Crossing the Finish Line: How Do You Know When You Have? | Easy Peasy Preparedness

Crossing the Finish Line: How Do You Know When You Have?

There is this show, Doomsday Bunkers, on The Discovery Channel that I find fascinating. It chronicles this construction company that specializes solely in building bunkers. Each one is unique and designed specifically to the client’s wishes. They range in complexity from a simple underground room with some water and food stocked up in it all the way to a full home with multiple rooms, a kitchen, entertainment center, pantry, water filtration, and purification system, and an air filtering system that is sensitive enough to remove radioactivity from the air.

The bunkers themselves and the engineering that goes into them fascinate me but I enjoy “meeting” the people that purchase them just as much. These are good men and women who have a real desire to protect their families and feel that building/purchasing a bunker is the best way to do it. On a few episodes, the owner remarks “now I can sleep at night because I know that I’m prepared” after the bunker is installed. Why can they sleep? Because of the peace of mind being prepared brings to them.

I have a good friend who has developed an action plan to keep his family safe in preparation for the zombie apocalypse. He loves the idea of zombies attacking and, though it is mostly playful, he wants to make sure that he can keep his wife and children safe if the worst case happens.

For me it is not about having a bunker or being able to protect my family from zombies. Being prepared for me is about being able to meet my family’s needs should a natural disaster strike. Things like owning a generator to power my home, the ability to obtain and purify water for drinking, food to eat, and heating during the cold winter months are on the top of my list of what I need to do to be prepared.

What I am trying to illustrate is that being prepared is different for each of us. Feeling prepared depends on a lot of things and is a very personal thing. There are core parts of any preparedness plan—like a family communication plan, some short-term supplies like a 72-hour kit, a way to communicate, etc.—that we should all have but beyond that, it becomes extremely specific to each of our family’s unique needs.

Here is another example. My little sister and her husband have been married for a little over a year and a half. They do not have any children and live in a very small apartment. They do not currently feel the need to have a year’s supply of food. There is not the space in their apartment and they do not have the money to purchase it right now. My and wife and I, however, have the money and have space. On top of that, we feel the need for our family.

“So how do I know when I am prepared enough?”

Great question! Thank you for asking it.

You know when you are prepared when you think about the future and feel peace; to quote a well-known phrase “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” That is how you know when you have done enough and you can say that you are prepared because you feel at peace.

My invitation to you today is to stop reading and take a minute to reflect on your current state of preparedness. Do you feel at peace? If not, let’s begin working together to get there.

It is not hard to be prepared but it can be complicated. Let me help take some of the complexity out of it. Follow the baby steps until you do feel peace.

Do you have a family communication plan? A 72-hour kit? A way to communicate with others and find out what is going on in the world?

If the answer is yes, awesome! If the answer is no, start now.

Being prepared is different for everyone. Some need a bunker and others merely a can opener. The point is not that we should all have the same things and prepare in the same way. It is that we should all be prepared and that means something different to each of us and our families. That is our goal: to be prepared. And how do I know that I have crossed the preparedness “finish line”? Because I feel at peace.

Preparedness is the goal. Peace is the reward.

Peace awaits you. Now go get it.

One Step at a Time: Gander Mountain’s Contribution to My 72 Hours

Preparedness BackpackMonday was Memorial Day and I was lucky to the have the day off of work. As is typical on the widely acknowledged first day of summer we did some yard work, attended a cook-out with some of our good friends, and enjoyed being together as a family.

My wife and I did our best to teach our sons about Memorial Day and how it is a holiday that is much more than just fun. It is an additional opportunity to honor the brave men and women who have fought and died to make and protect this great nation.

Because the oldest is only six  (and the other three are four, two, and nine months) we are not sure how much of what we taught them actually sunk in but we tried. And we will keep trying every year. We feel it is extremely important to remember those that went before us and gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy the liberties we do today.

In addition to the normal Memorial Day traditions and goings-on, we took a trip to a really cool store. I had not been there before but had wanted to go for some time: Gander Mountain.

The kids and I loved it! And my wife did a good job enjoying us enjoy it. So many awesome manly things. The boys wanted to buy everything. Tents, sleeping bags, kayaks, guns, knives, you name it. It was pretty cool.

