We’ve had tornado alerts for the eastern part of our state as well as flash flood warnings. Large parts of Texas and Oklahoma are currently underwater. And, of course, we all saw what happened to much of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit it. Our state also has something in common with California – the danger of wildfires in the summer. In fact, no matter where you live there’s always the possibility you’ll be hit by some kind of a catastrophe.
When you think of a doomsday prepper you probably think of someone preparing for the end of the world that has an underground room with several years’ worth of foodstuffs. While you might think these preppers are a touch on the paranoid side it is possible to learn lessons from them that could tide you over in the case of a flood, fire, hurricane or tornado.
The most neglected
Whether it’s being hit by a natural disaster, a pandemic or the loss of the family’s breadwinner, you’ll be glad you spent time preparing for it. Unfortunately, what most people neglect is to make financial preparations as well the physical ones. We all get busy and hassled and tend to forget the essential tasks. But if you follow these guidelines you’ll also have your personal finances prepped for a disaster.
The first thing you need to do is get your finances organized. Divide your documents into three categories: Crucial, important and nice to have. Crucial documents would typically include the title to your home or car, your will, your power of attorney and your medical directive. Make copies of these documents and back them up digitally either on a hard drive you can remove or a flash drive. Store the originals of these documents in a very safe place like a safe deposit box. Make sure you know where your “important” documents are so you could quickly grab them and get out of the house with them in a hurry. If you have some warning about a pending disaster you might have enough time to gather up and put your “nice to have” documents someplace where you think they’d be safe.
Put away some cash
It can be very helpful to keep some cash on hand. Our society today runs on electricity, which means all your electronic devices are at risk. This also makes us very vulnerable, as there are very few things that will work if there is a big power outage. ATMs will go down and some store clerks won’t be able to run your credit cards. Make sure to keep some cash in small bills in your wallet or purse in the event you need to put gas in the car or buy some supplies And don’t forget to keep some cash stashed away at home.
Two things that are essential to survival are food and water. This means it’s smart to have enough of these on hand to survive any Katrina-like event. According to doomsday preppers the basic survival elements are first aid, self-protection, hygiene and temperature regulation in addition to food and water. Most experts say you should have stored at least one gallon of water per day for each person in your family and each pet. You should also try to store at least a three-days’ supply of water for each person and each pet. Of course, the best thing would be to store a two-week’s supply. Make sure that you keep track of the expiration dates for any store-bought water and it’s important to replace your stored water at least every six months.
Food and first aid
It’s a good idea to keep at least one month’s worth of food on hand if you can. If you can’t do this all at once start with a small amount and then work your way up. For example, you might spend an extra $10 a week on things that store well such as canned goods and then work your way up to a month’s worth. Once you get a month’s worth of food stored up be sure to rotate some of these items into your menu periodically and then replace them so they don’t expire. A first aid kit is a must-have and even though this might be unpleasant to think about you need to consider how you would protect yourself and your family in dangerous situations. As we have all seen catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina can bring out the worst in some of us.
Sometimes what you know is more important than what you have. So do your research and read credible articles to increase your knowledge. For example, do you know what to do about water purification and disinfection? After a disaster it’s likely that your water will be contaminated and not fit to drink until you treat it. You could purchase a water filter and tuck it away in a closet. But this comes with the risk that it might not work, could be damaged or just fails when you really need it. In comparison there are at least six ways to disinfect suspect water. If you know how to do this such as boiling the water or using chlorine breach, iodine or ultraviolet light to disinfect it you will know what to do in a worst-case scenario.
Another example of where knowledge is critical is that first aid kit. Just having one isn’t enough if you don’t know how to use its supplies. It’s just critically important to know how to treat injured or sick people. All the first aid supplies in the world won’t help you if you don’t know how to use them. If you don’t have the required skills you could likely take a course in first aid from at your local Red Cross chapter. Barring this there is a huge number of books available on first aid that you should read and have available close to your first aid kit. Two of the best of these are the U.S. Army First Aid Manual and the Living Ready Pocket Manual – First Aid: Fundamentals for Survival.
The thing is when you have skills and know how to do things you can always improvise and develop solutions to almost any problem.
Finally, it’s important to know when to stay put and when to get out. This means watching your TV for updates and bulletins as to what’s happening. And it’s not a bad idea to have one of those portable, hand-cranked radios available so that if your electricity were to fail you could still keep up with the news.