The country has been in a slow grinding slide ever downward for some time now. Taxes are being added at an alarming rate, while our paychecks are vanishing at an even faster one. Food costs are rising, as is everything else. Jobs, homes, businesses, life savings and retirements are being lost--while massive crushing debt is gained. The ghoulish specter of runaway inflation is creeping ever nearer. We see a government and its elites getting richer and more powerful, while the people beneath them are being made poorer and weaker. We see loss after loss of traditional freedom and right, as Executive Orders and Congressional Bills hit us, one after the other, like a Middle Eastern stoning. And we realize that we might be ones that see the American Dream turned into a nightmare.
And it doesn't end there.
For every time we turn on the news or load up the internet or pick up a paper we see natural disasters wrecking entire populations, the utter financial failure of yet another nation, bloody wars spilling into country after country, insane despotic leaders threatening nuclear war against anyone who stands against them, terrorists shrieking death to everyone who will not bow to their rule--and more and more and more as the world seems to slowly death spiral into burning collapse.
The despair is tangible now. The anger is growing.
And so is the fear.
We heard it for the first time openly this last Christmas. As despair and anger and fear fought against the holiday. Over and over in stores and streets, the bitterly grieving whispers echoed: "Why are we even bothering to celebrate anymore? What have we got to look forward to now--the apocalypse?"
But the greatest evil despair and anger and fear brings us is not destruction. It is forgetting.
You see, throughout time, every country, every people, have experienced the very thing we are now: dark days. Just think back to your classroom years and page again through the old history book that once lay on your desk.
The Irish Potato Famine
The Black Death
Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Zedong.
Damghan, Antioch, and Crete earthquakes.
World War I and II, the Korean and Vietnam wars.
And on and on and on. From the beginning of humanity to its end, there has always been dark days. Always. And yet, humanity has always celebrated. Even in the midst of the darkest of days, they still celebrated.
Because they remembered what we are in danger of currently forgetting.
The very purpose of celebration: hope, gratitude, and joy.
Hope that good will come, that suffering will have an end, that we can rise again and that there is still reason to rejoice even now. That this isn't all--that there is more and it will come. That we can be more than what we are now. That we can do it, no matter how hard or impossible it seems--for others have.
Gratitude to survive, to live, to have even a single tiny thing to make life more bearable. For all the great deeds or hard work or bitter suffering of others, which have come down through time or from across nations or even from people you never knew even existed, to now directly effect your life and the lives of others for the better. For all the sacrifices that have been given to save you and anyone else who needed saving, even in the smallest of moments. For every act of kindness or goodness or mercy or honor which ever made all the difference.
Joy, that darkness does have an end, that evil does not and cannot last forever, that good can come out of or in spite of any suffering, that there is a purpose to life which is noble and grand--and that there is something majestic and beautiful and greater beyond, waiting for us and it more than worth anything we suffer now.
Celebrations are reminders.
So how do we celebrate in dark days? When times are hard and we just don't have all the things we used to have to celebrate with--how do we still celebrate then?
Easy. We go back to our ancestors' ways of celebrating.
Throughout the world and across time, there are two common parts of celebration.
First, there is the expression of the reason of the celebration. This can be an oral recitation or reading of the record of the event being celebrated (like reading The Nativity Story from the Bible or the priest's statement of "We are gathered here today to. . ." at a wedding, for Christians) or it can be a reenactment or ceremony/rite performance (like Hanukkah for Jews) which is a physical way to recite the event and connect the present celebration with the past event.
Second, there is the showing of one or more or all of hope, gratitude and joy, through physical means. This can be anything from singing, dancing, game playing, gift giving and receiving, decorating surroundings or creating objects/art which signify important aspects of the reason being celebrated, and either consuming food or beverage or abstaining from one or both.
This means, if we want to celebrate, we need to have the knowledge of the thing we are celebrating as well as the physical expressions of it--and the necessary items to complete the celebration experience.
This means you need the record of the reason you are celebrating (books recording it or the accurate memory of an oral historian/authorized authority), instructions on any aspects of celebrating it (song lyrics, dance step instructions, ceremony or rite instructions, recipes, etc), and any objects or edibles necessary for completing the celebration (like particular herbs, candles, holy objects, etc).
I suggest you sit down and carefully go through the list of the celebrations you, your family, your religion, or your people/country celebrate. Write down each one and what you need to fulfill the experience properly--both in knowledge and items. I'm not talking about what the marketing industry would have you need to fulfill the experience--just you! Gather that information and those items and store them in labeled, waterproof containers in a specifically designated Holiday Section part of your Home Storage Supply we have talked about in a previous blog. It is really important that you take the time to do this carefully--get help from family members, religious leaders, etc, to make sure you don't accidentally forget something. Remember that you are celebrating for a specific reason, don't lose the meaning by getting buried in the marketing and don't forget to think outside the box when planning because you might not have electricity (think power out) or transportation (think blizzard or other such event) when you celebrate. And don't forget your personal or family 'tradition' take on the celebration!
For example, take a Christmas Tote/s.
Obviously, an artificial tree with stand and ornaments must reside in the Holiday Section of your Home Storage Supply. But, one tote can easily store the boxed, canned or bottled foods for the eating and drinking aspect--along with the recipes needed to make them. Remember to store ALL of the items needed for your recipes, as you can't count on being able to get anything outside of your home in dark days--you might not have any money to purchase them or they might not even be available then. Here is where a good ingredient alternative list comes in handy--as well as the knowledge of other ways foods and drinks come packaged/prepared. Remember any traditional treats or special diet needs--and take into account the amount of people you might have attending.
Another tote can hold necessary books (like a Bible, traditional song books, customary story books like The Night Before Christmas or other favorites, etc) and items you need (like candles, traditional games and their instructions, Nativity Set, etc). Be sure and put in the best quality you can--you might not be able to replace them and they may need to last a long time. Here is also where some generic traditional toys for children could be stored--like dolls, stuffed animals, games, etc. While you should be able to make your own toys/gifts with the information, supplies and tools in your Home Storage Supply (even be able to add your ability to trade or barter to help you), it is important that you also have some 'ready made' toys/gifts just in case you have someone you didn't original expect (like a child orphaned or fostered or staying with you--or one in your area that would not otherwise receive anything). Again, always store the best quality items you can--it will make all the difference to someone! And they might be all they will have.