Our visit to Gander Mountain wasn’t just for fun though. We went with a purpose. We needed to buy a few things for our mini-72 hour kits (one for the car and one for my office).

We weren’t able to pick up everything we needed (for example, we ran over to Sam’s Club to buy some granola bars and candy bars) but we picked up quite a bit. We purchased compasses, tarps, some ponchos, a couple of neat emergency blankets, and a flashlight.

We are planning on going to Walmart to pick up the last few things we need for the two kits. We’ll get a couple of cheap backpacks, water purification tablets, a couple of whistles, and a few other little odds and ends to complete our kits. We plan to do that this coming week (I’ve been out of town at a conference for my work this week so the kits were put on hold).

I’m excited because when these kits are done we’ll get to move on to the next thing and we will be one step closer to being prepared.

Speaking of being prepared, since our trip to Gander Mountain my boys keep asking when we are going to get some kayaks. I’ll have to figure out which preparedness step kayaks fit into.

72 Hour Kits for Your Car and Work

72 Hour Kits for your car
family in the mountains by car

Last post I shared how my family ended up with our 72-hour kit and a list of what is in it.

When my wife and I finished putting together our family’s 72-hour kit I asked her where we would keep it. She decided that the best place would be our son’s closet and I did not object. It is probably the best place in our home. So that is where it went.

A few weeks ago I heard about someone who was driving this last winter and whose car broke down. This last winter was unusually cold, so cold that a few times they canceled the public schools here because the heating systems could not keep the buildings warm.

I imagined what I would do if my car broke down, especially during bad weather in the middle of nowhere. I realized that my 72-hour kit safely tucked away in the boys’ closet would not do my family any good in that situation. And what if for some reason I were stranded at work and could not get home? What then?

To solve the car concern we put together a “lite” version of our 72-hour kit that contained the essentials but not nearly as many of the amenities that our full 72-hour kit has. The “lite” 72-hour kit we keep in the car (we only have one so we keep it there but if we had two or more cars we would have one in each car).

To put it together we started with our full 72-hour kit contents list and took off the things that we thought we could get along without if pressed and stranded in our car. Things like markers, crayons, coloring books, and games came off. Matches and blankets stayed on though.

Because I work about three minutes walking from our home we do not feel like it is really necessary to have a 72 hour kit there for me, however, I am also responsible for the well-being of my team at work and so my wife and I put together a little kit that I keep at the office anyway just in case one of them need it.

Like with the car kit we pared down our full kit to include only the things that I would need if I were stranded at my office. Pens, paper, garbage bags, and a first aid kit were dropped because those are available in abundance at the office. Blankets, food, and some personal hygiene items made the cut.

If you would like to see what is in our “lite” 72-hour kits you can view the list for our car kit here or for our office kit here. I welcome any questions you have so please send them to me. If you have advice and suggestions please leave a comment so that everyone can benefit from your wisdom and not just me.

By the way, all of the things in all three versions of our 72-hour kits can be purchased at Amazon.com. If you found this or other information on this site helpful please consider purchasing through this link. If you do, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. And you will receive my gratitude.

How Many Hours? 72 of Course. The kit to Survive Tomorrow.

Last March we went and visited my parents. Even though they live in San Antonio, Texas we chose to drive there. It is simply too expensive to fly our entire family these days (there are six of us). We had a lovely visit with them and really enjoyed getting to know San Antonio better. It is a truly beautiful city with a rich history (the Alamo is neat but the Missions of San Antonio are way better).

As we were packing up our minivan for the trip home my dad asked me to bring back the Christmas present he had put together for us and for my sister and her husband (they live near our home). When he brought out two large, black duffel bags I remembered what our Christmas presents were (and had to completely rethink my packing strategy): 72-hour kits.

I am sorry to say that it took me forever to open up the 72-hour kit that he gave us and go through it but when I did I was pleasantly surprised at the great job that he did. The kit had almost everything.

It had a basic first aid kit.

And some miscellaneous survival gear like a whistle, rope, matches, and bug repellent.

Toilet paper is always handy not only for when nature calls but you can use it to start fires too. Duct tape, a poncho, hand warmers, and solar blankets were some other great things to have that I would not have thought of.

