October always reminds us of some of the scariest things out there. Ghosts, goblins, zombies, that sort of thing. But, I think most of us would agree, the state of the world is far scarier than anything those images could conjur up!
Emergency preparedness is something that I am absolutely passionate about. Having lived on the East Coast for so long, I’ve experienced first hand what can happen in an emergency situation. Whether it be a freak storm, a massive hurricane, or a pandemic, they are all completely out of our control. It can leave you feeling a little helpless.
I’ve learned that while things that can happen to us are out of our hands, one thing we always have control over is how well we are prepared for the unknown. Seems crazy to think you can prepare for anything that you don’t see coming, but there are definitely ways you can help alleviate being caught off guard.
A snow or ice storm coming can quickly deplete grocery shelves of the basics. A pandemic can eliminate toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Gasoline shortages and power supplies can be impacted in an instant. One common thing I have noticed in an emergency situation is how quickly food disappears. I’ve always grown up with the concept it is a great idea to have a good supply of food on hand in case of an emergency. While at one point in my life, that might have seemed excessive to have tons of food sitting around, it doesn’t seem so crazy now. I’m not talking about hoarding food or becoming a crazed, obsessive prepper. I am simply talking about having some supplies on hand to help you be prepared.
When Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey in 2012, I was surprised to find out most of my neighbors did not keep a stocked pantry. Even families that had a lot of children. Extra basics like peanut butter and canned goods weren’t something most people had on hand. Frequent grocery trips or eating out at restaurants are very common where I lived. So there was never really a reason to keep a lot of food on hand. We were all used to the convenience of always being able to find what you wanted, whenever you wanted it. That changed with this storm.
Even before the power was cut, store shelves depleted rapidly. What items were left on the shelves (which weren’t many), after the storm quickly disappeared or refrigerated items had to be thrown out. We all hoped that power would be restored quickly, but it wasn’t. There wasn’t even access to many roads. If you were lucky, you had a generator to run your home. But aggressive 24 hour use of home generators quickly made it so there was a gas shortage. Gas started being rationed and you could only get gas certain days of the week, determined by your license plate numbers. Where I lived, this went on for over two weeks!
We, as well as many of my neighbors, only had an electric stove, so if you didn’t have any power, you could not cook indoors. Many people were left without a way to keep foods from spoiling or to cook what they had before it did spoil. It was not fun!
We had been through a similar situation exactly one year before when a rare late October snowstorm took out the power for 10 days. At that point in time, we were unprepared for anything. In fact, my world was left a mess. I had stocked up on groceries thinking I had plenty of food to get through a snowstorm and have some yummy meals planned. I had no idea (as I had only lived in that house a few months) that power outages could occur so easily and frequently. Within a couple of hours of the start of the storm, all power was lost. I was left in the middle of a messy kitchen. I had prepared a large meal, which had been in the oven, portions cooking on the stove, and a mountain of dishes I was just about to tackle.
Living in the country, when the power went out, water and septic was also out. I had no way to clean up the mess I was in the middle of making. I also had a huge pile of laundry that I was working on. These things may not seem so bad, but a pile of dishes with no water and a load of laundry left standing in inches of water in the washer can only be left for so long. I had no idea it would be 10 days!
It was a very rough 10 days. It was cold, my house was not left in functioning condition, let alone nice and clean as I like it to be. I had no generator to run anything, and none could be located anywhere. My grocery haul spoiled in our refrigerator and I was also left with no way to heat food. All the basics we take for granted, gone. Time moved very slowly during this time. We were not alone, lots of towns in New Jersey were experiencing the same thing. I just think we might have been the last town to have power restored. There was no school, Halloween was cancelled, and my kids had to find ways to be entertained. Boys love to play outside, but we were left with lots of muddy ground after the snowstorm, so playing outside was fun, but left me with even more of a mess to clean up.
My young kids were great sports and we certainly tried to make the most of the situation we found ourselves in. But, I’m not going to lie. It was hard.
I believe things happen for a reason and that if you experience hard things, there is something to be learned from those situations. When power was restored, we vowed to never let ourselves be in a scenario like that again. My husband and I evaluated our experience and figured out how we could better tackle an extended outage, if we were ever to face one again. We purchased a generator. We made sure that we had a way to hook up the generator to our house. You can have a whole house generator installed, which can be quite costly, but those run on propane and wasn’t an option for our house. We opted instead to have an electrician install hookups to our electrical panel, enabling us to wheel our generator outside and plug into the house. This would make sure we could do the basics like have running water and heat our home. We could also then cook on the stove. But, we wanted another source for cooking. We purchased a specialty grill that we would be able to use as an oven, if necessary.
I decided forever moving forward that if a storm was predicted to come, I would have all my laundry caught up beforehand. Always, no exceptions. You do not want to be left with wet laundry in a washing machine for 10 days and a huge pile of dirty clothes! I also decided that it was very important to me to have a clean home during an emergency. It’s so nice to have order and peace in a bad situation. I always keep paper goods on hand so that we can throw away dishes after we eat, so there are not dishes to clean and waste water on. You learn quickly that water is precious, you don’t want to waste any!
Speaking of water, we always are sure to keep water bottles stored. If a storm is coming, I would fill up a 5 gallon water dispenser and keep it by the sink. It would serve so many purposes, but make it especially easy to wash hands. I would also fill up bathtubs to have a way to scoop water to flush toilets. If you find power is not lost, you can easily drain them and it’s not a big deal. But if you needed water, it is a lifesaver. I always keep a good supply of disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces easily. This is a super easy way to keep on top of messes in an outage, keeping things sanitary.