Dark days have never stopped celebrations before--don't let them stop you now. Go back to 'basics', past the marketing and fluff. Go back to the true meaning of your celebrations. To what truly matters. Because if you take the time to truly understand the real reason behind a celebration, then even if you have absolutely nothing but yourself, you can still experience the hope, gratitude and joy its remembrance is meant to bring you.
And those can take you through even the Apocalypse.
Because those will give you the courage and perspective to see past it.
The universe has certain natural laws. And sometimes its first one seems subtitled Murphy. But whether you find yourself searching the Help Wanted Ads, are trying to make ends meet just that tiny bit further, or are rebuilding your life after a major disaster--you can still provide for your needs and keep your independence. As Disney says, all it takes is faith and a little bit of Pixie Dust--or in other words, ingenuity, hard work, and careful planning!
By bartering or through your own cottage industry, of course!
Bartering is simply the exchange of goods or services. When we barter, we trade an item for an item, an item for a service, or a service for a service.
Before you freak out that you don't know how to barter, you need to remember that, actually, you do. Remember trading stuff out of your lunch at school? Or how about trading 'favors' with your sibling? Or how about going to work each day and getting a piece of paper at the end of the month with a dollar sign on it? The truth is, we've been bartering all our lives--and all of humanity's history! While the stuff we've bartered for has changed according to our needs and what we value, the fact that we barter still remains.
Sure, you can pick up training books on Amazon to learn how to barter better--and I highly recommend it!--even watch tv shows like Trading Up to see how some people go at it and pick up ideas from their ideas--but in truth, the basics of bartering are actually quite simple and steady.
After all, you bartered as a child, remember?
So let's refresh the adult you on the basics of bartering.
First, you have to decide what you want to get or what service you need done. This includes taking the time to research the current 'market value' of them. Remember, you can only successfully close a trade if everyone involved feels it is actually fair. Hopefully, you already know this, but make sure that what you want is legal. Or you might find that you end up trading for a neat pair of orange coveralls!
Second, you must choose what you will be willing to provide in trade back--either in goods or services. Bartering is a two way street! This means you need to know the market value of things at your end, as well. Just as you don't want to cheat someone else, you definately don't want to under sell yourself, either! And again, keep it legal! Federal Agents do pose as potential barter partners to catch illegal trades--I actually know someone who learned this the hard way!
Third, you need to connect yourself with the person who has or does what you want or need. And not just any Joe Schmoe, it needs to be the person who also wants what you have or do back. This takes networking--and includes taking the time to ask around, post ads (think bulletin boards, newspapers, magazines, or online), and going to barter organizations (both online and off) to make the connections you're looking for. Be patient and choose carefully, you want to deal with a reputable person--and in a good way!
Fourth, start talking with your potential barter partner. If you've done all your research ahead of time and are talking to someone who has a good chance of being interested, all you have to do now is be courteous and chat for a bit. Make that human connection. This lets both of you decide if you want to deal with each other. Then propose your trade. If the other guy is interested, the haggling can now begin. Stay courteous. If the two of you can't agree on a deal, that's fine. Shake hands and part respectfully. If you can, then shake hands and keep your part of the bargain. Murphy's may be the universe's first law, but The Golden Rule is definately the second!
So have fun and be careful, bartering can be a really powerful financial assist.
But if bartering is a powerful assist, cottage industry and be a mainstay strength.
Cottage Industry is simply small-scale industry done at home--usually by family members using their own skills and equipment. In other words, it is the industry that comes out of the home rather than out of the factory.
Where does cottage industry happen?
Why, all around you! You can see the goods at craft fairs, small 'mom and pop' shops, SCA markets, and online at personal websites or in 'shops' on internet markets like Etsy or even eBay. You see its services advertised on family owned cleaning vans or on their landscaping trucks. Cottage industry can be done by grandmothers knitting in their favorite chair or by a young college student bent over a computer keyboard. It can be baked goods done in a small kitchen or photography sessions performed in a corner of a garage. It can be an income supplement or the entire income itself.
So how do you begin your own cottage industry?
First, sit down with some paper and a pen, and carefully decide what goods or service you want to provide. Analyze yourself! Know your abilities and interests, research the costs (which include needed equipment, base supplies, advertising, etc.), and determine your market (who you are selling to, your competitors, all projected sales, and your future revenue sustainability). Here is where the quality of your research will make or break you later. Be smart--don't pull punches with your ego--if you aren't truly skilled enough to produce a particular item or service in quality, either get skilled or find something you are actually good at! This isn't a pride issue, this is a monetary issue. Those that are skilled, get the income.
Second, get to know your local, state and federal laws in reference to cottage industry. Again, it's the orange coverall. Don't short yourself in the end for a tempting short cut now! Keep careful records, pay your taxes, deliver quality goods or services, follow all regulations, and be wise. Risk taking is for Vegas, not for when you or your family are relying on food getting on the table and bills being paid!
Third, create an 'official' workspace and hammer out a 'real' work schedule. Why? Because this will make the difference between having a hobby and having a cottage industry. Professional structure gives professional results. If you want your cottage industry to be a true income--whether in goods or services--you must give it true attention.
Fourth, do your self marketing. This can be stuff like business cards and websites, ads in papers and online forums, flyers on bulletin boards or attending activities in your target markets. If people don't know you exist, they can't buy from you. Basic logic. And don't forget to take advantage of the already esisting barter organizations and network--or available targeted markets like Etsy! They are some of the best and fastest ways to get yourself out there.
So, now you are thinking about barter and cottage industry!
Remember that whether times are hard or just tight, bartering and cottage industry can help you make ends meet and keep your financial independence. And there is nothing as satisfying as providing for yourself or your family through your own ingenuity, hard work, and careful planning!
Take the evening to sit down and do some thinking.
Uncertain times doesn't have to mean uncertain income.
Some of our most vulnerable people in emergencies are the elderly.
Before we can properly plan for their care in emergencies, we need to create a personal assessment of them. This means that to begin, first we must determine two essential things:
Where are they located? What are their needs?
The elderly are typically in one of three permanent locations--living with family members, residing in their own homes, or staying in an assisted care facility. Where they spend the majority of their time, determines in huge part how you make your plans for emergencies. One, because it gives you a good starting point of their basic needs. Two, it determines where you will be storing their supplies. And three, it lets you know how to alter your plans best to accommodate them and you in emergencies.
