Our Emergency Preparedness Philosophy

In THIS post, I talk about how I am passionate about many things including emergency and disaster preparedness. Before you put your judge-y pants on, know that I am not sitting here with a tin foil hat, ammo stacked to the ceiling, testing out the functionality of my radiation suit. Not yet at least.

I don’t necessarily feel the need to defend or justify the reasons my family and I choose preparedness as a facet of our lifestyle, but I do feel the need to do it as a way to educate others. My family, especially my younger brother, mocked us to the point of being a little cruel. I would just play it off as a joke and say something like, “Well, when $hit hits the fan, you’ll wish that you were in my little club.” It’s similar to the frugal journey we are on, friends and family that aren’t on the same journey simply don’t understand. Maybe they don’t even care to try to understand.

I think one of the reasons that we got so much negative feedback about disaster preparedness is due to the way “prepping” has been sensationalized in the media. I’m sure you’ve seen an episode or two of Doomsday Preppers. Much like extreme couponers, a very small percentage of the prepping community is actually like how it is portrayed.  Those “extreme” preppers are focused on world-ending events like nuclear warfare or an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). While those are possibilities, especially in the unstable world we have the pleasure of living in, I’m more focused on what can and will happen in my region.

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If a blizzard were to strike tonight knocking out your power, would you be able to feed your family for up to 2 weeks? Would you have enough fresh water to keep them hydrated and clean? How would you do laundry? Where would you go to the bathroom? How would you keep warm? Blankets are definitely not enough. Do you have a means of keeping your house lit and your family entertained? 

What if something were to occur making it unsafe for you to stay in your home? Recently, families in northern California were given no notice whatsoever that they needed to evacuate their homes due to the Oroville Dam catastrophe. Could you grab everything you needed in a matter of minutes and get out the door to safety? Would you be able to immediately locate all of your important documents? Prescription medications? How about food, water, and clothing? Do you have somewhere to go? Do you have phone numbers and addresses written down?  Is there enough gas in your car to get you to safety? Do you have cash on hand in case the ATMs aren’t working? 

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Someone posed these same questions to me a few years ago and my initial reaction was overwhelming and paralyzing panic. I am a parent. I am responsible for keeping Little Daisy safe, healthy, fed, warm, and hydrated. I was ready to build my bunker, eat MREs, and proudly put on my tin foil hat. After the initial shock and realization wore off, Mr. Daisy and I began expanding our lifestyle to include preparedness.

Our philosophy on preparedness incorporates more than stocking up on all of the items we may need to survive. To us, it’s not just about having a bunch of stuff. Our attitude is equal parts preparedness and self-sufficiency. We don’t want to rely on anyone but ourselves to provide for our family. If there was a disaster in my area, I do not want to be herded into the local high school’s gym, with hundreds (maybe thousands) of people, without my pets, and sleep on a cot. And let’s not even talk about the illnesses that will quickly spread in those tight quarters, most likely causing a mini pandemic. No, thank you. I don’t want the government to have to take care of me. Heck, the government doesn’t even want to take care of me. Check out FEMA’s website. They want to educate you so that you can take care of yourself and others in your community.

So, what is the relationship between frugality and emergency preparedness? In our life they hold hands quite nicely. Living frugally allows us to allocate money towards our preparedness and self-sufficiency goals. If money is short at any given time, we have reserves of food and water to survive (over one year’s worth of food).  Activities like gardening, composting, recycling, farming, reading, living on less, and needing less fall into both categories.

Preparedness is 100%, absolutely a lifestyle choice. Lifestyle choices are not universal and made for everyone. Much like a city, suburban, or beach lifestyle is the preferred for others…not so much for us. But I can appreciate it, because I don’t wear judge-y pants 🙂

Tell me, do you do any type of large or small scale emergency planning? If not, why not? 

 

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. Nathalie | 14th Mar 17

    I think you make a great point that emergency preparedness has nothing to do with tinfoil people. Emergencies can happen to anyone and those who aren’t prepared will suffer the most.

    I might be the lone person who’s never watched (and has no desire to watch) “Doomsday Preppers”, I guess?

