
4. First Aid: A basic first-aid kit is a must. If any family member is on regular medication, then experts advise to keep a month supply on hand in case of emergencies. Confer with your doctor in order to receive the necessary extra prescriptions to keep at home.
Keep a book about first aid with your kit, and take a class on basic first aid, including CPR.
5. Communication: Communication is always important, especially in an emergency. Cell phones are great until the battery runs out or towers are damaged. A land line is one of the best forms of communication, because they don't need electricity to work.
Walkie-talkies are a great source for close-range communication, but the best form of long-distance communication is a shortwave radio. Shortwave radios can be expensive and a test is required for a license to use it, so this may be an item on your long-term list.
6. Protection: If a large-scale disaster occurs in your area, you may need the means to protect yourself in the wild or otherwise. Consider what this would mean for your family in your area and ask emergency prepardness exprerts for ideas and advice.
Sources for more learning:
Everything Under the Sun is a blog with ideas and tip for storing food and preparing it.
"The Backyard Homestead" by Carleen Madigan is arguably the best book in year-round gardening and homesteading.
"The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers" by Caleb Warnock has a wonderful wealth of information on gardens and raising chickens.
The Environment Protection Agency is a great resource to learn more about storing water for emergencies.
Valerie Steimle is the mother of nine children who lives happily on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. She is the author of five books, all about strengthening the family, including "Thoughts from the Heart." Email: email@example.com