Let's take each of the three locations and go through the determining points noted above.
Living with family
Elderly people living with family usually need some form of assistance to function in the day to day environment. While this can be something like just needing help with mobility, it can also mean needing total assistance to stay alive. Generally, their needs in this location are tended to by family members entirely--sometimes with occasional help from trained medical personnel. This means there should be at least one person on site who is familiar with and able to help them in emergencies. Their emergency supplies will be located with the rest of the household's supplies and because they are already present, there is no need to plan for bringing them to your location for safety--though you will want to plan for moving them from your location in case evacuation is necessary.
Those living in their own homes usually are able to completely take care of their own day to day needs--though some may have outside assistance in areas they have decreased ability or medical requirements in. Their emergency supplies will be located in their own home but you will need to plan for the possibility of relocating them and their supplies in emergencies due to safety concerns. You will also need to keep up on their needs and receive any training yourself which could assist you, should you need to relocate them to your home in an emergency, as you may not have the ability to bring in outside assistance.
Assisted Care Facility
Elders living in an assisted care facility generally have severe needs requiring constance observation and professional help. Their emergency supplies may be stored here in whole or in part, with any remaining being located at the family member's home nearest them. Emergency relocation from a care facility is rarely to a family member home--and is usually to another care facility or medical facility, due to the advanced needs of the elders in this area. Your plans will have to be detailed and well-laid out, to tend their needs--and it is highly recommended that you make sure the facility they reside in has extensive and realistic emergency plans in place for all the residents, with all the emergency supplies on site and sufficient trained personnel present to actually be able to enact the plans. Care facilities are notoriously understaffed and undersupplied on a regular basis--a situation which becomes even worse in emergencies. You need to know the facility's plans, who is helping with evacuations and where they will be taken, how emergency supplies are getting to the facility in emergencies and how much is kept on hand regularly, who will be assisting the residents throughout the emergency, how regular daily needs will be met--even without power, the training levels of all staff, etc. If needed, contact state or federal agencies to get the facility your elder is located in, up to safe and responsible levels. But make no mistake, caregiving is a job--which means in emergencies, you might not have anyone show back up to work. So be prepared to take over all care of your elder if needed or be able to move them to another site safely--you just might have to. This source gives a good idea of what a care facility should have considered and tended to in their emergency planning, print it out, study it, and take it with you to the facility. In fact, make another copy and give it to them. And follow up until their emergency plans are excellent.
So, now that we know the effects locations make on your emergency plans for the elderly, it is time to begin building your plans.
There are a HUGE number of organizations currently in existence which can help you plan realistically and as accurately as possible for your elders in emergencies. You will NEED to do research to narrow all the information down and specialize it to the particular needs your elders have. I strongly recommend beginning with the following sites and going from there:
www.disability.gov This site is amazing--and hosts a huge library of topics which are sortable by need area--and provides information for elders as well as their caregivers.
www.myreadybook.com This is an essential emergency informational tool for any elder--and gives them the ability to instantly inform any caregiver or emergency personnel of their needs. And it is neatly portable, so relocation needs do not endanger your elder with the possible loss of vital information.
www.fema.gov This site holds a large number of references for planning for elders in emergencies (FEMA 476 Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and Other Special Needs, is but one of the resources available.)
There are additional assists from the Red Cross, the Alzheimer's Association, AARP, Ready, Homeland Security, Emergency Preparedness Initiative, etc.
Now, once you've done all your research from professional and up-to-date sources, it is time to begin actually making your emergency plans. If your elder is able to understand, it is essential that you make all emergency plans together--just as you should have made all emergency plans for your family with the members who will be effected by them. Plans can only work if they are correctly made and KNOWN.
I will not take the time here to relist the areas of planning that are already covered in previous posts--instead, I will add the information here which is specifically for elders.
Obviously, you will need to focus any information on your elder's needs, so remember to adapt accordingly.
Elders require special attention in the following areas:
Medical Hygiene Mobility Cognition Protection
You must plan for their daily medical needs. Because emergencies threaten the ability to get to a doctor easily, you need to arrange with your elder's doctor to have at least a two week extra supply of all medicinal needs. If possible, a thirty day supply is best. You also need to have all of your elder's medical information in one location which is easily accessible in emergencies, should you or trained personnel need to relocate them--this is where the My Ready Book really shines. Do not forget that you need to plan for all of your person's medical assists, as well. This means everything from hearing aids and batteries, to oxygen, to walking assists, to eyeglasses and dentures, blood sugar monitoring devices, to service animals--with everything needed to maintain them, too. It would also be a very good idea to have a manual replacement for anything battery operated, if at all possible--or the means to recharge the batteries. Be sure that you and any other responsible family member knows how to correctly give all medicine and operate all medical assists. If you need to evacuate your elder, you must bring all medicines, medical history and information, necessary medical assists and service animals with them! Failure to do so may literally mean life or death of your elderly person! So plan ahead and carefully.
Keeping clean in emergencies is essential--and can be significantly harder for the elderly to manage. You must have toileting supplies (emergency toilet, wipes, toilet paper, sanitizer, and any incontinence or diapering items needed), bathing supplies (body wipes, soap, 'sponge' bath items, etc.), grooming supplies (specialized nail clippers, shaving items, comb or brush, tooth and denture items, etc.) and laundry supplies (for manually washing clothing and bedding). You must also be trained in properly toileting, sponge bathing, and grooming the elderly. And yes, it does take training to do it right!
Elders often have mobility issues. This can be something as a simple need for a steady arm to lean on to a cane or walker, or it can mean something more complex like a wheelchair or scooter. Your person could need help getting up and down--or be bedridden entirely. If possible, have more than one essential mobility item--that way if one is lost, stolen or damaged, your person is not left unassisted. Remember to have extra batteries and battery chargers for any assists your elder needs--and manual versions of essential ones, if possible. Remember that this area also includes your long range mobility plans--evacuation and relocation. Some elders can be moved by a regular vehicle, others require wheelchair accessible vans, and some require a full medical transportation. Know what your person needs and plan for it.