    We live in Central Florida so the risk of a blizzard happening is quite low 🙂 However, we do have to worry about hurricane season every year from June 1 through December 1 so usually in April I start stocking up on bottled water, canned goods, toilet paper, cat food and litter, batteries, etc. We already have tarps. A couple of years ago we bought a generator so we could keep some appliances running if we lost power, and Greg does start it once a month to make sure it’s working. I’ll also make sure our spare gas tank are refilled before June 1st and will get cash from the ATM. We have an emergency fund and a catastrophe emergency fund saved up. So we could afford our deductibles if disaster hit and to pay our bills or a while. All our important papers are labeled and kept in the same location. I know they say to keep a copy in a safe deposit box but we don’t have a local bank so we’re not doing that. A major area of concern for us this year will be what would happen to our pets should we have to evacuate. We had 2 cats until recently and figured that it would be manageable to throw the 2 carriers in the cars and find a pet-friendly hotel or campground somewhere out of the danger zone. But now we have 6 cats. That becomes much harder to manage and I don’t have an answer for that apart from: I need more carriers (we have a large one and 2 smaller ones) and thankfully we have 2 large vehicles so yes, we would take them with us. I always like to keep my SUV fully or close to fully gassed up and my daughter is under instruction to refill the tank of the family car whenever it gets to half tank. Greg lets his tank get to almost empty before he refills but with hurricanes we have advance notice and he stops doing that once one is heading for us.

    I have tons of food in my pantry, but not so much out of preparedness, as I hate to see a bare spot in my pantry 🙂

    We also have camping equipment: tents, sleeping bags, camping stove, a small barbecue, 2 extra propane tanks for the BBQ, cots, etc. so we could camp on our own property if needed. We have 2 small lakes just a block apart so I could always use lake water for doing the laundry and the dishes if we ran out of water in our rain barrel. I really want to get a second rain barrel and I may do this this year. Since hurricanes are the most likely threat, I don’t think that the lack of water would be the problem 🙂 Mosquitoes and displaced wildlife most probably would be. I do have several cans of bug spray but I probably could stand to stock up on more and buy some citronella candles.

    What else? I have secured flood insurance for our property for several years now, even though we are NOT in a flood plain. When Katrina hit, many homeowners got screwed by their HOI company who claimed that the damage was due to flooding, not hurricane winds, and refused to cover some or all of the damage, or so I read. For $400 a year, I’d rather have peace of mind that if something hits us and we have damage, we won’t be told “oh, it was due to flooding”. Plus we live on a small hillside, so conceivably if it rained a ton, the water would all flow down through our property. As a matter of fact, Greg build a small berm in our backyard and extended our patio by laying pebbles, etc under our pavers, because when we first moved into our house, every time we got a heavy rain, water would enter the house through the foundation part of the house and seep into the laundry room and the kitchen. We’ve remedied that but a very large hurricane would produce tons of water that our small berm might not be able to divert.

    I do worry about unpredictable emergencies such as tornadoes, which are known to occur here in March/April and during hurricane season, of course. We don’t have basements in Florida. We all know which 2 areas of our house are the (hopefully) “safer” locations in which we would huddle, and I have instructed the kids that, should they hear me scream “get to the safe location”, they are to NOT WORRY ABOUT THE CATS. It sounds mean, and I love my cats to pieces, but it’s more important to me that my kids are safe, than risk not getting to safety in time because they were trying to coax a cat to come out from underneath the couch. We do have a weather radio and I have subscribed to emergency texting alerts from several agencies. However, cell towers will probably be down in a big storm. We got rid of our landline a few years ago so we would be screwed with that. We do have a hand-cranked radio that also works as a flashlight and phone charger. I think this year I’ll buy another one.

    Speaking of the cats, I read last year that if your cat wears an orange collar, it’s a sign for rescuers that the cat is actually an indoor cat that isn’t used to being outside but that escaped, somehow. So I got orange collars from the Dollar Tree for (our then) 3 cats who had never worn a collar. They hated it but got used to it. I put their county and rabies licenses on them. I have collars for the 3 kittens now but they’ve only worn them once, on the day when I took them to the vet’s to be fixed. They completely freaked out! Theirs aren’t orange, I need to find more orange collars. I did get 6 medals engraved with their names and my cell phone number at Walmart (there’s a tag engraving machine, it cost me $5 per tag). Again, the 3 older cats are wearing theirs now, and I’ll put the kittens’ on around June 1st. It will be fun (not!) to hear “ding-a-ling-a-ling) all day as they were much more active than the older cats. I’m noise sensitive so this is going to drive me nuts! But at least if they escape the house during a storm (or any other time), presumably we could recover them if someone found them.

