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Emergency Preparedness Thread (Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient when the Unexpected Happens)

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
So, we've been thinking more and more about what to do if there should be some sort of disruption in the supply chain, or we would get stuck in a blizzard, or... etc. etc. DP and I aren't super-paranoid, but now especially with a LO, and all the crises (financial, oil spill, crazy weather), it seems to make sense just to get things together.

I've started out reading Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient when the Unexpected Happens and I wondered if others who have good experience with this or would like to get things together for emergency preparedness wanted to post here about how you have done it or what you would like to do. Books? Plans? Ideas? I'll do a follow up post with the things we are thinking about. Anyone join in!

p.s. If this duplicates a currently active thread, just tell me. I looked around and couldn't find one.
p.p.s. I looked around for the best place to post this and there was another thread suggesting that emergency preparedness go in the Mindful Home. Happy to move if there is a better place.
post #2 of 20
Thread Starter 

List in Progress

Long Term
  • We'd like to grow our own food and can and store it. This is on hold until at least next summer, but something to think about. Two key books seem like The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! by Carleen Madigan and Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation by Sharon Astyk

  • We're trying to get a good month's supply of food stored up. We are using whole grain pasta, quinoa, these dried bean things we really like (Dr. McDougall's Right Foods Vegan Black Bean & Lime Soup), peanut butter, canned soups, red beans, black beans, rice... I think we will get fruits and veggies that are dehydrated and can be reconstituted. Need to look into all of this more including a more comprehensive list. One thing that Kathy Harrison notes in her book is to store things that you will eat and are used to eating (with the OAR method - Organize, Acquire, Rotate) since if you are in the middle of a crisis, the last thing you need is a totally weird eating routine with lots of gross foods you aren't used to.
  • Something to cook food on that doesn't require electricity. Need to research best option. We have a fire place, but this doesn't seem like a good long term solution to cooking if there were to be an extended need to cook without electricity. We rent, so we can't really install any sort of more permanent fixture.

  • We need to find a good heating source if the electricity were to out in the winter. We have a fire place, but I think that would only keep the living room warm and will require that we store up quite some wood. Perhaps a kerosene heater? Need to look into this more.

  • I am pretty sure our water is dependent on an electric pump. We need to store a month's supply of drinking/cooking water. We live near a lake so can use that to wash clothes or for other purposes if needed.
  • Need to get water purification kit
  • Think we will get a rain water collection barrel.

  • We'd like to get several very well insulated sleeping bags.
  • Need to make emergency packs that we can grab and jump in car in the event of leaving quickly. (Kathy Harrison details this all in her book much better. I am typing in the dark while LO sleeps right now, so I will flesh all this out later - first steps of brainstorming)
  • Need to keep a better stockpile of cat food for six kitties.
  • Need to come up with a diaper plan - we cloth diaper and can't wash without electricity. Question is if we want to buy a month's supply of disposables or consider getting a hand powered washer. In the event of a longer time without electricity, it might be nice to have a hand powered washer in order to keep clothes clean? Hmm. Need to think on this one.

Well, that is just a start. More to come.... Looking forward to feedback from others who are on top of this or others who are thinking about it and want to join in!
post #3 of 20
Count me in!

Growing food - um, yeah. This is our first year having a garden, I know I need to learn these skills when it's not something I have to depend on. Going along with this is pressure canning (so far I've just done stock), it's a skill that I need to learn. As well as seed saving (obviously using non-hybrid seeds). I'll check our local library and see if they have those two books you mentioned.

Water - I know this is a big one and one of my primary concerns. We have a small 72 hour supply of water on hand in case of a short-term emergency where the water supply is compromised. I'm in the Pacific NW where it is typically pretty rainy, except for a month or two in the summer. We have installed two rain barrels and I would like to get a couple more installed. I'm looking to buy a Berkey water filter for home use, right now we only have a very small Katadyn Hiker Pro filter that is in the emergency kit in the car.