The mental state of your elder is something you need to really plan for. The Alzheimer's Association has a lot of assistance to provide for people with needs in this area--from helps in planning, to GPS tracking, to medical alert tags, to helplines. They can be contacted here: www.alz.org Remember that emergencies are seriously high octane stress for adults of full mental abilities, let alone someone who doesn't. Be patient and compassionate--you WILL make the difference for them in an emergency, for better or worse. I strongly recommend taking professional training in how to communicate and assist elders with cognition issues. Don't just wing it. You can hurt your elder badly by being untrained--and bring legal action against yourself for the abuse. You need to be a source of comfort and stability in an emergency, so learn how to be.
Emergencies bring out the best and the worst of people--they also bring damaged buildings, disrupted power, broken water or sewer pipes, and a host of other hazards. You need to provide as much protection for your elder as is possible. This means everything from doing or making sure is done any repairs or hazard-proofing of their home or facility, providing non-powered means to maintain daily living over extended emergencies, to making their place as criminally protected as possible. Know the possible emergencies which could effect their area--and plan for dealing with them. This could mean fire alarms and extinguishers, assist 'grab' bars throughout the home, emergency immediate contact ability should your person fall and be unable to reach a phone, non-electrical lighting (preferably non-flammable) for loss of power, etc. If this means you will have to relocate them, then have the ability to do so--and the secure location to take them to. Do NOT count on the 'goodness' of others--or their sense of 'duty'. Your elder's care is your responsibility.
Now, you have the basic information to start your emergency plans for your elder--go for it. If at all possible, sit down with your elder and talk with them, include them in the planning process. Make sure they know how to respond safely to emergencies--and that they feel secure that their needs are going to be accurately met. You have a ton of professional sources out there--do your research and take any training you need. Remember to have your elder learn and train as much as they can, with you. Assist any staff members or facility operators in developing quality and realistic emergency plans. Go back through the previous posts to this blog, center the Layers of Personal Emergency Preparedness we've talked about before on your elder. Prepare their kits and build up their supplies. Use the information you have learned today, to enhance everything for their best benefit. You can make all the difference for your elder's life.
Doing the laundry is part of your normal routine. Whether you have your own washer and dryer or use a commercial facility, it's a given that you will be dealing with dirty stuff at some point.
Even in emergencies, there is just no getting around the need to do laundry.
But how do you do your laundry when you don't have electricity?
The answer is: manually.
Happily, however, you've got choices in how you do it manually!
But how do I know what will work best for me?
How much laundry will I have to do? Is it just me I'm planning for--or do I have a family's level of laundry to take into consideration? Could I have more people with me than I normally do in an emergency--friends or extended family?
What you are trying to figure out, is the easiest way for you to do the amount of laundry you could at worst need to do. This lets you figure out what to pick as your manual washing option, so you can do laundry more efficiently. And more efficiently means easier in the long run!
So what are your options?
Now, sure, you could wash your laundry by hand in a plugged sink. Or take your laundry down to the nearest creek and pound it with rocks. Either works. But the first isn't practically for doing a lot of laundry and the second isn't very secure in times of emergencies when you need to keep an eye out for bad guys at the same time you do your underwear--or sanitary for what you might unintentionally introduce into the drinking water supply!
So what we are going to talk about is using manual washing 'machines'. These give you a lot of pluses. They give you the ability to do even a lot of laundry on a regular basis in emergencies. They stand up to long term use so you are covered even in extended emergencies and their long aftermaths. They let you remain in your home or on your property for better security safety while you wash. They improve your sanitation levels by improving your cleaning levels. And they also make doing laundry by hand easier.
And anything that makes a chore easier is good!
So let's start by learning about our options.
Now, there are typically three standard divisions of manual washing:
*Board and Basin
Let's talk about each division--remember to keep in mind your earlier answers, so you can pick which one will work the best for your needs. And your backup!
These are operated by turning a crank handle, forcing water by rotation through laundry to clean it. The fastest and lowest effort to operate--they are the best for large laundry needs or long term emergency use. They range from the portable model types RV owners, apartment dwellers, and military personnel favor like Wonder Wash--to the full size machines used by non-electric powered communities like the Amish prefer, such as the Home Queen Wringer Washers.
Board and Basin
These are the ones most people are familiar with from Westerns and other historical styled tv shows--consisting of a basin or large tub and a ribbed board (called a washboard). Clothes are worked up and down the board to scrub them clean. A second basin or tub is needed to 'rinse' your laundry. There are both antique and modern set ups available for purchase.
This style uses a bucket and a specially made laundry plunger like the Rapid Washer to work the dirt out of laundry through an up and down motion. A second bucket for use as a rinse bucket is necessary to plunge the soap out of laundry. Again, there are antique and modern versions for you to choose from. This set up is usually the cheapest--in fact, you can even create your own 'makeshift' set up, using a NEW industrial strength toilet plunger and two buckets.
So now that you know your options, choose the laundry set up which best fits the answers you gave earlier. You can purchase some of these set ups from antique stores, home supply stores or warehouses. I recommend using Amazon or Lehman's (both available for online shopping).
But don't forget--no matter what set up you choose, you are going to need accessories!
What sort of accessories?
Think of stuff like: buckets to haul water (and a heavy duty pull wagon if you want to be nice to yourself or the poor dude doing the water detail), more buckets to hold wet clothing or do rinses in, laundry line and clothespins for hanging up wrung out clothes for drying, sturdy laundry baskets or bags, soap and soap grater, just to start with. If you want to be able to iron your clothing without power, you'll need metal irons (called Sad Irons). Of course, you'll need to be able to boil water in large quantities, so have industrial strength stainless steel stockpots or even better, large cast iron dutch ovens for use over coals (you'll want to save any fuel-operated heating means for stuff like cooking!).
But whatever laundry set up you choose, take the time to read up on how to use it--and practice using it! Believe it or not, but there are actual skills needed to effectively do your laundry manually! Be smart and take the time to learn them before you need them.
So sit down and figure out what will work best for you and get started.
Planning your food supplies for emergencies takes more than just stuffing cans or boxes on your shelves.
First, because you can't count on being able to just pop back out to the store to pick up something you forgot.
Severe winter weather could make using roads crazy talk. Trucker strikes could halt food shipments into your area. Power outs could force stores to shut down. Godzilla could decide to walk through your city and squish everything.
The point is, you might not be able to just go pick up something from the store.
And second, because your food supplies need to do more than just fill your stomach--they actually have to take care of your needs.
So what are your needs?
