By now, most of us are aware that September is National Preparedness Month, or as we like to call it, Preptember™. Emergency preparedness is in the air, with local, state, federal, and volunteer organizations offering an abundance of advice. This is a great time to focus on preparedness. Whether you’re a preparedness pro or just a beginner, we hope you’re taking some time to assess your preps. If you haven't had a chance to do so, it's not too late. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of Preptember™.
1. Make a Plan.
If you don’t already have a family emergency plan, now is the time to make one. There are many emergency planning guides available online to get you started, including FEMA’s Ready.gov, RedCross.org, and our Insight Articles on disaster planning. Your plan should include a way to communicate in case your family is separated during an emergency, such as an out-of-state contact to pass messages and a designated meeting point away from home. BePrepared.com/downloadshas preparedness checklists, including a customizable family evacuation plan in PDF format. Make sure all family members understand and practice your emergency plan at least twice a year. This plan should not only include an evacuation plan, but a plan to build up your emergency supplies. Plan what you will do in an emergency and how you will store enough water, food, and other needed supplies.
2. Focus on the Basics.
A good approach to preparedness is the focus on the most immediate needs first. Here is an ordered list of basic emergency preparedness
- Water: Clean drinking water is absolutely critical for daily life, in good times or bad. Each person should store enough water to provide on gallon a day for two weeks (14 gallons). A family of four will need at least 56 gallons. That’s a lot of water! Do you have enough water stored for your family? Do you have portable and stationary water storage? If you have water stored, does it need to be rotated? Do you have a way to filter or treat water?
- Three-Day Emergency Kits: FEMA recommends storing emergency kits with at least enough food, water, and supplies for 72 hours. This is because it may take a few hours or many days for local officials and relief workers to help you depending on the situation.[i]It’s best to keep these supplies in a backpack or duffle bag for easy transport in case of evacuation. Remember, clothing and other shelter items are seasonal, so make sure your kit is appropriately stocked for the coming weather. Do you have an emergency kit? If so, are there any items that need to be rotated? Do all the members of your family (including children) know how to use the items in their kits? Are there any special needs items like prescription medications that need to be updated or added? If you’re not sure what to include in your kit, see our Emergency Kit Checklist.
- Three Month Supply of Everyday Food Storage: You’ve probably heard the popular saying, “Eat what you store and store what you eat.” This is a great place to start for food storage. This type of storage includes non-perishable items your family eats on a regular basis, like canned and dry goods. Find out how many calories per day the members of your family need, and then fill your pantry with enough food to feed them for three months. You can do this by purchasing two or more extras of the items on your shopping list each time you shop (especially if they’re on sale) until you have enough. Then, you simply buy the regular amount and rotate, using the oldest items first. How many days’ worth of food do you have in your home right now? Have the caloric needs of your family members changed? Does your family have a regular menu? What are the expiration dates on the foods you regularly buy?
- Build a Long-Term Emergency Supply: The seven basics of long-term food storage items are wheat, legumes, dry milk, honey, salt, and oil. These are the longest lasting and least expensive items you can store. You can build a supply of these and other items packaged for long-term storage (like dehydrated or freeze-dried foods in #10 cans) over time or all at once. Many experts recommend storingat least a one-year supply for each member of your family. In addition to food, you will need to store water and other necessities like first aid, sanitation, and hygiene supplies. This is perhaps the most daunting aspect of emergency preparedness, but with careful planning, you can build your supply over time.
Use our free Food Storage Analyzer™ to assess your food storage. This helpful online tool allows you to determine your family’s daily caloric needs, input items you already have stored, and assess the nutrition of your food storage. The Food Storage Analyzer does more that calculate calories. It breaks down the nutritional information of the food you input, helps you see what nutrients you need to add, and allows you to order food storage items directly from BePrepared.com. This is possibly the most comprehensive and easy-to-use tools available for planning your food storage.
3. Make Preparedness Part of Your Lifestyle.
There are few things more inconvenient than an unexpected emergency. Preparing for such events takes time, money, and practice. Still, the more you prepare the better off you and your family will be. Integrating long-term food storage items into your family’s daily meals, practicing a home evacuation plan, and practicing ways to live with a minimal amount of water for cooking and bathing may not sound fun to everyone. But if you do these things during the good times, you’ll be better able to deal with the bad times.