Baby wipes are a necessity for my family because we have two children in diapers. Also, they are great for cleaning and would help us keep the little ones from getting too dirty. More solar blankets, some glow sticks (which would not only give us light but keep the kids entertained!), and a couple more whistles. Why more than one whistle? There are six people in my family and each group should have one (myself and the kids I am with, my wife and the kids she’s with, and our older sons) in case we get split up or need to split up.

The gloves made sense to me to protect my hands. The tarp too because we could use it as shelter. The duffle bag was a stretch but after some thought, I can see why it would be helpful to be able to split the kit up and make it easier to carry. The safety vest, however, I’m still not sure about. Maybe because it is bright and would be easy for rescuers to see?

Meals-ready-to-eat (MRE’s) are good too. There weren’t enough for the whole family to have each have three square meals but there was enough to get us through a 72-hour ordeal. We may add some later but for now, it would tide us over.

There is more in the kit but these are pictures of some of the highlights. I have put together a list of everything (Google Doc) that we have in our main 72-hour kit. It is specific to our family but gives you a starting point. Download a copy and delete the things that you do not need and add things that you do. Because our family is not on any medications at present you will notice that there are not any listed. You may need to add them in your case.

I have to say thank you to my Dad (and Mom) for giving us this great gift. If you are looking for a gift to give someone you love consider giving them a good 72-hour kit. It is a gift that may save their life.

By the way, all of the things in the 72-hour kit that my parents gave us can be purchased at Amazon.com. If you found this or other information on this site helpful please consider purchasing through this link. If you do, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. And you will receive my gratitude.

For years my wife and I have been planning to acquire some food storage. We have a 72-hour kit and probably enough food in the house for a week, maybe a little bit longer, but any longer and we would be eating the dandelions in the front yard. And I am not a big fan of dandelion salads.

When we were first married we obtained a list from a friend that was supposed to be a guide map to putting together our food storage. We are shooting for a year’s supply of food and this little plan told us exactly how to do that. The coolest thing to us, being newlyweds and poor, was that it could be done on $5 a week.

After a few weeks, we had several pounds of honey, about thirty cans of tomato soup, twenty pounds of sugar, and a bunch of uncooked pasta. There were a few other little things too but this was the bulk of it.

We paused one evening as we surveyed our budding supply of food and I asked Cami, “do you like tomato soup?” “Nope. Do you?” “No, I don’t,” I said.

Then we started laughing. Here we had a couple dozen cans of tomato soup and neither of us even liked it. We reviewed the list and saw that in the coming week we were to purchase 50 pounds of wheat. Wheat? What do you do with wheat? Where do you even buy it? We couldn’t recall ever seeing it as Walmart.

It was then that we stopped putting together our food storage. Of all things, we were foiled by wheat.

Shortly thereafter I realized that I had three problems with the way everyone else seemed to be telling me how to put together a long-term supply of food.

  1. Money. I don’t want to spend a gazillion dollars on food I may never eat.
  2. Too complex It shouldn’t be so complicated. I don’t know what kinds of wheat are out there, where to buy good wheat, or what to do with it.
  3. Can I eat it? Again, what do I do with wheat? Or why buy tomato soup? How do I make food with ingredients I don’t normally use and what do I make?

Putting together a long-term supply of food is pretty simple. Just buy a bunch of Twinkies, they last forever. But the problem that I keep running into is what to do with it. The lists that I get from friends and find online are designed for other people and other families, not for mine. And I don’t have the time to spend on figuring out what foods to store and which foods we eat and how to cook things we’ll eat with the food we store. It’s too complicated.

This is why I recommend that you start small. First, prepare to survive today. Put together your 72-hour kit and several additional days of food and water. It can be almost anything really. Any food is better than no food. However, high energy foods are especially good in an emergency because we often are required to burn a lot of energy to stay alive.

After you have your week’s supply put together to start working on a month. Look at the menus you have put together for your family for the last few weeks and their accompanying shopping lists. Identify which foods you eat regularly (in the Cooper family it is spaghetti) and buy enough to make that meal six or eight times. You know everyone will eat it and usually, those are simple and cheap meals as well.