Food - We're working on building up our food storage. We have about a month worth on hand right now, depending a lot on beans, rice, some canned soups and tuna, hard red wheat, dry milk, dried veggies and fruits. I'm going to be canning some more things (and possibly meat) to include/rotate in the storage. These are things that we regularly include in our diet so it wouldn't be an extreme change. Our grain mill is electric, but I also have a hand-crank mill. We have a lot of work to do in this area! Where are you looking at getting your dehydrated fruits & veggies? I'm always looking for new sources for them. Still working on a method for cooking the food, I can see where a volcano stove would be useful but that doesn't seem like a long-term solution.

Heat - We also have fireplaces, but only one of them is efficient in heating a room. I would like to get a woodstove installed in the living room, where the inefficient fireplace is. That would also give an option for cooking. That's something to save up for though, plus DH retires from the military in 2 years and I'm not sure if we'll be staying in this area or moving.

I'll be back later for more, DD2 is waking up from her nap.
post #4 of 20
This has been on my mind alot - especially because I lost my job about a year ago and it would have been nice to have a much larger supply of food etc., on hand to help get by especially in the first couple of months.

Gardening and preserving: We need to start this soon - luckily we have an extended growing season, so I have about another week or so to get my butt in order and get back out to the garden to prepare it again. Last year when strawberries were super cheap, I bought several pounds and canned some jam just to relearn that skill from childhood. This year my mom has a humungous tomato crop growing and we plan to can some tomato sauces. Can't wait!! I've also read about canning meat - but don't currently have a pressure canner to do it safely.

General Food Storage: I do try to buy extra groceries whenever possible. Coupons make this so much easier. It really comes in handy on the slim budget months. Still we have way more in the freezer than I'd like because if we really were without electricity for a few days, we'd probably be able to grill and feed the entire neighborhood for a few days. We also try to keep a few bags of ice in the deep freeze at all times so that if something does happen, we at least have some temporary way to keep food cold.

Bug Out Bag: We live in a flood plain, granted in the desert - but it is possible that we may have to leave home, fast. We are working on getting bug-out bags together just in case we have to leave - these include medical supplies, personal hygiene stuff, etc. Dh went down to help during Rita and some of the things they coveted the most in the days after, living in the sweltering humid heat were simple things like baby powder and vaseline. This includes getting packs for the dogs to carry too which would include their food, colapsable bowls, booties, medical supplies, extra tags and leashes, etc. Dh's truck is also a 4x4 partially for this purpose.

Water: Huge, huge, huge. We do have some set aside - but found that just setting the gallon jugs of water in storage didn't work. They tended to leak all over my pantry. So, now we're looking at alternative options.

Cooking: We have 2 grills - propane and charcoal, but I have also studied alternatives like solar ovens. Seems simple enough to make yourself at home - but if I ever get my little homestead, I'll have one built into the side of my kitchen wall.

Even in the winter heat isn't that big of a deal here, but we should probably find some way to stay cool in the sweltering 120+ degree heat. Maybe we need to get some of those personal fans? I'll look into that.\

ETA: One of the books that I really like is the American Frugal Housewife by Lydia Child. Originally published in 1832. I found it at my local library originally, plus you can buy it online or google books has it for free.
post #5 of 20
For purchases of bulk foods or dehydrated foods the best site I've found is:

For most of the purchases look at:
www.emergencyessentials.com (www.beprepared.com is the same site just a different link)

The Berkey is the best in water filters and not that expensive. Cheaper ways to have safe water until you could get one though are chlorine, iodine, or solar pasteurization.

For cooking solar would be the cheapest method until you could get something better. Lots of good info at:

Gardening and canning food for storage is great but make sure they are heirloom seeds so that seed saving is an option. Walmart sells a decent pressure canner for about $70 if you don't already have one.

The biggest thing to consider for emergency preparedness is what kind of emergency are you planning for? Long term crisis or short term. Something where you would stay in place or would bug out/evacuation be necessary? Depending on the situation it's usually best to have prepared for either. I have a lot more information if you want to pm me or if you have specific questions.
post #6 of 20
Originally Posted by brittneyscott View Post
The Berkey is the best in water filters and not that expensive. Cheaper ways to have safe water until you could get one though are chlorine, iodine, or solar pasteurization.
My mom has a Berkey and loves it. For now dh and I have individual filtered water bottles, but getting a Berkey is a goal.

