Search results for: 'water storage'

  • Are You Prepared for Financial Crisis?

    Greece's Central Bank As Investors Face Wipeout Huffington Post

    As I watch the financial crisis unfold in Greece, which has been going through its Great Depression for the last five years, and in China, which is facing a stock market crash suspiciously like the 1929 Wall Street one, I am thankful for a slightly more robust economy here in the United States.

    “It’s unlikely we’re going to have a big crisis like [the Great Depression] again if we heed what’s going on and do some tweaking,” said Ann House, coordinator of the Personal Money Management Center at the University of Utah.

    Not that it matters that much from my family’s perspective. We’re going through a micro version of an economic collapse. Two weeks ago, my husband lost his job. We have tried for years to prepare for economic emergencies. Here are some things we did well – and not so well.

    We built up a short term and long term savings and emergency fund.

    House recommends taking savings out first, via direct deposit, rather than putting away what’s left at the end of the month.

    “I know if I keep extra money in my checking account, I will spend it until it’s gone,” she joked.

    My husband’s office automatically deposited part of his paycheck into a retirement fund.

    In addition, we owned a short term savings to prepare for things like holidays. Then we created a third savings account for emergencies – especially medical bills.

    Hooray for us. Only 29 percent of Americans have an emergency savings, according to a survey from Bankrate, so that puts us ahead, right?

    We didn’t save enough. Our emergency fund was gone by June. We thought it was plentiful because we didn’t realize this year would be the Year of the Instacare (not to be confused with the Year of Soils). My husband needed surgery, I endured dental work, a son had chronic ear infections and a daughter caught pneumonia. We’ve spent more time in doctor’s offices than some doctors.

    When my husband lost his job we had enough in short term savings for two months’ expenses if nothing went wrong.

    Money Flies AwayUnfortunately, just before he lost his job his car wheezed its last wheeze, necessitating its replacement. Since then we’ve needed to replace four tires in the family car; part of our sprinkler system broke; my income decreased and more medical expenses popped up. Yes, this was our last two weeks. We’re readjusting our expectations.

    Most financial planners recommend saving enough for six months’ worth of expenses. We should have done more to get to that level.

    House also recommends organizing important paperwork.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “Emergency Financial First Aid Kit” is a great resource to organize important papers, House said.

    The 44-page booklet includes four sections that identify what information to collect and keep, like social security cards, insurance policies, prescriptions and emergency contact information.

    We keep our important documents – birth certificates, loan paperwork, insurance information, etc., protected and handy. Some is in a fireproof, waterproof safe. More is in an independent hard drive and in cloud-based storage.

    Hooray for us, right?

    Important advice: If you put stuff in a safe, don’t lose the key.

    House suggests keeping up to $1,000 in cash with a 72-hour kit. After all, a coronal mass ejection can knock out an ATM almost as easily as a Greek government order.

    We keep an emergency storage with food, water, clothing, shelter and money.

    Hooray for us, right?

    Not necessarily. The cash is all in larger bills.

    “If you were out of water, and somebody came by with a water selling wagon, you might be giving the person a $100 bill for water. It’s one-dollar bills that are going to come in handy for emergencies,” she said.

    Our family could keep emergency kits better updated. The last time I checked one daughter’s emergency bag I found diapers. She was six.

    Finally, House encouraged reducing debt and improving credit scores.

    House said more than 60 percent of prospective employers check credit scores, so a good score can mean the difference between getting and missing out on a job. It takes time and effort to improve a credit score: remembering to pay all bills on schedule, keeping oldest credit cards and paying off other debt, and painstakingly searching credit reports for inevitable mistakes. All three credit bureaus must give one free credit report per year.

    We improved our credit scores and eliminated credit card debt.

    Hooray for us, right?

    Well, yeah. Hooray for us. We’ve got to do something right.

    Oh, and if you hear of any positions in emergency management, law enforcement or writing and editing, please let us know.


    - Melissa



    Interview with Ann House: July 7, 2015

    Posted In: Budgeting Tagged With: financial planning, debt, Greece, financial preparedness

  • Houston Flood: A Lesson Learned

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    The recent flood in Houston, Texas has many stories of loss and destruction. But there is another side to the story that many people don’t think about. It’s the lesson of learning.