With three or four of those meals picked out go to the store and buy what you need to make each meal seven or eight times. Bring that food home then use it when you would have made the meal anyway. When you use something put it on the list to purchase more. This is a natural way to rotate your stored food.

Putting together a short-term food supply is literally that easy. For a few dollars and the time it takes to go on one shopping trip you have a month’s supply of food and a built-in rotation system. Not too shabby.

Building a longer-term supply does get a little bit more complicated but let’s not worry about that until your one month supply is put together.

As always, please ask me your questions by leaving a comment, finding me on Facebook, or sending me a tweet. I want to help.

Preparedness Step 2: Survive Today

 

My family has a family communication plan. Preparedness step 1: locate your loved ones…CHECK!

So we’ve found each other. Great. And it really is great. But now what? Now we need to start surviving. How long do we need to survive? Well, at least today. And probably tomorrow. And, well, preferably every day after tomorrow too. But preparedness step two, survive today, will get us through today so that is the one we will focus on next. Once today is taken care of we can worry about tomorrow.

In the next series of posts I will discuss the basic elements required to survive today. We will talk about 72 hour kits, meeting short term food and water needs, shelter, and equipment and tools that are like gold in a natural disaster/weather type emergency.

I will have a couple of videos for you, a planning tool/checklist, several other resources where you can go into additional detail and learn more, and my personal examples of what I have done and am doing to prepare to survive today.

Today, however, we will start the discussion with water.

We should have on hand at least a gallon of water a day for drinking and hygiene, according to FEMA. We also, however, should make sure that this is a sufficient amount for our situation. In especially hot and humid climates, like Arizona or Florida, you may need to plan on more than a gallon of water a day. But for most people most of the time a gallon a day per person is a good rule of thumb.

If you suffered an emergency right now (well, as soon as you finish reading this), what would you do for water? Let’s say that you immediately hop in the car and head to the store, assuming it is open, and buy a couple of cases of bottled water because everyone else had the same idea and that is all that is left. Now you have about six gallons of water. There are four people living in your home so you have a day and a half of water.

Next, you get all of the water in your house together that you can. Melt the ice cubes in your freezer (I bet you didn’t think of that!). Drain the water from the pipes in your home. To do this, shut off the main water line into your home (in disaster situations often the public water system becomes contaminated and by shutting off the water to your home you prevent the contamination from entering, which is why one day I hope to own a home with its own well).

Then open the faucet that is the highest in your home. Go to the lowest and turn it on and all of the water in the pipes will flow out. Make sure you have a couple of buckets or some container to hold the water. The last thing you want is for the good water in your pipes to be lost to the sewer.

Another place to look is the water heater. Water heaters typically hold anywhere from 40 to 60 gallons. That will take care of your drinking needs for quite a while.

There you go, even if you were not prepared you can now survive today and a couple more days…at least as far as water is concerned.

Ideally, however, you would not need to run to the store as soon as the power went out and fight for the last case of water. Go and buy a couple of cases of water now.  Three or four will last most families a few days.

You can also store water in your own bottles ahead of time. If you would like to do this, Ready.gov provides some guidelines for storing water. I also found valuable this review on Ready.gov’s guidelines. I think you will too.

Food Storage Recipes

Food Storage RecipesYour 5 Free Food Storage Recipes

Five killer recipes to get your food storage cookbook started.

To download, right click on the link below and choose “save as” or “save target”.

Please note that the text file is in a PDF format, so you will need Adobe PDF Reader to view it and print it. You can get the reader for free at Adobe.com.

Thank you, and enjoy!

The First Thing You Need to Know About Your First Garden

I will be frank. Your garden will probably fail…at least to meet your expectations. The first year anyway.

The first year I had a garden I expected a humble crop: a few dozen cucumbers, a few ears of corn, a couple of watermelons, a few bowls of string peas, and two or three dozen good sized carrots.

What did I get? A few ears of corn that ended up being unpalatable because I waited too long to pick them. About a hundred carrots, none of which were longer than one inch or had a greater than a 1/4 inch circumference. Three cucumbers. Zero watermelons (the plants did not even grow). And maybe twenty string peas.

