Second article in a series of being prepared for an emergency. First, you’ve got to have water, next, you’ve got to have food. But what kind of food? How much food? Well, how long of an emergency are you preparing for? A couple of days, a week, six months? We used to talk about a 72 hour kit. Nowadays, wisdom leans towards a week to two weeks. Why? Because as much as we have the government to love, care and protect us, if you are depending on the government to look after you in an emergency, you just simply have not been paying attention.
If you are lucky, it will only be the electricity going out temporarily due to a storm, or some idiot hitting your power lines. But, what if it is not that simple? What if we have a Hurricane Katrina or Storm Sandy or a tornado, or an earthquake, or incivility breaks out in your neighborhood? Markets now operate on just in time delivery, meaning there is enough food in stock for four days before trucks bring in more. And, that is before an emergency. What if your highways are broken? Or deemed too hazardous for travel? Right now, look around and ask yourself if you are ready. Really ready.
Some people truly are, which delights the cockles of my heart. Most are not. Oh, they may have cans in the cupboard, some cereal, crackers, cans of vegetables or chili or soup, but how long is that half a loaf of bread going to sustain you and the kids? Not only do you need to have food on hand, but you’ve got to think ahead on how you’ll prepare it. If you’re a camper, you are probably pretty well set. If you are not, like me, you need to eye those cupboards with a discerning eye. I will be providing links below, but I’d like to spend a little time thinking about this. That will save you more in the long run.
Common wisdom is you look around and realize, “Not good. Not ready.” and you head to the market or go online to see what kind of food you need to stock up on. This is big business now. Due to all the crises around the world, businesses have stepped up to help you. They promise all you’ll need for 72 hours, including water, food, a first aid kit, a flashlight, a poncho, etc. And, yes, you need to have that on hand and ready to go. But, before we get there, let’s think about food. Do you like food? Are you allergic to certain foods? Are there certain foods you won’t eat? And by “you,” I am talking about members of your family from your 68-year-old mother to the toddler, to the family dog and cat. I actually had someone pose the question in one of my CERT classes, “What if you are breast-feeding?” Yes, what if you are nursing? You are the 72 hour kit for your infant. If you think ahead, and plan with you and your family in mind, not some ideal Madison Avenue family, you fast realize that you can look good or you can be prepared.
What that translates to is don’t waste your money on food the family won’t eat or will whine about. Picture you and your family in shock, scared, and wondering if this is the new normal until whenever. Understand that those symptoms are normal in a disaster or emergency and you and your family will either dramatically increase in their desire for food and liquid or they won’t be interested in eating. What do they love to eat? What is easy to prepare, tastes good, and keeps well? Yep, you can get the Military Ready to Eat (MREs) Meals or the military equivalent of ratbars or pre-assembled kits with meals for one or 20 people, but these can be expensive and you better damn sure love oatmeal and bean and potato soups. Alternatively, you can buy food that has a shelf life of 25 years, both prepackaged meals or bulk ingredients. Can you cook it? Do you use those ingredients? Where are you going to store it? All of which can overwhelm you before you even get started. That is about the time people shrug and put off making a decision to get ready. The wisest and most successful give it some thought, maybe create a list of foods and ingredients they would want to eat and be able to prepare, and then begin picking up an item or two each time they are at the market rather than trying to purchase in one fell swoop. You can even get the family involved by trying out recipes on ’em to see their reaction, asking for help in keeping an inventory, and making a field day trip of it by living rough for a day and night.
I was involved in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake in Southern California and a memorable recent snowstorm that left me five days without electricity. Those two events taught me a lot, the most important for me is how much I dislike the dark and being cold, but more importantly, how much I truly value a hot cup of coffee. Think about it. What do you truly need for a good day in bad conditions?
Just googling “emergency foods,” “mre,” “preparedness” will bring up immediate results, or, better yet, “emergency preparedness” brings up your county’s solutions as well. Costco, WalMart, Sam’s Club, WinCo, and even Ikea had a display for emergency and childproofing a home.
If you’d like some guidance, here are some links:
The Mormons have long-established the necessity of being prepared and here’s an overall questionnaire you might consider:
In addition, the LDS communities have canning facilities where you can buy in bulk at excellent prices and then participate (and learn how to) in canning what you purchase. I spent a fantastic two hours doing this two weekends ago and I only paid for the supplies I ordered. The class was free.
DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU