Emergency Preparedness in Your Own Home
With the abundant reports of devastating earthquakes and other such calamities many people wonder, could anything like that happen to me? Am I safe? What should I do to prepare? Idaho is a relatively safe place when it comes to disasters, for instance, we are too far inland for a hurricane or tsunami, the terrain is such that it doesn’t allow for tornadoes to form easily, there is little seismic activity, and, in Boise at least, there isn’t a large chance of blizzards or harsh storms. However safe Idaho is though, it is important to always be prepared. Here we have listed a few things that you can do to increase your emergency preparedness without breaking the bank. Remember, this is not a guaranteed list of things that will prevent you from being hurt, but rather a list of things to help increase your knowledge about disasters and how to go about preparing for them. If you are serious about preparing, do more research for more sure tips and Ideas.
Basics of Emergency Preparedness
Money may not be the first thing you think about when it comes to emergency preparedness, but it is more vital than you think. If any sort of disaster hits you will most likely want to have some money set aside. Dave Ramsey, American financial guru and motivational speaker, suggest that everyone should save 3 – 6 months’ worth of their salary in an emergency fund. It is recommended, however, that you don’t just put the entire fund in one place— like the old adage goes, ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’. It would be best to keep some of the money in your bank account and the rest in your home. That way, if the power is out, or the banks have shut down, you have a little money to use. Again, however, you need to hide this money around your home in different spots so that if your home is burglarized it will be less likely that they will find your whole stash.
Starting Your Emergency Fund: The best way to start an emergency fund is to put a little money aside every paycheck aside from your usual savings. It may not seem like much at first, but over time it will grow large very quickly. There are even some banks that will help you out with this. For instance, some banks will, when you use your debit card, round the amount up to the nearest dollar and deposit the difference into a separate savings account. So, if you bought groceries that cost $15.50 then the bank would pay the store the $15.50 and take $0.50 from your card and put it into a separate savings account. It is a program that is designed to mimic what would happen if you paid with cash. If you handed the cashier $16.00 you would receive two quarters back, you could then put those two quarters into a piggy bank for later. Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU), one of Idaho’s most popular places to bank, offers such a program.
There are a lot of guides online that talk about food storage and what should be stored in it, so if you want more detailed information about it, there is plenty more to learn. Simply put, however, it is recommended that you store at least three months’ worth of the food you eat on a regular basis. So if you have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for lunch, macaroni and cheese for dinner, and a breakfast burrito in the morning, you should have enough peanut butter, jelly, bread, macaroni and cheese, and breakfast burrito fixings to last you three months without going to the store. This way, if you happen to not have enough money for groceries, or get locked into your home, you will have food for three whole months. In order for this food not to go bad, it is recommended that whenever you do your normal shopping trips that you put the food you just bought at the back of the shelf, and eat the food you had bought previously first. It is a technique called FIFO (First in first out) and it is used by grocery stores so that the oldest food on the shelf gets taken fist instead of the freshest stuff.
After you have three months of food, it is recommended that you get at least a years’ worth of staple foods like flour, sugar, rice, beans, and so forth. This will allow you to supplement your refrigerator if you can’t buy as much food as you would like over a years’ time. (The FIFO method should be used here as well).
Starting Your Food Storage: Just like with the money supply, it is recommended that you save a little at a time. This can be done by buying a little extra each time you go to the store until you have the supply stocked up.
72 Hour Kit or Bug Out Bag
The 72 hour kit is an easily transported backpack or bucket that has everything that you would need if you were stranded out in the woods for 3 days. Your kit should have shelter, food and water, clothes, first aid kit, a radio, cash, and general survival tools. Bug out is a common phrase heard among members of the military, emergency preparedness professionals, and preppers that means to ditch everything and run. 72 hour kits are sometimes called bug out bags because they should be packed in a way so that you can grab them and go if you have to.
Your supplies for you shelter can vary. If you have the room to bring a backpacking tent that would probably be your best option. However, if you can’t, you can bring a tarp to make a shelter, or at least a very durable sleeping bag. Being protected from the elements is the most important part of the 72 hour kit because if you don’t have a way to protect yourself from the elements, you will risk injury, death, or illness.
Getting 3 days of food and water that can be grabbed and ran with can seem like a daunting task, but there are a few different products that you can use to make the process a little easier. If you go to an outdoor sports store or a department store that carries camping supplies, you can usually find food for backpackers. This kind of food is great for a 72 hour kit because it is dehydrated to take up less room and not be as heavy. Also, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) are the kinds of food that the military uses for their troops in battle. They are light and full of calories. MREs can be found at most army surplus stores and they have an incredible shelf life as well.
When it comes to clothes, it is best to have clothes that will be adequate in all types of weather. You will want to have pants, shirts (short sleeves and long sleeves), socks, good sturdy shoes, a hat, gloves, and a jacket or two. If you have room for it, you might also consider packing a coat—winter time is a terrible time to realize you should have brought a coat.
A first aid kit is an important part of the 72 hour kit. During an emergency, a lot of the time, people get hurt, and you will want to be able to treat them. You can buy first aid kits at almost any store, or you can make your own—just be sure that it has all the necessary supplies.
You will also want a radio in your kit so that you can get any information you can from the authorities about the disaster. In most cases, local governments will broadcast information about the disasters like where a refugee center has been set up, how much longer a storm is expected to last, etc. (Make sure that you can either charge the battery of your radio with a crank, or that you have extra batteries packed away. If you don’t put the batteries into the radio, but just have them in the kit with it, then they will most likely last longer).
General survival tools include pocket knives, matches, flint and steel, a compass or two, maps, a water filtration system, emergency medical blankets (the ones that look like aluminum foil), 50+ feet of rope (parachute cord is effective, small, and inexpensive), flashlights (with extra batteries), basic medications, granola bars, and the ever mighty duct tape. Basic survival kits can also be found at most sporting goods stores and the Boise Army Navy store.