Has anyone considered feminine needs during an emergency? I know alot of the mdc'ers do diva cups - but I'm more of a maxi pad girl myself, and was thinking that for a potential long term emergency, it might make sense to make them? Well, I've been thinking about making these for myself to use instead of store bought ones for a while now anyway. What do you think? http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/sanitarypads.htm
post #7 of 20
Hopefully either next month or in August we'll get our Berkey, I'm just trying to make sure it's as much of a priority to DH as it is to me.

I've looked into the solar ovens too, I think it would be good for some of the sunny summer days here but there would be a large portion of the year where it woudn't be useful. If we still lived in coastal SC or GA then it would definitely be nice!

I'm a Diva cup girl myself, but I do have some mama cloth as backup. That just goes right back into the "but what about washing" part of the equation. I know a lot of people plan on using a 5 gallon bucket with a (dedicated!) plunger. I'm keeping an eye out on Craigslist for a wringer.

Soooooo..... what about waste? (Bodily waste, not trash. )
post #8 of 20
I LOVE Sharon Astyk's book Independence Days and I read her blog. She has a lot of good advice. She isn't all into the doom and gloom/zombies are coming outlook that you often find in this topic. She's very down to earth.

I suppose the first place to start is to think about what could happen to you locally. For us, it's the possibility that our power would go out meaning we have no heat, no cooking, no water (well), no lights etc. We are working on insulating our house really well, then we want to look into getting a wood stove which would solve the cooking/heating issue. If you do lack heating, think about how your home is set up... maybe you can close off sections. If it's getting *really* cold, you could always turn off your water/drain pipes. I still remember what it was like during the ice storm of '98. Some people went a VERY long time without electricity and were very unprepared for it.

I would also keep plenty of food around in case you're snowed in or can't get to the store for some reason. Or in case anything happens to the 'food chain'.

Ultimately, we would love to have our own energy source (we have a lot of wind here so leaning towards that). I wouldn't expect to be able to run a huge house with every appliance going on it, but enough to get water, (would love to have a hand pump actually), have some lighting, and use minor appliances.

We are moving towards a simpler life. We have a small house, 1/3 of an acre in the country, I'm putting in a pretty big garden, stocking up on local produce when it's in season (strawberries soon!) and learning different ways of preserving food. (Sharon's book was great for this!) Sadly, I think most of our food will go into the freezer this year, but I'd like to learn more about dehydrating, root cellaring and some canning.
post #9 of 20
My emergency plan is going to look at bit different. We just downsized from our house, sold it and moved into an apartment. There aren't any real disasters to worry about too much here in Southern GA. Perhaps a hurricane will come close but by the time it hits here it won't be much but high winds and rain, not a real hurricane anymore. We have power outages occasionally. So our emergency plans are more about adapting in place. We are a military family who moves often and rents our home. So we have to be ready to leave and have somewhere to go. In a true emergency here where living at the apartment isn't safe we have to leave. My sister is 4 hours away, we have friends here in town that we could stay with, we actually have friends in all corners of the world due to military, or hotels. We have tents if we need them.

Short term Plans:

I have a Berkey water filter, I'm on city water at the apartment that runs even if the power is out (I think! I just moved in here, that's usually how it works on city water). I can collect rain water somehow (depending on where I am) and use the Berkey to make it drinkable.

I always keep my gas tank above half a tank.

I keep a bag packed in the closet by the front door that includes: 2 changes of clothes for dd and I (dh will most likely NOT be able to leave with us, as he'll be a first responder in case of emergency or disaster), flashlights, batteries, water bottles (empty-I would have to fill them before we leave) and pack up the Berkey, granola-ish food bars, first aid kit, my address/phone book, fleece blanket, sunblock, ziploc of dog food, portable dog water bowl, TP, pads, wipes, and a note telling me what else I have to grab-- I would also grab our important papers safe box, laptop and cables, and medications when we went to leave.