I was pretty disappointed, especially after all of the efforts I put into rototilling the ground, planting the seeds, carefully watering and weeding, chasing away the deer and rabbits, and fighting to keep my kids from running through it.

But I’m not one to give up too easily. I promise each year will get better until you become a food growing master (I still can’t get my strawberries to grow through).

Let me share with you the first thing that I learned that first year. Make sure to till the ground. The ground is naturally just too hard for food-bearing plants to thrive in so you need to break it up and make it soft. With soft soil, plants will not spoil. That was a bad rhyme, sorry.

I tried to do it by hand that first year. I grabbed a spade shovel and a hoe and went to town. In about twenty minutes I was exhausted and had completed the first pass over a square foot of my garden area. I would have to do it four or five more times to begin to get the soil soft enough and broken up enough to give my plants a fighting chance.

So I rented a rototiller. I figured the ground was not very hard so I would rent the cheapest rototiller the rental place had. When I went to pick it up the guy working there asked me if I knew how to use the tiller. I confessed that I did not and requested a demonstration. Next, he began to pepper me with questions about my garden plot. I distinctly remember him asking if it had been tilled before because of his reaction when I told him that it had not.

He looked me in the eye and said “You’re renting the wrong tiller. You’re going to kill yourself if you try to use this one. Here, this is the one that you need.” It was a MONSTER!

This other tiller had its own trailer it was so big. My garden spot was only like twelve feet by fifteen feet, there was no way I needed a tiller THAT big!

After a lengthy discussion he finally convinced me, I paid twice what I had originally planned to, and hauled it home for the weekend.

I never did thank that man in the rental store that day but I should. He saved my back and my weekend. When I turned the beast on (that’s what I call the big tillers; their official name is “rear tine tillers”) it dug into the dirt like there was no tomorrow. Dirt went flying. After six or seven passes, a little less than an hour, the dirt was looking like it does in the movies: black and rich. The perfect place for my little plants.

So, this is my advice to you. Rent a rear tine tiller the first time you plant a garden to prepare the soil. Typically you can rent them for less than $100 a day and it will make quick work (at least quicker than a shovel and hoe) of preparing the ground. After that first year, you can rent the smaller front tine tillers and they’ll do fine. But that first year, that first time, go with the beast. I promise you will be glad you did.

My Three Biggest Challenges with Storing Food: You’ll Relate to #3

For years my wife and I have been planning to acquire some food storage. We have a 72-hour kit and probably enough food in the house for a week, maybe a little bit longer, but any longer and we would be eating the dandelions in the front yard. And I am not a big fan of dandelion salads.

When we were first married we obtained a list from a friend that was supposed to be a guide map to putting together our food storage. We are shooting for a year’s supply of food and this little plan told us exactly how to do that. The coolest thing to us, being newlyweds and poor, was that it could be done on $5 a week.

After a few weeks we had several pounds of honey, about thirty cans of tomato soup, twenty pounds of sugar, and a bunch of uncooked pasta. There were a few other little things too but this was the bulk of it.

We paused one evening as we surveyed our budding supply of food and I asked Cami, “do you like tomato soup?” “Nope. Do you?” “No, I don’t” I said.

Then we started laughing. Here we had a couple dozen cans of tomato soup and neither of us even liked it. We reviewed the list and saw that in the coming week we were to purchase 50 pounds of wheat. Wheat? What do you do with wheat? Where do you even buy it? We couldn’t recall ever seeing it as Walmart.

It was then that we stopped putting together our food storage. Of all things, we were foiled by wheat.

Shortly thereafter I realized that I had three problems with the way everyone else seemed to be telling me how to put together a long-term supply of food.

  1. Money. I don’t want to spend a gazillion dollars on food I may never eat.
  2. Too complex It shouldn’t be so complicated. I don’t know what kinds of wheat are out there, where to buy good wheat, or what to do with it.
  3. Can I eat it? Again, what do I do with wheat? Or why buy tomato soup? How do I make food with ingredients I don’t normally use and what do I make?