    For the Sillitoe family, this lesson came at the expense of their home and many of their belongings. Two feet of water rushed into their home during the night. Roy Sillitoe and his wife Rebecca did what they could. At first, they tried to stop the water from entering their home by shoving towels under the base of doors and they used buckets to fill the bathtub. But when the water kept coming in quickly, they started moving what they could to higher locations. Roy wasn’t sure what exactly it was he and his family needed to do. They managed to save some of their children’s toys, but other keepsakes were ruined.

    Despite their loss, Roy feels that his family will be fine. In fact, he believes that being a part of all this was good for his kids. He said that “they can see how we respond to it and stay positive.” Among other things, Roy feels that this disaster has been an effective learning tool for his children. “It’ll happen to them in their lifetime, sometime they’ll have to suffer something tough. So this is good.”

    Teaching about and preparing our kids for disasters can really give them a leg up in the future. Roy’s family had to go through a major disaster before the learning experience came. Although it’s good to learn from these disasters, it is likewise important to learn before these disasters happen. That’s why we’re encouraging everyone to take some time this month to practice your prep.

    By practicing for disasters, you’re accepting the fact that a disaster can affect you, but you’re also proving to yourself that when it does come, you’ll be ready. There’s no need to wait until the disaster arrives before you start evaluating your emergency plans.

    The time has come to stop ignoring the possibility of being effected by a disaster. Live Science wrote an article on why people don’t learn from disasters. In that article Gene Whitney of the Committee on Increasing National Resilience to Hazards and Disasters (say that ten times fast) said that “despite repeated disasters, the public continues to turn a blind eye to the risks.”

    Prepare to FailWhy do we keep doing that? There have been countless times in which we have seen disaster after disaster wreaking havoc on cities, communities, families, and individuals. We see it happen, but for some reason we don’t think it will happen to us. That’s where we need to start changing our mindset.

    Roy Stillitoe’s mindset following the flood was that of education. He found his experience an unpleasant one to be certain, but he also saw the benefit for his children. They could learn from that disaster. Although it took a flood, he hopes his children will remember their experience in the future so they will be better prepared for other disasters that will inevitably come knocking (or just barge right in).

    That is something most people don’t generally do. A survey done by Robert Meyer (in the same article by Live Science), a professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania, said that “we [ie. people] underattend to the future, we too quickly forget the past and we too readily follow the lead of people who are no less myopic than we are.”

    Why don’t we plan ahead for disaster? We attend to the future in other ways, such as going to college to get a good job, move from a one-bedroom apartment to a three bedroom house to have more room for your growing family, and even have life insurance, because we want our loved ones to be provided for, just in case. So why don’t we look ahead for disasters?

    Meyer believes that we need to change our behavior. He feels that society needs to makes safety a norm, beginning with education in the school system. But since it isn’t necessarily being taught in the school system, we can start by teaching it in our home. And again, one way to do that is to practice, practice, practice!

    Roy Stillitoe and his family learned some valuable lessons in disaster planning because a flood came through their home. I hope we can all take that one step (or more) further and learn those lessons before disasters come. Go out and not only learn what you should do during specific disasters, but actually pretend that the disaster is actually happening. Practice living in a tent for a day or two. Practice eating only your freeze-dried food (hey, at least you’ll still have good meals). Practice using your emergency gear in any way you can think of. Knowing what to do is only half the battle. Now you’ve just got to put what you know into practice.


    Practice Your Prep


    In what ways have you practiced using your prep? Let us know in comments!

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Planning, Practice Your Prep Tagged With: lessons, Houston, practice your prep, Flash flood, flood, family

  • Why You Need to Begin You Disaster Planning

    When do you start thinking about disaster planning?

    Disaster PlanningAlthough we don’t need to dwell on thoughts of disaster every moment of every day (what kind of life would that be, anyway?), we should still keep them in mind throughout the year. I know, I know, but you don’t even want to be thinking about major snowstorms in the middle of the summer, tornadoes in January, job loss working at your sweet job, or earthquakes in…wherever and whenever! And why not? Probably because it’s not snow storm season in the summer (unless you're in Canada...) and tornado season starts in the spring, not January, so you’re just not thinking about it. But here, come in a little closer to your monitor and I’ll let you in on a little secret: that’s what they want you to think. The longer you put it off, the easier it is for those disasters to come at you without warning.