Different Kinds of Emergencies and Disasters
The first, and most important step in preparing for an emergency is to know what you are up against—to identify what kind of disasters or emergencies you need to look out for and how they affect you. For example there are natural disasters like earthquakes, storms, and tornados, there are also medical emergencies like epidemics, and lastly there are social emergencies like riots and other civil unrest. However, there is another type of disaster that a lot of people do not think about when it comes to emergency preparedness and that is a financial disaster. This is probably the most common emergency that United States citizens experience and it is likely the least prepared for. In this article we will go over some basic tips for being more prepared for these situations. Again, there is no guarantee that if you follow these steps that you will be perpetually protected from disaster, but rather that you will be far likely to fair better when the disaster when it strikes.
For many people, the reality of how devastating a natural disaster can be is ever present. Natural disasters are known to strike at any moment and sweep through nations without warning. If you want to be fully prepared to the best of your abilities for a natural disaster, do more research other than this article—there is much more to learn. www.ready.gov/natural-disasters is the government’s website and it gives great advice for people on natural disasters and how to prepare for them. It is important that you study it if you are serious about preparing. Here are a few tips, however, to get yourself moving in the right direction.
- Have a Plan
The most important part of emergency preparedness is education. Get educated about natural disasters and how they work, that way you can have a plan for when the time comes. You need to have a plan for each kind of disaster. Fires and earthquakes are going to require a different kind of plan than tornadoes and floods. The most major disasters that you could have to endure in Boise are: a house fire, flooding, winter storms, earthquakes, and, not very likely, a tornado.
Just having the information is not enough. You need to also practice what you need to do in case of a disaster. So, once you have a plan in place for each disaster, be sure to practice it and quiz yourself regularly on your procedures.
A house fire can happen in many different ways. They can start because of bad wiring, a lightning strike, or even a mistake in the kitchen. A house fire, no matter how small, can do untold amounts of damage on a person’s home, so it is paramount that you call the fire department as soon as you can. Aside from calling the fire department, a good plan would be to have a place picked out beforehand where you and everyone else living in your house will meet once they have escaped the flames. So, when a fire does occur, you can easily get everyone out and know they are safe quicker and easier. It is best that you pick a spot that is near your home like the front yard of a neighbor’s house, that way the paramedics can check you out as the firefighters take care of the blaze.
Just like the fire drills that school kids participate in multiple times a year, it is important that you practice what you will do in case of a fire. That way, when the time comes that you need it, you know what you are to do.
Remember to never try and get possessions out of the house before you escape. This can be very dangerous. It is suggested that you keep your 72 hour kit or bug out bag near the door of your home, or by your bed, so you can easily grab them and get out of the house without having to take time to look for them.
The idea for floods is very similar to house fires, especially in the case of a flash flood. If your neighborhood is flooding, get your 72 hour kit or bug out bag and head for high ground. It may be good to plan with a family member or friend beforehand so that you will have a place to stay in case of an emergency. If you have time to prepare before the flood comes, try and put as much of your stuff on cinderblocks or up on shelves so that they have a higher chance of surviving the catastrophe.
Severe storms can be a problem here in Boise. Though they are not regular, they are still possible. A plan, however, of what you are going to do in the case of a severe storm will have to depend on the kind and severity of the storm. But, for the most part, you can easily stay in your home for protection. This is when your food supplies will come in handy because, no matter how long the storm lasts, it will not be longer than your three months’ supply of food can take care of you.
It is important to keep your radios or televisions on during a severe storm so you can get updates. That way if the storm is predicted to worsen, you will be able to get out if you need to.
In recent years, there have been many medical scares—the most recent being the Ebola scare of 2014 and the swine flu outbreak in 2010. And the only thing that can be said for them is that they are unpredictable and could potentially spread quickly. Some things that you can do to prepare are 1) to keep yourself up to date on your vaccinations, 2) stock up on food and clean water so you do not have to leave your home as often, and 3) stock up on gloves and masks to wear outside if you need them.
As we have seen in the last year, riots can be brought on in an instant, however, the possibility that a riot or any other civil unrest will occur in Idaho is very low. To prepare for an instance like this, however, it is advised that you continue to stock up on food, water, and cash so that you can stay in your home and off the streets. NOTE: During a period of civil unrest, do not leave your home. Stay inside for your own safety, unless it is unsafe there as well.
If you have to leave, be sure to leave quickly and take your 72 hour kits or bug out bags with you. Have a secondary location outside the city that you can go to like a relative’s home, a cabin, or just another city. It is also important to know what the experts suggest for what to do during an episode of civil unrest, so look online and study different plans that you think may be effective for you.
Economies can be fickle things and many people lose their jobs every year due to budget cuts, layovers, and outsourcing. Not to mention an unexpected accident or surgery that will could set you back, or inflation and other economic stresses place a lager strain on nation. In order to keep yourself out of debt and to keep yourself afloat if you happen to become a victim of a financial crisis there are a few suggestions that might be worth your while.
Though many of these techniques have been discussed previously in this article, it is important to reiterate them. The first is building a financial reserve. If you have three to six month’s salary saved up for a rainy day, you will be that much better off during a financial disaster, which will give you valuable time to get everything in order before you need to rely on credit cards. The second is to keep up your food and water storage. With a financial reserve, and a strong food storage system you can weather nearly any financial storm.
It is important to note that emergency preparedness cannot be learned in one sitting. Do yourself a favor and continue to research and prepare so that you will be ready in the case of a disaster. It is also important to keep in mind that Idaho is a safe state, but it is always wise to be prepared in some way.