Recall Aesop’s fable The Ant and the Grasshopper. In all his Greek wisdom, Aesop told of wise ants and their preparations against leaner times in comparison to foolish Grasshopper, who found great pleasure in his life, until winter winds began to blow. He mourned taunting remarks to his busy little friends in earlier days and found himself at their mercy when times were tough. The moral of the story: Be Prepared.
Fortunately, we don’t need to spend our entire summers hauling necessary sustenance into a hole in the ground. What can we do to be ready for a rainy day? Plan and prepare. Emergency Preparedness consists of four main survival essentials: medical, food, water, and shelter. All take a little time, money, and effort, but don’t all good things? As abundant as things may appear, the most unimaginable, seemingly absurd circumstances can quickly diminish the essentials and leave us vulnerable in the most basic human ways.
MEETING MEDICAL EMERGENCIES
At the forefront of the world’s eye this past year, and continuing to be a pressing issue, global health has given us an educated perspective for preparation. I will point out the elephant in the room and suggest it wise to take the precautions and motions you deem worthy during our current pandemic. Suggestions for preparations would include a supply of masks; medical, reusable, or a combination of the two. Having items like a thermometer, sanitizer, and disinfectant are also crucial. Consider a vaccination when it becomes available to you.
Having a fundamental knowledge of both physical and mental first aid is invaluable. As a society, we’ve made great strides in curbing the stigma surrounding mental health. Suicide prevention is a skill we should all seriously consider acquiring. There are basic classes offered in the community for both medical and mental health first aid. Staying up to date on CPR and first aid is vital — we never know when we might need it. I carry a CPR face shield and other first aid supplies in my car and bag. I stay CPR certified, hoping that if faced with an emergency, I can change someone’s story.
My in-laws have a resident squirrel, named Stanley whose winter preparation has provided entertainment for this cute couple and my son. Take notes from Stanley and his kind. The rule of thumb according to food storage specialists is to have at the minimum a three-month supply. But not everyone can do that. Kristen Curley, President of Nitro-Pac Preparedness Center in Midway offers this advice, “We recommend that you at least have a two-week supply of food and water per person. This gives you peace of mind in case something does happen. Sometimes emergencies might just be a couple of days, sometimes they might be longer; a two-week supply is a good start. If you can do more, then ultimately the next steps would be to have a thirty-day, three-month, six-month, or one-year supply.”
Store what you know how to use and what you like. Purchase extra frequently used items and rotate them as you go. If you’d rather not worry about rotating food, Kristin shared that dehydrated and freeze-dried foods have a longer shelf life. Depending on the brand, freeze-dried food can have a thirty-year shelf life. You should store canned and dry goods in a cool, dry, dark space. Ideally, you can devote a part of your basement or a deep closet to food storage. If you’re lucky you have a cellar. Space tight? Get creative with nooks and crannies you can utilize. Think of space under beds, in crawl spaces and attics, the tops of closets, or under staircases.
MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID
Adult and Youth Classes
This year includes new content, focusing primarily on the youth. Classes are held in the evenings, weekly for two- or four-week sessions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend storing, at minimum, one gallon of water for drinking and sanitization per person for three days. Remember to factor in if you need water for any food storage meals. Purchasing water is an option or there’s the route of filling your own containers. Be sure to refresh regularly. You should rotate or refill your water storage every 6 months. See the CDC’s website section titled Preparing a Home Water Supply for details.
Consider a rain barrel for collecting water. Please note, it’s not advised as drinking water. It may acquire chemicals on its way to your barrel. Think practical, watering fruits and vegetables, washing clothes, or even filling a toilet. My home is on a well and it’s incredibly inconvenient to use the bathroom when the power is out. That is a messy situation we don’t care to think about, but your future self may be mighty grateful for that quick internet search and purchase. There are a plethora of water barrel options available; ranging from efficient and inexpensive to decorative.
We’re generally blessed with fairly nice shelters. It’s a good idea to have plans for emergency situations that call for staying in place or evacuation. In cases of evacuation, unfortunately, we have yet to figure out how to magically pack our homes into a suitcase or backpack. Having a survival shelter that you can quickly set up to protect you from the elements can be the deciding factor between life and death. There are many different types of portable shelters from tarps and tube tents to pop-up tents, inflatable tents, and backpacking tents. What works for one may not work for another; write down what your needs are, what your budget is, and remember something is better than nothing. A few things to consider when looking are: quality, materials, structural design, weight, company track record, reviews, your climate, occupancy, and what best fits your individual needs. You can also visit thepreparednessexperience.com for their 2021 list of best survival tents for emergencies. Don’t just take their word for it though — do your research — and do what is best for your situation.
Evacuation plans also call for a 72-hour kit, prepackaged or self-assembled for the house and the car. Each member of the family should have their own kit. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have heavy-duty 72-hour ‘family’ kits. I have two; one with medical and survival items and another with food and water. Everyone’s kit will be different depending on their needs but all should include the basics; first aid, food, water, shelter.
Kits should be easily accessible at a moment’s notice on your way out the door. I store mine in the mudroom. A shelf in the garage also works well.
Over the years I’ve assembled a pack for each of my children with spare clothing, a personal water bottle, a few food items, and entertainment (ie. coloring book, stuffed animal, card game). Kits should be checked and restocked at least once a year. Clothes can be rotated out for seasons or you can have a winter set and a summer set. If you can, include clothing for three days this will allow for damage during a disaster or clean up. For children pack extra as bedwetting is a common symptom of trauma. When considering clothing for children it is recommended to pack used clothing (one to two sizes bigger) that is familiar to what they already wear — children can feel the difference especially if they have special needs.
We are living in uncertain times and there’s no time like the present to get started on emergency preparedness. Like the busy ants and Stanley and his nut supply — whatever your inspiration; be prepared for the worst so you can be at your best.
THINGS YOU NEVER THINK OF
BABY ON BOARD
Diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, diaper rash cream, change of clothes.
Comfort items, games, entertainment, change of clothes.
Eyeglasses, contact lenses and solution, diabetic supplies, prescriptions.
WOMEN – LISTEN UP!
Feminine sanitary items.
Keep cash in your kits.
Flashlight, chargers for electronic devices, batteries, printed maps, tool kit, knife, shovel, blanket(s), fire starter, masks, disinfectant, flares, matches.