We keep a stash of emergency funds and silver around.

I have about a month's worth of food in the pantry. Though I'm trying to use some of it up right now since my pantry is about a third of the size of the one at our house that we sold.

I have a small potty in the car that dd and I could use (me with much difficulty ).
I have a 2 GPSs and 2 atlases in the car. Plus I know my way around the southeast usa pretty good. Also have jumper cables, spare tire, and flat tire fluid in the car. I also have a converter power cord so that I could use my laptop in the car lighter.

Other than that it's all about getting out of Dodge.

My long term plan:

We have no debt and plan on keeping it that way.
Continue to build up savings.

We are planning on buying either land (acreage) or a home sometime within the next couple of years. If we go with the house we will rent it out (since we can't live there because we're military and it's not going to be in GA). If we buy land we will just hold onto it for awhile. This is all going to be done in cash.

In 5 years at retirement, we are either going to live in the house we'd been renting, or build a FirstDay Cottage (or similar) on our land.

Grow a garden, can, and all that jazz..

In the meantime, I do have a patio garden where I'm playing. I am building up a small set of skills that might be handy someday:

I can crochet, sew, cook just about anything, build and use a solar oven (tested this last summer ), preserve some foods, know how and use many herbal medicines. I'm working on more every day!
post #10 of 20
Originally Posted by Red Sonja View Post
I'm keeping an eye out on Craigslist for a wringer.

Soooooo..... what about waste? (Bodily waste, not trash. )
Craiglist is sometimes such a great place to find things like your wringer. And as far as waste goes - we have a Luggable Loo. Basically it's a toilet seat on a bucket. Great for camping, or when you need to use it. You can get the whole deal for about $18, or just the seat for around $13. We have the seat on one of those cheap Home Depot buckets (sometimes saving $3 is a big deal. ) and keep extra garbage bags, tp and baby wipes in it so it's ready to go at a moment's notice. Dh has little velcro strips he uses to keep it upright in the truck bed when we do use it.

HeatherAtHome: great thinking w/ the energy source. We're in the desert so we're thinking about eventually getting something solar. Like you said, go with what you have available.

marimara: We haven't yet bought anything like silver or gold, but are considering it. Why did you choose silver alone and not a combination? Is it the always needed by industry arguement or for some other reason? We do have an emergency fund on hand (I like to keep smaller bills - my dad was in MS during Katrina and talked about having issues w/ bills larger than $20's).

We've also been looking at land - for about 2 years now and are still coming up empty handed. Granted, we're not ready to move anywhere yet - we're working on the funds and finding just the right place. The truth is that we'll probably end up in Norther AZ - just because it's closer - but I'd love to get a little homestead back in the midwest, close to where I grew up. Better access to water, better hunting if needed, etc.
post #11 of 20
By far the best site I have seen is http://theplacewithnoname.com/blogs/klessons/index.html Very extensive. And not a tin foil hat in sight. ) I'll be back to post more later.
post #12 of 20
Homemade Berkey Tutorial:

You still have to buy the actual Berkey filters, which are the spendy part, and its not stainless, rather food grade plastic, but if lack of funds is an issue I think its a good alternative to nothing.
post #13 of 20
Does anyone have a recommendation for a non-electric grain grinder that works reasonably well?
post #14 of 20
fierrbugg: I would make the cloth sanitary pads to have on hand.

Red Sonja: The Lovable loo a pp mentioned or something similar is a good idea. Basically just a composting toilet. 'The Humanure Handbook' is a good resource for it and can be found online for free along with plans to make a compostable toilet.

jennlyn: I really like the Corona grain mill. It's non electric and very heavy duty. I found mine for I think about $40 with shipping and all and LOVE it!!!

Keeping money in smaller bills and change is always a good idea. If there is a disturbance then stores (if you can get to them and they have ANY thing at all) will not have registers running and won't be able to make change most likely.

