A few years back, we had the rare instance of a tornado in our area. Matter of fact, my husband and close friend were both on the 215 freeway where the tornado touched down and effortlessly knocked over a few train cars just up the freeway from them both. In case you don’t know this, Southern California doesn’t often have tornadoes. Like almost never.
In the years following that event, many states have experienced odd weather patterns and unusual disasters due to rare weather in their area. Also, certain parts of the world that do not usually experience earthquakes have been surprised by them. This tells me that, really, the sky is the limit on what can happen to us.
I don’t want this post to feel as though it’s here to foster fear in the hearts of my readers, but rather, to point out that even though it is not likely that we experience a devastating disaster, it is wise to be prepared for one. It could be something as simple as a failure of the power grid, which would render most of us unable to support ourselves reasonably until it was restored. Why not at least take the advice of FEMA, who recommends that we have at least 3 days of food and supplies stored up in case of disaster? It just makes sense.
So with all that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of 10 things you can do to prepare for a disaster. Please keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list, and for those of you who consider yourself preppers, these things are no-brainers. However, for those who perhaps haven’t started their disaster prep (or even thought about it), it’s a decent jumping off point.
10 Things You Can Do to Prepare for Disaster
1. Plant a tomato plant – You and I both know that there is no way that you will be able to support your family in a disaster with just one tomato plant, but that’s not really what I’m going for here, anyway. I am of the belief that “knowledge is power”, and what I’d like for you to focus on is gaining gardening knowledge, little by little, by the trial and error of caring for one plant. Soon, as you gain victory and enjoy the fruits of your labor, you will have the confidence to try growing something else—maybe even more than one variety of vegetable!
2. Learn to home can or dehydrate fruits and vegetables – There is nothing like having food on your shelf or in your pantry that you’ve preserved with your own hands. It’s also very rewarding to know that your efforts to put up food can help you to get through hard times. Most home-canned food has a shelf-life of one year before the nutritional value of the food declines, and it’s the same for dehydrated food. Buy yourself a copy of the latest Ball Blue Book online or from your local Walmart and start learning the possibilities. Even if you don’t grow your own right away, you can still shop the loss leaders at your local grocer and preserve those fruits and vegetables for your shelf. If you have a friend that knows how to preserve food, ask her (or him) to help you learn. Most people love to share information if it is something they are passionate about. Start only with foods your family loves to eat, or you will waste your time because no one will want to eat it, even if in a disaster situation (though they would be more likely to). Don’t forget to learn how to use the foods you preserve—that’s paramount!
3. Stock up- shampoo, soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, deodorant, and any other toiletries that you feel would be important in a disaster. Watch your loss leaders and stock up when you can. Check your dollar stores for good deals. It doesn’t have to be the best of the best, just what will get you through the disaster period.
In addition to stocking up on some store-bought soap, I plan on making a good shelf-full of bars of soap. It is our family’s favorite and the longer it sits on the shelf, the harder the bar, which means it lasts longer.
4. Figure out a plan for washing clothes that does not use electricity- Obviously, most of us own more than 3 days worth of clothing, so if you are stocking only for 3 days, this would not be needed. However, it is good to be prepared with a plan, even if we never use it. This could be as simple as a washboard, some soap (like ZOTE, you can get it at Walmart), 2 large plastic buckets (one for washing, one for rinsing, and a clothesline. (Use of this would hinge on whether or not water is available to your area during a disaster.) The photo to the left pictures the laundry soap starter kit from Lehmans.com.
5. Learn to cook over a wood fire – A fire pit, a dutch oven and some wood is really all you would need to make your family delicious and nutritious meals from your home canned/dehydrated foods. Be sure to stock up a little on firewood. Here are a couple of articles that can help you get your feet wet with dutch oven cooking, here and here.
6. Stock up on staple foods – flour, rice, beans, sugar, etc. and learn NOW how to use them in your everyday cooking. Don’t kid yourself and think that in the event of a disaster you will magically know what to do with your staple foods. Practice a bit baking your own bread, cooking beans, making rice… and preferably, over the fire. You will be glad you did. PreparedPantry.com has a really great publication called Emergency and Outdoor Bread Manual. At the end of this publication are links to other great recipe manuals, if you like that sort of thing.
7. Learn how to collect seeds from the plants in your garden- Even if you only have a tomato plant, or even flowers, in your garden, do some research on how to collect those seeds. The information you learn will be invaluable, and may help you create a sustainable seed supply in the long run. A book that helped me get started is Seed Sowing and Saving: Step-by-Step Techniques for Collecting and Growing More Than 100 Vegetables, Flowers, and Herbs (Gardening Skills Illustrated) by Carole B. Turner.
8. Plant fruit trees- Frest fruit is a GREAT way to nourish your body with much needed vitamins and minerals. It can be home canned or dehydrated with great results, and can stretch your season of enjoyment of their fruits for the whole year. Be sure to be mindful of when each tree is ready to be harvested so that you have fresh varieties of fruit during different months, and you don’t find yourself wasting fruit because it’s too overwhelming to deal with.
9. Check out this information about FEMAs recommendations on what to put in your survival kit (I’m sorry, I looked all over the FEMA website and wasn’t able to find the actual article.)
10. Read, read, read. Start with the subject matter that interests you. Build a library full of books that you will be able to refer to in the time of disaster so that you don’t find yourself needing to look up information on the internet (that may or may not be accessible in a disaster).
I know I said that there are only 10 things in this list, but I have thought of an 11th to share:
11. Pray. While this list can help you to be prepared on this earth for a disaster, I believe that life isn’t really only about what happens on this earth. If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior and have the assurance that you will go to heaven, please know that you can. Go here and read about God’s plan of salvation, and how to accept His free gift that He wants to give you through Jesus Christ.
Whether you do one, some or all of the above items, your actions will put you in better shape than you were before you did them.
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