I have been enjoying getting myself prepared for life’s little emergencies, you know those that are about 72 hours or less in length. And this series has definitely gotten my butt in gear on getting it done. It’s a slow process but the key is it is getting done. However, there certain scenarios where the 72 hour kit won’t do. Major catastrophes, though not as likely as say the 72 hour disaster, do happen. If anything the last ten years should have taught us is anything can happen. We have seen hurricane Katrina, the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan (resulting in tsunami), and so much more. We have even seen an increase in terrorism and weapons hoarding by countries. All of which is pretty scary.
And that’s disasters but what about times when you are forced from your home because of household breakdown such as a major water pipe busting and flooding your home or a smoke or fire that forces you out. I know of two families that have found themselves at living at Extended Stay hotels as a result of household accidents.
I am no survivalist or doomsday prepper and I recognize that there are something’s that we just will not be prepared for because Mother Nature acts fast. But in these rare cases, it is better in my mind to be prepared with a plan and some essential supplies, than to be caught like the proverbial up a creek without a paddle. So this post is dedicated to those times when you need to be prepared for when your emergency lasts a month or more.
When you find yourself in an emergency situation like an earthquake or major fire or emergency where you may not have access to plumbing, running water, electricity, etc. you will need to make sure you have access to at least the essential life saving items.
Water is Paramount
The body can go for a long time without food but water, on the other hand, is paramount for you to surviving. When I met with April at Earthquake Solutions, she advised purchasing (or making) a water purifier and drum to store water and recommended that you have at least 1 gallon of drinking water per person per day and extra for pets according to size. So for a family of 3 with pets (who I am going to consider my three add up to an extra person) you would need 4 gallons a day for 30 days to get a months supply. For those that may have already done the math, that’s 120 gallons of water. If you are in an area where getting drinkable water may be a problem in a major emergency, like say a massive earthquake, then you may want to consider beefing up your water supply.
Food: Hungry Anyone?
Another item you may want to consider stocking up on is food. Right behind water, food is the next important essential of survival. It is responsible for our energy. Consider sources of high calorie food supplies that provide essential vitamins and minerals but also have long shelf life. The emergency food bars are a good option. If you are opting for food supplies that has to be cooked, you will want to make sure that you not only have a cooking vehicle like a camping stove but also the fuel source it would need.
Speaking of fuel, you may also want to consider a generator of some sort. I know my aunt and uncle who live in Maine have a generator to fuel the whole house since long winters can freeze pipes and cause blackouts and energy loss. We have one in case we find ourselves without power for sustained periods of time. Again, you will want to make sure you also have the fuel needed to power it for at least one month.
I Gotta Go!
Okay so this may seem gross but if power is not working and plumbing is caput, toilets aren’t going to be functioning. And trust me you will want a place for the waste we produce. And really, it should be away from your food, water and living supplies. Now, if you were like I was as a kid on 20 acres of land, then its not so difficult to go dig a hole somewhere. BUT if you are like me and current sitch living on a plot of land smaller than an acre and most of it is taken up by my house footprint, digging a hole will only work for so long…especially with two boys in my house. Having a way to get rid of waste is important. A generator works well to keep things flowing. But there is also these pretty interesting waste disposal bags for emergencies that actually solidify your waste into bricks. These are an option to consider if you are not in a position to dig a hole or have a generator.
While not so much the case in a natural disaster, emergency cash is essential for other disasters that require you to leave your home. For example, a friend of ours had a small house fire from a cooking accident that caused a lot of smoke damage. They were asked to leave the home for a period of two weeks while the insurance company accessed the damage and do the repairs. Luckily they had family to take them in. However, many people live states away from their relations so this would not be an option. While insurance does reimburse you for your damage to your home, they may not reimburse your hotel fees. And even if they do, the reimbursement will come much later than you actually incurring the expense. Having an emergency fund in your savings is extremely important. Depending on the size and needs of your family, I would suggest having at least one month’s worth of income set aside for life emergencies. (Please note, this is separate from the funds you set aside to cover 6 months to a years worth of expenses if you were to loose your job).
Have a Plan
I know I have said this before, but planning is so important. A disaster is not the time to be figuring out what you are and should be doing. Meet with your family and determine what is the way your family will handle such disasters. Is there an external meeting area? If we were asked to leave our home, like hurricane Katrina, what would we want to take with us? Where would we head – family? an out of the area hotel? What are the important things to do to prepare our home? If we get separated, what do we do? Who do we call? Where do we go? (These last few questions are really important to establish with children in case you are separated.) If its a hunker down type of emergency, is our house hold prepared? Do we have the supplies we need? If not, do we know how we will get them? These and other questions are important to answer before an emergency happens. The more prepared you are, the less likely to panic and more likely to stay safe.