Well, to find out what your needs are, start by considering the following twelve factors:
*Group Size--How many people do you need to plan for? Could there be any unexpected additions to this number?
*Duration of Need--How long could you need to rely on your food supplies without the opportunity to restock?
*Exertion Levels--What is the maximum level of physical work you might need to do? Over how many hours, days, weeks, or months?
*Weather--What is the worst possible conditions you could be exposed to? For how many hours, days, weeks, or months?
*Nutritional Balance--What foods do you need to stay in prime health? Are you planning a food supply which will let you do everything you might need to do? Have you planned correctly for the nutritional needs of any special groups in your home--children, elderly, pregnant females, etc?
*Individual Dietary Needs--Are there any special dietary requirements you need to plan for? Do you need to compensate for any allergies, illnesses, diseases, religious requirements, or any other necessary food choice alterations for yourself or anyone else?
*Food Preferences--What do you and your people like to eat?
*Expense and Availability--What is your financial budget for building your emergency food supplies? Are there items which may become unavailable to purchase before others? In what order of importance should you acquire items?
*Storage--What foods store well over long periods of time? Where will you store your food supplies? Are the places you choose, secure and pest (or other threat of damage or loss) free? Do you have the skills and materials to properly and safely store additional food as it becomes available? Can you protect your supplies in these locations?
*Preparations--What do you require to prepare these supplies for eating? Do you need any repair, maintenance or replacement items for this? If there is no power, do you have sufficient fuel stored to prepare your foods? What is your alternative preparation means for when you run out of fuel? What skills do you need to use your supplies?
*Mobility--Can you relocate your food supplies quickly if needed? Do you have the equipment or physical assistance needed to help you do this? If you can't move all of your supplies, what portion is your designated evacuation supply? Where is it kept? Where will you move your supplies to?
*Safety Net--Do you have any extra supplies for unexpected losses or needs? What safety margin have you given yourself to counter any errors in food storage planning? Do you have the knowledge, skills and equipment needed to add to or replace your food supplies?
Once you have considered these factors, you need to look at your base calorie requirements.
What is your base calorie requirements?
It is simply this: You need to eat a certain amount of food, containing a certain amount of calories-- based on the type of weather you will be exposed to and the amount of exertion you will be performing. This is something the military knows very well for feeding its troops in the field--and it works very well for you in planning for your emergency food supplies.
I recommend the following guide, which comes from NOLS to give you a good idea of how much poundage and calories you need to aim at for each person per day. Personally, I really recommend planning for the absolute maximum possible need you might have--rather than risk planning too little. Think of Murphy's Law and go for a planning counter!
*1.5 lbs, 2,500-3,000 calories for leisure days with hot days/warm nights
*1.75-2 lbs, 3,000-3,500 calories for moderate to active days with warm or cool days/nights
*2-2.25 lbs, 3,500-4,500 calories for heavy work days with cool days/cold nights
*2.5 lbs, 4,000-5,000 + calories for extremely strenuous work days with cold days/extremely cold nights
So now that you know your needs, sit down and plan out your food supplies. Take your time and do your research--consider the above factors and your base calorie requirements in this planning.
Remember that you are planning to take care of yourself and your people in emergencies--so plan well!
Each of the Layers of Personal Emergency Preparedness is aimed at helping you increase your independence and self-reliance. As you add layer upon layer to yourself and your loved ones, you are increasing your skills, abilities, and supplies--and increasing your opportunities for succeeding in emergencies. Taken together, as a whole, your layers help you deal with short term and long duration trouble. We have talked about the layers that will help take you through two weeks of difficulty in previous posts. Now we're ready to talk about the last layer in the set, the one specifically designed for extended emergencies and their long aftermaths--the Home Storage Supply. Because this is the most comprehensive and far reaching layer, know that it will also be the one that takes the most preparation and planning of them all.
So let's start now.
What is the Home Storage Supply?
The Home Storage Supply is simply this: everything you need to be self-sufficient for an absolute minimum of one year. And that includes you, anyone living with you (human or otherwise), and your home and property.
While this seems like a really daunting layer--and it can be if you go at it without any proper planning!--you will find that if you pay attention to your focus categories, that it really isn't as scary as it seems. The simple key is persistence.
Like they say, eat an elephant one bite at a time.
Now, if you've been building your layers as we've gone through them, you already now have increased your self-reliance to two weeks. What we are going to do now is just keep on building.
So how do I start?
First, begin by going through the following categories and meeting your complete needs now for one month. Then another month, and then another, and so on. If your personal finances are tight, then bite off a smaller piece--and go for one more week or two. What matters is that you keep adding. Why do we do it this way, instead of getting everything in one category before moving to the next? Because we aim to be self-sufficient as we go rather than wait until the end! After all, we never know when an emergency will happen.
So here we go!
The categories that you need to keep focused on are:
*Warmth, Light and Clothing *Food and Water *Shelter Needs *Medical and Hygiene *Communication *Tools and Weapons *Comfort and Entertainment *Library and Documentation *Currency Needs
*Cottage Industry and Barter
Let's talk a bit about each of these categories--again, keep in mind that you must consider yourself, those with you (human and other), and your home and property when you think about each one.
Warmth, Light and Clothing
It is very important that you compensate for possible periods of extended loss of electrical power. You might be lucky and keep it the whole time, but there's no guarantee! Do your research and know exactly how long each one of your choices last--otherwise you'll fall short. Cold or rainy climates need to pay really close attention to this category to help guard you and yours from suffering from cold related medical trouble. You will also find that children, elderly and animals need special considerations in this category, so tailor your plans to you!
Warmth: You must be able to stay warm--this means your home and anything living in it! Some ways you could plan for this could include: installing non-electric powered wood burning stoves (not pellet ones!), increasing the insulation of your home, getting generators, having proper clothing layers of correct materials, storing quality wool or down blankets and cold temperature sleeping bags, etc. Don't forget that you must also cover all the maintenance needs and fuels for these things as well! Plan for keeping your animals warm--fur is often not enough!
Light: You will need light outside of daylight--this is more than just psychological, it for work assistance and security! This could mean installing solar panels or one of the other alterative ways to draw your own power off grid. But this also means actual supplies of stuff that gives you light. Some things to consider are: lanterns, oil or kerosene lamps, candles, flashlights, area lights, high powered lightsticks, etc. Again, you must also include all parts, fuels and maintenance needs for each of the items you choose. Remember that you have choices in how these things operate--there is solar power, hand power, fuel or battery operated, etc. Research!