Putting together a long-term supply of food is pretty simple. Just buy a bunch of Twinkies, they last forever. But the problem that I keep running into is what to do with it. The lists that I get from friends and find online are designed for other people and other families, not for mine. And I don’t have the time to spend on figuring out what foods to store and which foods we eat and how to cook things we’ll eat with the food we store. It’s too complicated.

This is why I recommend that you start small. First, prepare to survive today. Put together your 72-hour kit and several additional days of food and water. It can be almost anything really. Any food is better than no food. However, high energy foods are especially good in an emergency because we often are required to burn a lot of energy to stay alive.

After you have your week’s supply put together start working on a month. Look at the menus you have put together for your family for the last few weeks and their accompanying shopping lists. Identify which foods you eat regularly and buy enough to make that meal six or eight times. You know everyone will eat it and usually, those are simple and cheap meals as well.

With three or four of those meals picked out go to the store and buy what you need to make each meal seven or eight times. Bring that food home then use it when you would have made the meal anyway. When you use something put it on the list to purchase more. This is a natural way to rotate your stored food.

Putting together a short term food supply is literally that easy. For a few dollars and the time it takes to go on one shopping trip you have a month’s supply of food and a built in rotation system. Not too shabby.

Building a longer term supply does get a little bit more complicated but let’s not worry about that until your one month supply is put together.

As always, please ask me your questions by leaving a comment, finding me on Facebook, or sending me a tweet. I want to help.

Operational Preparedness Planning

Operational planning is an important part of any preparedness plan. Once you have laid out the basics of your plan, the general outline, we call it the strategic part of your plan, and then thought through some more of the specifics in the tactical part of your plan, it is time to focus on making your life more live-able if and when the need arises to put your plans into action.

The operational part of your plan deals with “creature comforts” that simplify your life and make the situation seem more like “normal”. Things like a can opener, toilet paper, and something to read.

These little things we normally take for granted but when disasters and emergencies strike and they are not available their lack makes the situation even more frustrating. But having them gives the situation more normalcy and helps us cope with everything else.

To help with this, because these operational things are taken for granted, I have put together a list for you of 75 “creature comfort” items. Choose the items from this list that are pertinent to your situation. Remember, the list does not have everything you could want but will get you started in the right direction.

  1. Toilet paper
  2. Floss
  3. Deodorant
  4. Toothpaste
  5. Toothbrush
  6. Feminine hygiene products
  7. Shampoo
  8. Conditioner
  9. Soap
  10. Loofah
  11. Hand soap
  12. Dish soap
  13. Wash cloth
  14. Can opener
  15. Hand sanitizer
  16. Fingernail clippers
  17. Books to read
  18. Coloring books (for you and the children)
  19. Crayons
  20. Writing Utensils (pens and pencils)
  21. Comb/hair brush
  22. A few toys for the children
  23. Games, maybe a deck of cards or something
  24. Razor (for a woman’s legs)
  25. Razor (for a man’s face)
  26. Shaving cream (for both)
  27. Tweezers
  28. Chapstick
  29. Needle and thread
  30. Slippers
  31. A wristwatch
  32. Puzzles
  33. Kleenex
  34. Indoor/Outdoor thermometer
  35. Makeup
  36. Toothpicks
  37. Face wash
  38. Cotton swabs (Q-tips)
  39. Hair bands and elastics
  40. Lotion
  41. Pillows
  42. Timer (for cooking, etc.)
  43. Salt and pepper shakers
  44. CD player
  45. CD’s
  46. Fingernail polish
  47. Fingernail polish remover
  48. Nail file
  49. Laundry detergent
  50. Dryer sheets/fabric softener
  51. Scented candle
  52. Stapler
  53. Scissors
  54. Tape
  55. Bobby pins
  56. Safety pins
  57. Paper clips
  58. Notepad
  59. Journal/diary
  60. Cheese grater
  61. Chewing gum
  62. Trash bags
  63. Whisk
  64. Spatula
  65. Ladle
  66. Pair of work gloves
  67. Pair of latex gloves
  68. A few pieces of jewelry
  69. Basic sporting equipment (tennis racquet and balls, soccer ball, baseball glove, and ball)
  70. Apron
  71. Mouthwash
  72. Cutting board
  73. Petroleum jelly (Vasoline)
  74. Ziploc bags
  75. Twist Ties