Its a good idea to be prepared for disaster even if you think you are in a 'safe' zone. Normally we only get bad thunderstorms or possibly tornadoes here. No big deal and lights only out for a couple of days at most. We are too far inland for hurricanes but... Katrina hit us as a Category 3 still and tore this place apart. Out of lights, water, and all for more than 2 weeks and longer in some areas. No where had lights for over an hour from here in all directions. It was awful. Trying to get to the Red Cross or any one else for help was a disaster. Long lines, everyone needing help, and not enough help to go around. Cars were lining roads everywhere from having run out of gas. Trees and debris all over. We were luckily in the country and mostly ready so we made it through alright but the biggest thing was the heat. Severe threat of heat stroke in 100+ degree heat with NO cooling or free water source. A lot of people spent time at the creeks/rivers around so those places will be crowded if they are in your plans.
post #15 of 20
My DH is in the military his unit basically helps out when the *&^( hits the fan. So needless to say were overly concerned with being prepared and at least somewhat self sufficient for at least a few days.

1.GPS that also does coordinates. We bought several local maps and literally went to the *safe* designated places in our area and wrote down the coordinates. remember in a disaster there may be no roads/highways. You will need to get to these places possibly on foot so knowing their coordinates and having the ability to use a gps with that capability is very helpful. We marked down the local school shelters, red cross crisis mtg areas police/fire stations and what not.

2. we do have some bleach in our house. I know mdc'ers generally frown on it but we would use in our port o potty and if in a pinch to clean. After floods you may literally have sewage in your home and honestly that isnt the time I would want to be mixing vinegar/water to clean.

3. generator. I have one that at least could sustain our freezer/fridge on short intervals for days. We are looking into getting a solar one for more independence. That being said we also keep our vehicles nearly full all the time. If we had to we would siphon the gas out of the 2nd vehicle. we also have a siphon.

4. Believe it or not DH's propane grill is considered one of our emergency items. If need be will cook outside, the burners could boil water. We store extra propane tanks full. After one hurricane we got really tired of eating cold food for 7 days.
post #16 of 20
What did you guys think about the computer stuff from the Learning from Katrina site I posted? http://theplacewithnoname.com/blogs/klessons/index.html Have any of you done this stuff? Its something I am behind on doing. I was thinking about signing up for Mozy or something
post #17 of 20
Originally Posted by luv-my-boys View Post

2. we do have some bleach in our house. I know mdc'ers generally frown on it but we would use in our port o potty and if in a pinch to clean. After floods you may literally have sewage in your home and honestly that isnt the time I would want to be mixing vinegar/water to clean.

i keep bleach in the house for this very reason, I don't have a lot i guess a gallon, and i too use it every few months on the white laundry, but it is really there for emergencies.

another thing many people forget about is that they do have an automatic 30 or so gallon water reserve in their hot water heater (as long as isn't tankless), you just need to know how to drain the water out. Luckily dh had to fix a part on our wh when we first moved in and had to completely drain it, so he knows how to do it if we ever needed it .

We stockpile food, basic household items and , I am still teaching myself to garden etc.

and most importantly we are working on eliminating all DEBT, that is one of the most important areas aside from food/water. Being debt free will enable you to live easier if something bad happened.
post #18 of 20
Haven't reread this thread so not sure if it's been mentioned:

If you use water from your water heater during a power outage, make sure you turn the breaker off to the water heater so that when the power comes back on it's not heating it up an empty tank.
post #19 of 20
I have not done so yet bc I live on campus/ rent... but I know several families who hook up old, broken water heaters to the incoming water supply. One friend has 3 in succession, thus he has 150 gallons of clean water at any given time without purifying (unless the well/ cistern is compromised).

He gets them for under $10, and one of them, he was actually paid to haul off!

I appreciate all the posts bc I have the skills and a month or 2 of food, but I need to be taking prep more seriously.

ty all for sharing.

post #20 of 20
I'm loving this thread, although trying to think about all the possibilities and what we'd need to do to prepare is overwhelming.

I have several books on reserve at the library b/c of this thread, and hopefully even more people will chime in. In the meantime, I need to organize my thoughts more...
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Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Emergency Preparedness Thread (Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient when the Unexpected Happens)