Here’s a new year’s resolution you won’t want to give up on – master preparedness 101.
Why are we so sure this will be a resolution you keep? Because emergency preparedness can be the difference between life and death.
As the saying goes, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” No one wants to fail – especially in a disaster.
Whether you are just beginning to prepare for emergencies or have a pantry full of long-term emergency food, take time this year to master preparedness 101.
This may mean stocking up on supplies that you don’t own or brushing up on survival skills you haven’t practiced in a while.
Either way, use this guide to help you master preparedness in 2023.
Start with An Emergency Plan
Preparedness always starts with having a plan. If you haven’t sat down and made an emergency plan, now is the time to do it.
If it has been some time since you made your emergency plan, this is the time to review it to make sure important information (such as contact phone numbers) is up to date.
Your emergency plan should include details about where to go, where to meet with family, what to take with you, and how to contact family, insurance companies, and medical professionals.
Below are links to emergency planning essentials.
Must-Have Preparedness Essentials
When it comes to your emergency plan, you also need to think about what essentials you need to survive if you are forced to evacuate your home.
Many of the items on the Emergency Essentials Checklist you may already own.
However, don’t assume you have everything on the list.
You need to go through the list item by item to make sure you are truly prepared.
Additionally, you need to keep all the items together. If disaster strikes, you will not have time to run through the house with the checklist gathering supplies.
[See Also: Building Emergency Kits 101]
It is important to remember that you don’t want to collect your emergency essentials, leave them, and forget them.
You need to check expiration dates and test batteries occasionally and replace items as needed.
Remember that basic preparedness recommendations BEGIN at having enough for 3 days, but in many emergency situations, you will need more than that.
If you only have 3 days' worth of supplies, now is the time to start building up toward a week or more.
As you prepare, make sure you have the following emergency essentials.
- Water: Water is critical for your survival. In a disaster, you’ll need it to keep hydrated and clean. It’s also essential in cooking (especially rehydrating food storage), laundry, sanitation, and first aid. How much do you need? More than 3 days’ worth. Experts recommend 14 gallons per person as a minimum. That’s one gallon per person per day for two weeks. See Water Storage 101 to learn more.
- Food: Weather and local emergencies can cut off access to power, water, and groceries for days or weeks. Stock up on the long-term food your family will rely on in a crisis, and when the time comes, whether it be a full-scale emergency or just an extended inconvenience, you’ll be glad for your wise investment. Learn about the Seven Food Storage Basics here.
- Temperature Control: Controlling body temperature is crucial in an emergency. You can control your body temperature with the right clothing, gear, and shelter.
- Light: Make sure you have plenty of light sources on hand for emergencies, such as light sticks, flashlights, candles, and lanterns.
- Power: Whether it is a natural disaster or an attack on the power grid, you need to have off-the-grid power sources, such as solar-powered tools, hand-crank weather radios, and generators.
- Communication: Keeping in touch during a disaster is essential. Beyond having an emergency communication plan, you also need emergency communication tools, such as solar phone chargers and radios.
- First Aid: Every home should have a fully stocked first aid kit for emergencies.
You can find even more details about the 12 Tools for Survival in our FREE Downloadable Prep 101: An Introduction to Being Prepared Handbook.
The Basics of First Aid
Knowing the basics of first aid can make all the difference in an emergency.
However, just because you took a CPR class years ago, doesn’t mean you are truly prepared to perform CPR if an emergency happened today.
The way CPR is taught today is very different from how it was taught 10 years ago.
For those of you who have had first aid training in the past, make sure you get a refresher. For those of you who are just beginning, we encourage you to take a First Aid course.
If you really want to up your preparedness game, you can take a more advanced class, such as Wilderness Survival.
Some lifesaving first aid skills to practice this year include:
- Dressing a wound
- Stopping bleeding
- Performing the Heimlich Maneuver
- Stabilizing a Broken Bone
- Performing CPR
Must-Know Preparedness Skills
Emergency supplies are not enough.
If all you have done to prepare is stock your pantry with long-term emergency food, you have not mastered preparedness 101.
In addition to stocking up on necessary supplies, you also need to learn survival skills, such as those below.
- How to Treat Water: You may find yourself stranded outdoors without access to clean water, or your city may have unsafe water. Both cases require knowing how to find and purify water to stay safe.
- How to Signal for Help: The ability to communicate in an emergency is essential. Think of the stories you have heard about people being rescued because they found a way to let searchers know where to find them. Take time this year to practice signaling with a mirror using the sun or learning Morse Code.
- How to Build a Fire: If you know how to build a fire outdoors, you know how to stay warm, boil water, and cook food. It’s even easier if you stock up on fire starter gear.
Plan for Disasters in Your Area
As you work on mastering preparedness 101, carefully consider where you live.
Different areas of the country are more prone to certain natural disasters than others. If you live in a hurricane zone, you will have to include additional supplies and steps to take in your emergency plan.
Once you’ve identified potential threats to your home based on where you live, use the following guides to help you prepare.
Preparedness Away from Home
As much as we’d like to believe an emergency will happen where we have all our supplies on hand, that isn’t always the case.
Often, people find themselves in emergencies on the road or while they are traveling.
That’s why it is just as important to prepare for emergencies on the road as at home.
Be sure to pack a Car Emergency Kit.
An auto emergency kit should include enough high-energy bars and water for a few days, with light sticks, a flashlight, a blanket, hand warmers, sanitation supplies, and a hand-crank power generator for radio and cell phone communication.
In addition to preparing for emergencies on the road, you should also be prepared for emergencies when you travel.
Regardless of your destination or the length of your trip, you never know when you might face difficulty on the road (or on the train, bus, or plane).
Use our Travel Prep 101 Guide to make sure you pack everything you need for emergencies while away from home and the know-how to handle emergencies while traveling.