This week, DadsDollarsDebts wrote a harrowing post about his family’s last minute escape from the wildfires in California that left his house burned to the ground.
They barely had time to get themselves out, let alone salvage anything from the house.
ChiefOfficerMom put a call out to us PF blogger types to create another chain gang targeting relevant information to the topic of emergency preparedness.
This is kinda my thing, so I figured I would chime in.
I have already written a post or two about Prepping and Panic rooms. This one is more about being ready when emergencies break out for people who consider themselves normal and not ‘just go to my bomb shelter‘ people.
Of course if you have a bomb shelter, go there, it is probably your best option :)
Here are some practical tips that make sense and are easy enough to do and could make a personal disaster feel way less disastrous.
(*)Think about this stuff a head of time. You know how it is fun to play the ‘What if we won the lottery‘ game with your spouse? It is at least interesting to play the ‘What if we are caught up in some sort of natural disaster‘ game with your spouse/kids too. remember ‘Chance favors the prepared mind‘.
At a bare bones level, your family should have a rough plan about what to do in case of a house fire. Kids should know to leave the house. Not to hide. And to go to a neighbors house until they find an adult. Also a good idea to have a ‘meet up’ place for your family set and memorized before you need it.
(*) Important papers are just that, important papers. Maybe you enjoy waiting in long lines, but many of your important docs are hard to replace. I keep a copy of Passports, Birth Certificates, SS cards, Deeds, Titles, etc. in a safe at the house and in a security deposit box at a bank. Make an inventory list of everything you own worth more than $50 bucks for insurance purposes. Keep that in the Security Deposit Box too.
I really like the 2 locations approach to crucial paperwork and to emergency funds.
(*) Keep a decent amount of cash at home and a stash of cash at a location outside of your home. If you use a security deposit box, keep some actual cash in it. Hoping the bank will give you cash from your account is one thing, the bank giving you access to your own box to remove cash already in there is another thing.
I also tend to keep some silver aside from just cash, but that is probably starting down the ‘too paranoid for the average joe‘ thinking for this post.
(*) Learn what a BUG OUT BAG(BOB) is and then make one. Simply put, it is a bag filled with useful items, ready to go with you at a moments notice. The BOB can be filled with whatever you figure is a good idea. There are literally thousands of combinations. A good starter kit would have;
flashlight, batteries, candles, water, food, a way to start a fire, phone charger, a way to make questionable water clean, a good knife, medical kit, any necessary meds, a local map.
Lots more ideas; radio, hat, gloves, poncho, trash bags, hand sanitizer, twine/rope, duct tape, energy drinks, zip lock bags, can opener, socks, extra glasses/contacts, personal hygiene items, toilet paper.
You can keep a BOB in your car and one in your house (not packed away deep in the basement closet).
(*) Plenty of food stuffs last a VERY LONG time. There is no harm is stocking up on some pantry goods that don’t expire anytime soon. As a matter of fact, these 10 never expire;
Honey, Rice(just not brown rice), White Vinegar, Vanilla extract, Salt, Cornstarch, Sugar, Dried Beans, Maple Syrup, and Hard Liquor.
Hard Liquor also counts as a barter good, a soul comforter, and an antiseptic. Might as well stock up.
(*) Water is also a must have. I am on a well, so if I loose power, I loose running water. Water does not keep indefinitely so make sure to rotate your water every 6 months or so.
The WaterBob is a great product. It is simply a bag with fill spout that sits inside your bathtub and holds up to 100 gallons, very useful.
Also try to keep some iodine tablets or their equivalency in case you need to make your water potable first. If water is questionable. Either bring it to a rolling boil for 2 minutes or add chlorine bleach (cap full to a gallon).
A couple of last items. Always try to keep some spare gas at the house. If you can spring for it, a portable generator is a GREAT backup plan.
(*)Lastly, have your family plan on calling a friend/relative who lives somewhere else(Grandma, 2 States over) if you get separated and the phone lines are not working well. The person who is OUTSIDE of the affected area will act as a relay for people INSIDE the affected area, make sense? You may have better luck contacting the far away relative than contacting someone else in the same area where communications are disrupted.
Be Safe, Be Prepared.
There are other articles in this chain mail including so far; RetirementManifesto, RetireToRoots, TheGreenSwan, TheLadyinBlack, Minafi, AGaiShanLife, TheFinancialJourneyman, MoneyBeagle, JohnandJaneDoe, AdventureRich, CrispyDoc, ShePicksUpPennies., Uniquegifter, ChroniclesofaFatherwithCents, SomeRandomGuyOnline, 99to1percent, IDreamofFire, FullTimeFinance, ThinkingofSomeday, MyMoneyWizard, and MilitaryDollar.