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Disaster Prep on a Budget

Source: Couponchief.com Guide to saving money on disaster preparation

be prepared sign

It’s no secret the world is a dangerous place. Every day, we hear about something – whether caused by humans or nature – that’s turned lives upside down. Bad news greets us in the morning and follows us to bed at night.

What are we to do?

In this guide, we’ll talk about disaster preparedness. We’ll talk about the supplies and equipment you and your family need to weather out the storm or make it through the crisis. And we’ll suggest ways you can save money and still get high quality goods.

By getting ready now, you won’t have to worry so much about what might happen. If a news alert says severe weather is headed your way, you’ll be ready for it.

Know your immediate environment

The Red Cross suggests a “hazard hunt” in and around your home. If you use natural gas, do you know how to shut off the gas? Do you know where the water and electrical shut-offs are? Are there rickety steps, frayed wires, or overloaded outlets? Take a walk around your property with an eye towards hazard identification.

While you’re on the hazard hunt, remember to also look for hazard abatements. Where are your smoke, heat, and CO2 detectors? Are they operating properly, and are the batteries being replaced regularly? Do you have fire extinguishers? Where are they, and are they properly pressurized? Where are water outlets and hoses? Where are emergency flashlights and batteries?

Know where to get accurate, up-to-date information

emergency alerts by phone

Fema’s EAS (emergency alert system) is good for national disasters, but for Sonoma County, we recommend the nixle.com alert system from the Sheriff’s Department. You can get nixle alerts on your smart phone, or simply sign up to get email alerts.

Get familiar with the alert platforms you choose and be sure to learn the terminology. A perennial source of confusion is the need to understand how imminent the threat is.

Talk with everyone in your family and anyone who could potentially be on your team

preparedness meeting

Not only does teamwork make the work lighter, but it helps you uncover unrecognized concerns and do a better job of advanced planning. Each person can share their personal concerns, ideas, and capabilities.

One way to extend the zone of protection is to talk with neighbors. There could be someone who would need special assistance in the event of an emergency, another may have special equipment that could make hard work easier (a chainsaw, for instance), or there could be someone with medical or first responder training.

Prepare a plan for dealing with all likely emergency situations

checklist illustration

You’ve already identified the risks, and you know how to monitor them. You’ve spoken with those most likely to face an emergency with you, and you’ve prepared a list of available resources/skills.

That gives you the starting point for an informed emergency plan. You want to know who does what and how you will communicate during the event.

Ready.gov provides in-depth coverage on how to prepare your emergency communications plan. You can even get downloadable templates to fill out and print. Remember: It’s often possible to send a text message via your cell phone, even when voice calls aren’t going through.

The minimum emergency preparedness kit

Let’s move on to consider Red Cross recommendations for the types of kits you’ll need and the contents of each.

Three things are essential: water, food, and first aid supplies.water

Water: The Red Cross recommendation is for one gallon per person, per day, for a minimum of three days. You should also have a plan for what you’ll do should the water supply run out.

food

Food: You’ll want to store foods that don’t require refrigeration or cooking. Make sure there’s enough to feed everyone in the family for a minimum of three days.

first aid kit

First Aid Kit: Bandages, antiseptics, first aid cremes, and the basic first aid supplies should be packaged together in one container. You should also be sure to keep an adequate supply of prescription drugs on hand. Don’t wait until the last day to refill.

Here are tips on what to look for and how to save money on your basic emergency preparedness supplies:

  • All of this gear can get heavy. Ideally, you’ll want your bug out bag, when packed, to weigh no more than about ten percent of your body weight. You can purchase bags already loaded with gear. That’s quick and easy. However, you probably won’t get the best quality and durability.To get started, you can keep your list with you and purchase the items you need a little at a time. Of course, the sooner the better.Bag selection is critical. You want it to fit you well and be comfortable. It must also be extremely durable.
  • You can shop for bags at your local sporting goods or military discount store. Once you know what you like and how it feels, you can compare prices online and check local second hand stores for a bargain find.
  • For shelter and bedding, the top end is a lightweight tent and sleeping bag. To save expense, you can use a tarp for a makeshift shelter and a wool blanket or space blanket for bedding. Check backpacking supply stores for ideas.
  • Self-defense equipment can range from a handgun to a bottle of pepper spray. Choose whatever makes you feel most comfortable, but you will want to be prepared to defend yourself against attacks from both animals and humans.
  • Satellite phones are more dependable during an emergency, but also considerably more expensive. Hand-held two way radios are another communications option.
  • Don’t forget garage sales, moving sales, and second hand stores for finding items to go in your emergency pack. Always be looking. Keep you list handy.
  • Online places to look are local Facebook groups that list things to sell, Craigslist, and Nextdoor.com. Always check for discount coupons as well.
  • It’s always quicker and easier to buy the pre-made kits for sewing, fishing, and first-aid kits. You’ll typically get higher quality products and a better price by putting your own together. That also makes you more familiar with the contents.
  • All of this gear can get heavy. Ideally, you’ll want your bug out bag, when packed, to weigh no more than about ten percent of your body weight.
  • You can purchase bags already loaded with gear. That’s quick and easy. However, you probably won’t get the best quality and durability.
  • To get started, you can keep your list with you and purchase the items you need a little at a time. Of course, the sooner the better.
  • Bag selection is critical. You want it to fit you well and be comfortable. It must also be extremely durable.
  • You can shop for bags at your local sporting goods or military discount store. Once you know what you like and how it feels, you can compare prices online and check local second hand stores for a bargain find.
  • For shelter and bedding, the top end is a lightweight tent and sleeping bag. To save expense, you can use a tarp for a makeshift shelter and a wool blanket or space blanket for bedding. Check backpacking supply stores for ideas.

Items to stow in your vehicle

If you need to evacuate, chances are good you’ll be able to take your vehicle with you. That’s why it’s wise to keep the gas tank topped off. You can either take your go bag with you when you drive, or you can create a totally separate emergency preparedness kit for your car.

Either way, you can definitely store larger items in your vehicle, and you should always take a go bag with you when you head out of town.

Here are examples of the additional items you can store in your car, but probably wouldn’t want to keep in your personal go bag:

gas can
  • Sleeping bags, blankets, pillows
  • A mechanic’s tool kit
  • A full-size tent
  • Extra tarps, gloves, and caps
  • Hiking boots

Preparing a longer-term kit for hunkering down at home

Most families have enough goods on hand to go three days without a grocery store. But what if you needed to sit out a week or more, using only the supplies you have right now? That could be tough.

You’d want to first use up the food in your refrigerator, then the food in the freezer (If the power is off, don’t open the door until you’re ready to get food out), then your emergency supplies and the food in the pantry.

For more information, see the federal CDC emergency preparedness website.
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