Clothing: You must have a supply of sturdy and climate appropriate clothing for each person in your plan--suitable for hard work and able to be repaired by hand. Learn how to layer clothing correctly, what types are most effective, how to launder them by hand, and how to repair or make more of them. Don't forget to include the supplies which will let you do your own repairs or make replacements--which also means, that you must learn how to do this stuff! Don't forget your animals in this area--dogs and horses are just some which often need coats or blankets to help protect them from severe cold or penetrating chill.
Food and Water
It is important in this category that you remember that you may not be able to resupply yourself and your animals from the store--or receive one of those oh-so-convienant government supply drops like you see in tv shows like Jericho. You will need to plan for your own food production or acquisition, food processing and proper storage, cooking, cleaning up, and disposing of garbage. Just as you need to plan on locating and hauling water, purifying and storing it to replenish your supplies. And don't plan on having electrical or fuel powered assists to do this stuff! You will need some serious skills in this area and lot of practice. Be extremely detailed oriented in your supplies to do this stuff--and think of the need to reuse and keep going over a long period of time.
Food: You will need to plan for approximately 600-800 lbs of food per person per year. This gives you 'wiggle room'--the ability to safely counter: greatly increased physical activity, exposure to the environment, illness, high stress, theft or partial confiscation, spoilage or infestation, cooking failures, sharing, trading, new additions to your family, etc. Choose foods that require no refrigeration, ones that you actually like eating, those that provide good nutriention, and ones you know how to use in cooking. Store them properly and never all in one place (it's the whole eggs in one basket saying!). Balance your food supply by including: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and milk products, meat and meat alternatives, oils, leavenings, sugar or sugar alternatives, seasonings and flavorings, and treats. Plan for more than you need. Always.
Water: You must have at least one gallon of drinking water per person per day--more if your area suffers from high or extended heat. Remember--any other beverages are in addition to that, not in place of. Nope, sorry, soda pop is not a water substitute! Remember, you also need to store water for your cooking needs, bathing and sanitation requirements, doing your laundry and for the general cleaning requirements of your home--at least one gallon per person per day in this area, too. You also need water purification means, water transportation assists, and the long-term storage containers to store your water supplies. Because you will need to purify the water you gather, it is a good idea to add drink mixes to your storage to help with taste. If you can, install water gathering assists ahead of time--filtered gutters that run to rain barrels, cysterns, wells (with manual pumps in addition to electrical ones), etc.
Your home takes on special importance in emergencies--it becomes more than just a living space, it becomes a necessary place of comfort and security in the middle of chaos and danger. Anything you can do now to improve your home and make it more secure and disaster resistant is a really good idea! Remember that you may not have electricity to keep your home comfortable or safe in emergencies--so plan your manual alternatives and get them installed. Make your home and property as clean, well maintained and secure as you can now, it will only help you later. So don't put off any work that needs to be done to it--it is supposed to be your sancurary in emergencies, so make it one now!
Maintenance, Cleaning and Repair: You will need the knowledge, skills, tools and supplies to keep your home as functional as possible for as long as possible--this means you will need to provide any maintenance it needs, keep it as hygenic as you can, and repair any damages an emergency or its aftermath causes.
Protection: You need to keep your home secure at all times--from emergencies themselves and from any criminal intent. Remember that you might not have electricity to help you do this. Get professional advice! FEMA and the Red Cross have information on how you can help protect your home from (or reduce the damaged done in) emergencies. Law enforcement and security personnel can help you plan your protection from the people danger side of emergencies. Don't take risks or chances with your home's security--you are going to rely even more on it in times of trouble than you do now!
Medical and Hygiene
In emergencies, especially extended ones, medical and hygiene supplies become extremely hard to locate--and personnel skilled in them, are stretched very thin. What you install and supply in your home now, will give you serious advantage later. Take professional training and plan carefully! Don't forget to make special plans for any medical conditions or age specific needs in your home. And don't forget your animals!
Medical: Store all necessary medical supplies for multi-person, long duration needs. This includes medical assists (with non-electric backups), first aid supplies, extended need medical supplies, prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, etc. Keep modern and detailed first aid and advanced response books on hand--and take the training for them. Consider alternative medicines and take professional training in them. Remember that injuries in emergencies are common. Focus on tending: burns, lacerations, breaks, punctures, fall related or debris falling related injuries, shock, extended illness, etc. If you can, have a designated 'sickbay'--at least, have some section of your home set aside for medical supplies which you can easily get to quickly.
Hygiene: Emergencies make hygiene a serious concern--and will require you to make a special effort to guard yourself. Because you may not have power, you might not have running water or flushing toilets. Plan for your alternatives. You will need to have an emergency toilet and know what to do properly with waste matter. You must have the ability to bathe and wash your hands, tend to garbage requirements, do your own laundry manually, clean your cooking and eating impliments, and keep your home sanitary. Females have to plan for their menstral cycle. Mothers must plan for diapering and toilet needs of small children. The elderly need to have their own hygiene concerns taken care of. And you will need to be able to take care of any sick people's needs. There is a lot of training available for you in these areas--take advantage of it now! Try and put into your supply both disposable and non-disposable alternatives.
The ability to keep in contact with family members on your own property or about the city, receive information from emergency personnel and get updated news is essential in emergencies--especially in extended ones with their prolonged recoveries. Because you may not have power, any communications equipment you choose needs to run on solar, battery, fuel, manual power, etc. You may be able to use your phone or computer--but you may not. Overburdened communication systems, destroyed towers or lines, inability to recharge batteries, etc., all may render your phone or computer useless. So do some research and choose quality equipment to take their place in emergencies. Choose your equipment to fit the two needs your phone or computer would normally cover: local and long distance. You will need some form of "walkie talkies"--letting you keep in contact with your family as you move about your local area. Get something with at least one mile reach, preferrably five or more if possible. You will also need radios to receive outside information. If you can, get a Ham radio and become full trained in its use--this will let you receive information and send it, allowing you to be of great assistance to your area in emergencies. Do not forget to include the simple communication means in your supplies--like whistles, air-propelled horns, signal flares, etc.