A huge factor in thinking about emergencies is food. When food spoils or becomes difficult to obtain, you still have to feed everyone. It’s a non-negotiable. Thinking ahead when we discussed what we would do differently, we agreed that having a long-term plan is ideal. You never know when an emergency will occur. You never know what your circumstances will be in those emergencies. Will food be available? Will I be able to cook it? Do we have enough food to provide for the members of our family that will be with us? How long can food be considered safe to eat?
This is where I turn to the experts. We get insurance for our homes and for health in case something happens. When it comes to keeping my family safe and secure, it’s so important. I kind of look at having a long-term emergency plan in this way. I hope to never need to use my insurance, but in case I do, it’s important to have it. I never want to need it and not have it.
If you are looking at emergency preparedness in this fashion, it’s easy to decide to move forward with some sort of action plan. We spend all sorts of money on our other insurance policies and may never use them or only use them sparingly, but the pain of not having them is never worth it. Being left unprepared and unable to take care of necessities is a truly scary thought.
I want to share with you my favorite long-term storage solution for food. ReadyWise is my go-to brand for quality and ease of storage. We tried out their products years ago and have been using them ever since. They are delicious. These freeze dried foods are nutritious and yummy, stored in very smart packaging to keep stored for 25 years! All you need to do is add water! I am a huge fan of their meals. Fruits, veggies, meats, you name it, they pretty much have it. Meals that every member of the family will happily eat like teriyaki rice, cheesy macaroni, and hearty tortilla soup, just to name a few that are included in a variety of assembled kits that all you have to do is purchase and store–keeping you ready at a moment’s notice for just about anything that could be thrown your way. Their quality is amazing and one I highly recommend to everyone.
We love a good theme, so I especially am getting a kick out of their special Zombie Apocalypse Bundle to celebrate October. It’s an amusing way to look at the not-so-funny possibility of needing their contents in an emergency. Don’t get me wrong, though, being prepared is nothing to laugh at.
This bundle consists of two separate 72 hour emergency food supplies. Each box contains 32 servings that all you have to do is add water to make. They last for 25 years! For a very affordable price, you can get some serious peace of mind, knowing that you are actively working on a plan ahead scenario to keep your loved ones safe in case of an emergency.
If you are new to working on a long-term food storage plan, 72 hour kits are great places to start. You can start small, try out the food and see how it will work for you. If you enjoy camping, this 3 Day Adventure Bag is the perfect way to test out a wide variety of meals ( 6 entrees, 3 breakfasts, 3 snacks) packed in a portable bag. It’s perfect for outdoor adventuring, but I like the idea of just purchasing some of these to be able to have easily accessible in the home or to throw in the car, if you were to need to leave your home.
Having a comprehensive bag to grab if you need to evacuate your home quickly is priceless. Unfortunately, this year alone saw many cases of natural disasters such as hurricanes and fires that would necessitate a family to pick up and go with a moment’s notice. You hope to never find yourself in that scenario, but unfortunately, there is no way to know if it could happen to you. It is far better to be prepared.
I love this 64 piece survival backpack that is loaded with 32 servings of food, first aid and hygiene kit, portable stove, water, flashlight, and so much more. It has everything you need to ease the burden of that kind of situation. It is a great idea to get one of these for each member of your family, so they are ready to go.
For situations that could leave you at home for an extended amount of time without access to food–a once unheard of concept, but now, not at all impossible– I swear by their long term storage kits. You can purchase a large grouping of supplies at a discount, packaged in stackable buckets. Or you can start out slow and steady, adding a box or bucket here and there as you are able to, fitting the needs of each individual family.
It’s amazing when you start saving money a little at time, before you know it you have a considerable sum. In this same way, when you start adding components to achieve an emergency preparedness goal, it adds up quickly. If you have the means to purchase an emergency supply all at once, it’s great, of course. You can rest assured that you have your goal met and you will be prepped for something sooner rather than later.
However, not everyone can. I like the idea of setting a goal and each month adding something to your supply. It’s a great way to start. You can budget an amount of money that works for you and pick up items that fit in that range. Each month that you pick out supplies to add to your storage, you just bulk up your “insurance policy” and there is a lot of peace and satisfaction that comes from seeing the progression of your goal. It’s very rewarding to know that you are in control of your actions, even when you have no control of things thrown your way.
When Sandy hit, I was far more prepared for what came my way after our horrible experience the year before. It took a learning curve and some dedication to implementing a preparedness plan, but having my supplies ready to go saved me a lot of turmoil. Just one year later, we found ourselves out of power for 17 days, in a far worse state, damage was severe and extensive, but we had everything we needed to help ourselves and our friends and neighbors, including plenty of food. I am forever grateful that we chose to get prepared.
Now that ten years have passed, I have relocated and reevaluated what my new home needs to be prepared for some new scenarios. Never could I have imagined back in 2012 that we would be living in such uncertain times. So much contention, inflation, insecurity, shortages of supplies, and a pandemic on top of it all. Who knows? Maybe a Zombie Apocalypse isn’t so far fetched after all?! All I know is I want to be prepared for it and want you to be, as well!
*product was received to facilitate a feature, all opinions are my own*