    Diabolical, if you ask me.

    But, believe it or not, there is a way to counter these evil schemes. It’s called planning. It’s what you do before road trips, mapping out your college career, and yes, even before a crisis or disaster happens. There’s no sense in waiting until you see the twister on approach or you get that pink slip from your boss, because by then, it’s too late.

    Disaster planningThere are a number of different areas in which you should keep in mind for disaster planning. Food, water, and shelter have been discussed ad nauseam on this blog, however those are still some of the most crucial areas in preparation. I think we all understand the need to prepare for disasters. If an earthquake or tornado or flood comes strolling through town, it can not only ruin your home, but local grocery stores, farms, and other places that provide you with food. You might not have running water, so you’d need some sort of backup. And if your house gets washed away or crumbles to the ground (or is just far too unstable to trust during the night), you’re going to want some sort of shelter for you and your family.

    Losing a job can be just as devastating. Although your home is still intact and your faucets work, you no longer have an income and still have four mouths to feed (or five, or six…). Having an emergency food storage will not only help you financially (because investing in food is a real thing), but will help bring you at least some peace of mind knowing your family is still being fed during the interim of finding a new job.

    But of course, you know why you should plan. But now the question is what should you plan. Although each individual and family is different and has their own individual needs, there are still some basics for planning that you should keep in mind. has, as usual, some great ideas for how and what to plan.

    You may want to start with a family emergency communications plan. This should include things such as everyone knowing where to meet following a disaster if your home is evacuated, out-of-town emergency contacts, school and work contacts, and medical contacts. Make sure your kids have your phone numbers memorized, and remember: if it’s not an emergency, text; don’t call. Text messages may have an easier time getting through and won’t tie up phone lines that emergency workers will need.

    Use technology to help communicate with loved ones that you’re OK. The internet is the third most popular way for Americans to get their information regarding a disaster and let their friends and loved ones know they’re safe.

    Disaster planning - Safety CheckA personal example of this comes from the Nepal Earthquake. The morning it happened, I woke up with an alert on my phone that a huge quake had hit Nepal. It sounded bad, and I hoped it just sounded worse than it was. Then, I remembered one of my good friends was over in Nepal doing humanitarian work. I immediately went to Facebook to see if there was any news from him. Well, there was. Facebook was on it, and the Facebook Safety Check alert popped up on my screen right after I logged in. It said I had one friend in the affected area, and he was marked as safe. Then I found a status update of his. As it turns out, he was in the airport, just about to leave Nepal when the earthquake struck. He and his group were fine – just temporarily delayed. I learned all that from Facebook, and then I stopped worrying about him.

    So you see, Facebook can be a great way of making sure your friends and family know you’re alright. Of course, Facebook is just one way to go about it. Find a way to make the Internet work for you.

    Next on the list is knowing where your utility shut-offs are. According to, “natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires following disasters.” Shutting off your utilities after a disaster can really save your home – and your lives. Find the shut-off valves for your natural gas, water, and electricity, so if there is a concern, you’ll know where to go.

    Disaster planning - Dolla bill (y'all)Financial preparedness is something we don’t always think about, but should still plan for. Have some extra cash stashed somewhere in your house (preferably in bills no larger than $20), because there’s always the possibility that credit and debit machines won’t work. Also plan to have adequate insurance for your home, car, and belongings. Along with this, have your important documents and records in an easily accessible location. Doing all this will help you recover faster from disaster.

    Lastly, plan ahead to be prepared with safety skills. First aid and CPR classes can provide the knowledge and skills you need to help save and protect those close to you. By receiving official certification from the American Red Cross, you’ll even be protected when you give aid to others. Without that protection (as sad as it is to say), you could face lawsuit, so make sure you plan ahead so when the time comes to help, you won’t be afraid to.

    Well, I hope this gives you a good starting place for planning ahead for disaster. Of course, there are many other areas to plan for, such as shelter, heat, and sanitation. But this should get you started. Check out our other blog posts to learn more about preparing for disasters.


    Additional Reading:

    How Good Sanitation Can Save Your Life:

    4 Reasons Why You Need an Emergency Shelter:

    How Emergency Food Storage Can See You Through Unemployment:

    Posted In: Planning Tagged With: disaster planning, be prepared, preparation

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