Tools and Weapons
Simply put, you need tools and weapons. Especially when you are quite possibly on your own for an indeterminate length of time in a potentially damaged area.
Tools: This area includes all the items you might need to help take care of yourself, your people and animals, and your home and property. This means all maintenance, repairs, food procurement (hunting, fishing, trapping, planting, etc.) and processing, daily labor, etc. needs. And it includes all the items needed to take care of and use those tools as well! It is important that you take the time to receive proper training and practice your skill use of all of these things. Again, don't rely on electric powered items--and be sure and store any batteries, fuels, and parts needed to go with this stuff.
Weapons: This is an area that many people neglect to plan for in extended emergencies. It is a dangerous mistake to rely on law enforcement or military personnel to protect you--disasters spread them impossibly thin to provide constant coverage to everyone, and without power, your means to quickly call for help and receive it swiftly is also often gone. You will need to provide for your own and others' protection--and be able to protect your home and supplies. Disasters bring out the best and the worst of people--be prepared to defend the best from the worst. Know that this requires some serious professional training. Get that training now. Remember that you will need weapons for both short range and long range needs--as well as any additional tools or supplies to maintain and keep them operational.
Comfort and Entertainment
Easing hardship in prolonged emergencies and their aftermaths is essential--this is more than just 'blowing off steam', it is boosting morale and helping to keep a positive psychological outlook in times of high octane stress and severe trauma. This means building into your supply ways to play and treats to eat or drink. This also means planning for holidays and birthdays, whether there are children present or not. Again, do not rely on electric powered things. Consider: boardgames, puzzles, cards, dice, solar or manual powered radios, musical instruments, books, toys, etc. Remember to include religious items--books, hymnals, etc. Have laminated copies of your favorite and most meaningful family photos. Be sure and take training specifically on how to help yourself and others deal positively with emergencies, hardship and trauma.
Library and Documentation
You need all the information you can possibly get a hold of--specifically that which teaches you how to do all the little things you might need to know how to do. This could be anything from how to repair your home to how to procure food to how to build a composting toilet to how to sew your own clothing. You will also need to be your own source of your own documentation needs--this might be for insurance purposes, government assistance or rebuilding your life after a disaster.
Library: Build up your personal library before an emergency--while there is time and ability to locate any needed information. Stay current and use professional and reliable sources. Think of all these categories--the needs they represent--and write out your list of possibly needed skills, training and resources. I strongly recommend you use FEMA, Red Cross, and the Hoodlum Adventure Team (located in my Cool Sites to Check Out section) to help you figure out what you need to know and where to get the information.
Documentation: Gather all personal vital documentation--get any certified copies you need to replace lost items--and store it in a secure and hidden location. Be able to take this information with you if you must leave the home, so store it in a portable and waterproof container. You will need to have: personal identification, passports, insurance polices, proof of ownerships, marriage certificates, medical records, prescription orders, immunization records, education records and licenses, social security cards, bank and credit card accounts, etc.--as well as contact information for any of these things. Do not forget to have family and friend contact lists, family and pet identification pictures, etc. It is a good idea to have a backup of these things--certified copies--in a bank deposit box, in the event that your home is lost.
While it is true that there are times in extended emergencies and their aftermaths when money has no value and supplies become 'currency', there are also times when money is perfectly useful. Without power, accessing bank and credit card accounts is difficult at best and impossible at worst. Checks are rarely if ever accepted. ATMs still operating are quickly emptied. So you will need to have cash or cash substitutes (such as gold or silver) on hand to pay bills and purchase needs. Again, you must keep these things in a secure and hidden location--preferrably in more than one secure and hidden location! How much you store is up to you and your estimated need possiblities--but at least one month's bills on hand is a very good idea.
Cottage Industry and Barter
Severe disasters may mean a loss of your 'regular' income for an unforeseeable future length. But you will still need to pay bills and purchase necessities. It is wise to provide other means of income for yourself and your family.
Cottage Industry: Learn a trade, craft, or skill which can bring you income even after a disaster. Get any professional training and tools you need to do this. Become proficient and successful in it. There are ton of resources out there--think of any talents or skills you already possess and consider areas in your strongest abilities. In good times, use this as a source of additional income.
Trade Supplies: As seen in previous disasters, any needed item becomes 'currency'. Learn how to barter and trade--and have items already stored to let you do this. Think of things that are needed in emergencies, when supplies become limited and precious--remember that small things are easier to use, like 'small bills'. Consider things like hygiene supplies, clothing repair items, assistance goods (like duct tape), etc.
Now you have the basic startup for the Home Storage Supply!
By building this final layer of your personal emergency preparedness, you are giving yourself extended duration assistance--and vastly increasing your independance and self-reliance! True, this layer is going to take a lot of work--and lot of planning, learning, and supply gathering. Don't let this deter you. Just take it 'a bite at a time'--and be consistant! Steady continual work will get you there.
*Those that require us to deal with them away from the home
*Those that require us to face them at or from home
Some emergencies will fall into one category and stay there. Some, however, will start in one and move to the other (and even bounce back again, depending on the nature of the event!).
Our need to be able to take on emergencies from any location, is why we've been learning about and building the layers of emergency preparedness. The EDC, Personal Emergency Kit (or Go Bag), Car Kit and Work/School Kits, are all specifically built for the times when you must deal with an emergency away from home. The Stay In Kit and the Home Storage Supply, however, are specifically built for those emergencies which must be faced at or from home.
Your layers help give you the ability to adapt yourself successfully to your needs--which is why you must plan them carefully and gain the skills you need to use them to your maximum advantage!
We've talked about the layers that cover the first category--our EDC, Personal Emergency Kit, Car Kit, Work and School Kits. Now, we are going to begin talking about the layers that take on the second--the Stay In Kit and the Home Storage Supply.
This post is for learning about and beginning to build the layer called the Stay In Kit.
The Stay In Kit needs to be able to take care of all your basic needs for at least two weeks from your home without any outside resupplying--any length of time more than that, and you will be moving into your last layer, the Home Storage Supply.
FEMA is an excellent source for beginning your research into what is needed for building this layer, as is the Red Cross. I recommend The Hoodlum Adventure Team referred to in my Cool Sites section for in depth information and assistance.
