Emergency Preparedness – Why you need a plan

Until recently I didn’t know much about emergency preparedness. The only thing I knew about it is that there were some people who identified as “preppers” who, to my understanding, were preparing for a disaster that would never happen. I never thought I would have anything to learn from them.

emergency preparedness

Boy, have I been humbled in this area recently.

A few weeks ago we had a crazy wind storm. It literally came out of nowhere. I had my shoes on and my car keys in hand ready to drive the 40 minutes into town to run some errands. Right before I walked out the door the wind got so strong it knocked down a big tree in our yard and tore off a piece of our old barn roof.

Needless to say, I stayed home that night.

The power went out. No big deal. I’ve been without power plenty of times in my life.

Except that, any time I didn’t have power I lived in town. Where the toilets and water still work even if the electricity doesn’t.

And it stayed out. For 31 hours.

We had no water and my husband was out working on emergency repairs on homes from the storm so I had no vehicle to go get water. I just kept thinking the power would come on soon. I called the hydro company on my phone and the time of power restoration just kept getting pushed back further and further.

This storm hit a very large area. Hydro was so busy they wouldn’t even let you speak to a live person when you called because they couldn’t keep up with the incomin calls. Other emergency services were extremely busy as well. And for us, on a dead end country dirt road, I imagine we weren’t first on the list to make sure we had power on.

Let me tell you, I am just so thankful that this didn’t happen in winter where the possibility of even getting out of our driveway and up our road can be sketchy sometimes.

So, all that to say, I learned a few things. Mostly I learned what NOT to do. Being prepared is a good idea no matter where you live, but emergency preparedness is a must when you live in the country.

Emergency Preparedness Tips

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Store water at all times. If you know a storm is coming you can fill your bathtub, large pots, and kettles with water. But you really should have water stored in jugs or pails with lids somewhere at all times because a storm can hit without warning. We never imagined such a storm would hit us the way it did.

Invest in a rain barrel. Thankfully I was able to find some pails outside that filled with water from the last rain to give to the chickens, dog, and cats. We had JUST enough. A nice rain barrel is a better option. It also comes in handy if you need to manually flush the toilets because 31 hours of not flushing the toilet is a nightmare. Trust me on this.

Shelf stable food. Personally I think a week’s worth of food for your whole family is a good goal to aim for. It doesn’t have to be fancy. If you are in the middle of a disaster or emergency no one will complain if they are eating oatmeal, rice, and beans. Of course, if you don’t have a wood stove or anyway to cook the food if the power goes out, be sure to stock up on food that doesn’t need to be cooked. Things like peanut butter, canned fruit or vegetables, tuna, and honey. Anything that you can eat without the use of kitchen appliances.

Battery operated charger for your cell phone. My husband talked me into buying one of these years ago and I grumbled about it. I didn’t like the price tag. However, I am so glad we bought it! We have used it while camping, driving off-grid, and most recently, being without power for 31 hours. We were able to contact people by phone and text and if we did not have that battery operated charger our phones would have died.

Batteries. You want enough batteries for flashlights and radios.

Flashlights and candles (and matches). I love that you can buy those battery operated tea lights by the pack at the dollar store now. I can leave them in my kids’ rooms and not worry about a fire hazard.

Wood. If you have a woodstove you want to make sure you have plenty of wood. If you don’t have a woodstove but a place for a bonfire in your yard, a stash of wood can come in handy for you to cook on!

Battery operated or hand cranked radio. A hand-cranked radio will allow you to keep up to date on what is happening with whatever emergency or disaster has hit your area.

Emergency preparedness can go a long way in reducing the stress level in your home during a prolonged power outage or disaster of some sort. If you have kids the biggest thing you can do to help them through an emergency is to stay calm. Make it fun for them by reading books together by candlelight, playing board games, or roasting marshmallows over a fire.

Our kids had moments have anxiety through the outage and in between keeping them busy we just kept trying to reassure them that they were safe and that we would take care of them. I sat next to my youngest’s bed while he fell asleep each night to help him not be afraid.

We are very fortunate to live in a country where we have the ability to make emergency preparedness a priority. We take things like running water for granted, but after just 31 hours without it, I was definitely getting emotional and stressed. It’s hard to believe there are people living around the world without access to clean running water on a daily basis. There are people in third world countries who walk miles or hours each day just for water.

Just let that sink in for a minute.

Sometimes an emergency or trial in our life really helps put things in perspective.

I encourage you to incorporate emergency preparedness into your life. It’s easy to say “that will never happen to me” but you just never know. If all that you rely on was inaccessible, how would you find food, water, or heat?

Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way of what happens when you aren’t prepared. Thankfully it was just a prolonged power outage, but next time it could be something much worse. And that is why we plan to be prepared for the potential for a situation like that happening.

2 thoughts on “Emergency Preparedness – Why you need a plan”

  1. Tina ten Hoope

    Great article. Just a few more things. We also need to have gas for a barbecue on hand to cook meals and a generator to supply hydro for the freezer and fridge so the food doesn’t spoil. Friends in town who can supply you with some water for drinking or keep bottled water on hand.

    1. Yes, a generator, if it fits into your budget is definitely a good idea. A BBQ to cook food is also helpful. We used a cookstove to cook food outside when we first moved in before our appliances arrived so that is another item that can come in handy.:)

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