As you plan the Stay In Kit, once again go through the six areas we've talked about before--you are planning against a number of possible emergencies, so take the time to really think it through. You will want to consider the following categories:
*Food and Water *Light, Heat, and Cooking *Sanitation *Medical *Repair and Maintenance *Protection *Communication *Entertainment and Comfort
As you consider these categories, remember that you are planning for a two week use need. And don't forget--you are planning for the self-reliance of you, your home, and anyone else (human and other) who might possibly be with you for that duration! Because you don't know if you will have electricity for the entire duration, everything you plan must be taken into consideration from a non-electrical angle. Just as you don't know if you will be allowed or able to leave your property at all. So keep this stuff carefully in mind.
So let's begin.
You need to have a two week supply of food and water--one that doesn't require electricity to let you eat or drink it. This means ready-to-eat foods (edibles that require NO cooking or heating up) and bottled water (as the piped water system of your home or your electrically operating well may not working--or even contaminated). Remember this is a two week supply for everyone in your home--including all animals.
You will need to have light and heat sources. This is psychological and necessity based. Battery, fuel operated, solar, chemical triggered, and manual powered are all possibilities. A means to heat up your food and water is not necessary but may be comforting or even helpful (especially when it is cold!). Remember that everything must be non-electric powered and safe to operate in your home. Don't forget the supplies that go along with your sources, like: candles, batteries, fuel, quality blankets and warm clothing--or the stuff needed to maintain or operate your light and heat sources. And definitely don't forget the correct type of fire extinguishers for every room of your home--in case something goes wrong!
Because power may not be on, you really need to watch your sanitation. This means methods to keep yourself clean, to deal with waste matter, do your laundry and tend to garbage. Depending on the emergency; water may not be flowing in pipes or contaminated, toilets my not be operational and garbage services may be disrupted. Using disposable dishes and utensils, stashing garbage bags, having a portable toilet with supplies, storing bleach and other sanitizing agents, getting a manual washing machine with laundry supplies and knowing how to give yourself a proper 'sponge' bath, are all some of the ways you can help tend your sanitation. Remember that females, children, elderly and animals will require extra assists in this area.
Other than life-threatening requirements, all of your medical needs should be able to be taken care of at home. Keep at least a two week supply of all vital prescriptions or required items. If there are non-electric or non-battery supports for any necessary medical devices, get them as backups (like manual wheelchairs)--talk to your medical support team now and see what is available to assist any needs in your home in complete power outs. Have solar powered or manual chargers for essential batteries. Store a quality, extended use, multi-person medical kit. Be fully trained in basic and advanced first aid. Remember that some emergencies involve serious illness--know how to properly tend sick people and keep supplies which will ease or increase their speed of healing. Sometimes you will have to restrict access to your home in order to prevent contacting illness--be responsible and practice this quarantine completely, knowing that failure to do so may be fatal.
In an extended emergency, you may need to perform makeshift or immediate repairs of your home or any items in it. You also will need to maintain everything. Get any training you can to assist you in this area. Store basic tool and supply needs (hammer and nails, tarps/plastic sheeting, duct tape, epoxy, gas shutoff tool, plywood sheets, hard hats and other protective gear, etc.)--quality home supply places can assist you in creating your home's basic tool and supply needs. Remember, that this area can be greatly helped by your effort NOW. Do any repairs you need on your home or property immediately. Update insulation, secure piping, make reinforcements, and do other emergency pre-assists. FEMA offers assistance in planning how to make your home more emergency resistant. All this is part of your Stay In Kit. Think of it like taking care of your kit's really large duffle carrier, essential.
Your protection in an extended emergency should be taken seriously. Law enforcement officers and military personnel may be stretched very, very thin. Without power, security systems both personal and local are down. Damage may interfere in even access by personnel. Even if your cell phone is operational, the system may be overloaded. Plan to be your own protection. You should do most of this NOW, while the supplies and professional installations are available. This means putting in secure fencing, chaining and locking all gates, using window and door blocks, installing security doors and frames with proper locks, removing 'blind spots' or other danger spots about your home where criminals could hide or move undetected, etc. Talking to law enforcement or home security personnel can give you excellent help. During an emergency, be able to immediately install complete blackout protection (to avoid unwanted attention), have the ability to board over all windows and secondary doors, and reinforce your main entrance. Be able to secure your vehicles and all out buildings. Take defensive training and be extremely competent with firearms and other weapons. Plan how you will defend your home. There are professional personnel who can teach you this. Remember that a large part of protecting yourself is in reducing your risks--don't open doors, don't open windows or use window blocks if you have to, use a quiet generator or sound proof where it is located, don't tell others about any supplies you have built up, keep your gates locked, stay armed, etc. Criminals become bolder, more violent and hunt in larger groups in extended emergencies--and any supplies you have, the bad guys will want for themselves.
Now, you may have no power in extended emergencies but you still need to receive emergency information and know what is going on. Get at least two quality emergency radios--only one of which can be battery operated, the second should be a solar or manual powered one. Store extra batteries. If you can, become a HAM operator and have your own generator powered set up--this will let you receive and sent information, becoming an assist to emergency personnel in your area.
Because you may be staying inside your home or confined to your property for the entire two weeks without power, do not neglect your entertainment and comfort category! Emergencies are highly stressful, especially ones that extend over more than one week. Our society is a highly 'plugged in' one, but while you might have access to power, never count on it. Murphy's Law remains in effect!So plan to entertain yourself in non-electric ways. Books, games, hobbies/crafts, exercise equipment, etc., are all options. Remember to include snacks and other comfort items! Have easy access to meaningful items, to give yourself extra emotional support. Take the time daily for prayer, meditation, and other 'quiet' moments--you need to stay calm and stay focused, even when everything else gets a bit crazy.
And that is the basic setup of the Stay In Kit.
Of course, the Stay In Kit is an extensive kit--some of it is 'built in' and some of it is in actual supplies. Because of its intended duration of coverage, and the skills it requires of you, it is going to take serious thought and research on your part for this kit to be of the best help to you. Don't let the 'size' of this kit make you nervous, take it by category and work your way through it. You'll change things as you gain skills and knowledge, but everything you do to help increase your success in an extended emergency is good. Think of everyone (human and other) who could possibly be with you in an emergency--with all of their needs, as well as your own--and plan your kit around this. Get professional assistance, information and training. Start gathering your supplies and keep them in a secure but easy to access place.
Remember, that building this kit will take some time--so start now and keep at it.
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