    As far as evacuating, I think the plan would be to grab the cats and whatever kids still live at home or live close-by and drive out of state. Back when my daughter was an infant and my ex was recovering from major abdominal surgery, I had to drive to Chattanooga TN before we could find a room large enough for 3 small children and 2 adults. We had no pets at the time. If it happened again, Greg would refuse to evacuate. He would be the one camping in the house with guns, ready to protect his property. That’s a “romantic” notion to some, I suppose, but in reality, I would be pissed as I’d rather he evacuates too so I don’t have to worry about his safety on top of everything else!

    Another aspect of preparedness for me involves making sure that my passport is up to date and valid for more than 6 months. My parents and siblings are in France so should there be an emergency there, I need to not have to worry about not being able to make it there because my passport has lapsed.

    I think that’s about it. One area of concern I had last year, that will get harder every year, is that when the kids were little (we had 6), we at least only had to worry about cramming all 8 of us into our “safe spots”. It did happen, though, the year when 4 hurricanes hit us in a month. Nowadays, most of the kids are grown and live away from home, so now I have to worry about multiple locations, being able to get a hold of them to make sure they’re safe, etc. I’m a natural worrier so this isn’t helping 🙂 But short of getting all of them to live at home again (the horror!), that’ll never get easier.

    • Mrs. Daisy | 14th Mar 17

      Your comment is longer than my post! But I love it 🙂 I am truly a preparedness nerd, and reading your well thought out plans was enlightening for me. I live in Ohio, so hurricane prep isn’t something that I need to worry about. But extreme weather is become more common all over the world. We have to worry about strong storms, high winds, tornadoes, flooding, and winter weather. One thing that we ALL should worry about are pandemics. Super bugs are bound to develop and become human-carried. There will be little you can do until a vaccine is created, and it will most likely be extremely expensive and hard to get your hands on. I’m currently reading a book om prepping for a pandemic and it’s opened my eyes to SO much. I have fully stocked first aid kits in several places, but I’ve been learning more and more about other forms of treating illnesses, wounds, or symptoms. It’s been enlightening! Thank you for taking the time to make such an awesome comment, I appreciate it so much!

  2. Mrs. Groovy | 15th Mar 17

    I think preparedness is great. Unfortunately, much like what people do about an emergency fund, we put it off. We know we should have one but we don’t. We get lazy. Or we think “how bad, really, could it get?” Just looking at the blizzard warnings this week should be enough to make us seriously consider a strategy.

    I think one of the reasons people judge the doomsday preppers is because most of them have guns. But if you truly believe that the worst can happen it’s smart to have weapons, because others are going to want what you have.

    • Mrs. Daisy | 16th Mar 17

      Right on, Mrs. Groovy. There are so many layers to being self-sufficient/prepared. Mental state and knowledge, security, and that actual “stuff” needed to survive. One of the books I tell all of my non-prepared friends to read is One Second After by William R. Forstchen. It changed mine and my husband’s lives, as cheesy as that sounds. I’m thinking about giving it away on the blog!

  3. Laura | 19th Mar 17

    I went through a phase of wanting to be ready for THE END OF THE WORLD, but then had to step back because I really don’t think it’s great for my mental health to focus so much on the bad things that might happen. And I honestly don’t believe that many people will really be all that prepared for the kinds of horrendous disasters big time preppers like to worry about. BUT. I do live in Florida so hurricane prep is important; Katrina hit the year after I moved down here and it really impacted how I think about hurricane season. One thing I realized was the importance of just being able to get up and go if we really need to. Like Nathalie, we have a lot of pets so that takes a little strategizing. I could be so much more organized in this area in particular, but my husband and I have talked about it and have a basic plan in place. We revisit it each year, too, while watching the weather reports and so on. We also keep water and food on hand in case of a power outage — we lost power for over a day and luckily didn’t lose anything, thanks to a reasonable amount of prep on our part. We don’t have a generator and I think we should, but it’s quite an expense and my husband isn’t quite as sold on that purchase. We do have a charcoal grill and plenty of fuel for alternate cooking options, if we need them.

    Really, I think the biggest reason to prep is not because of the big events but because of the much more personal ups and downs we experience in life. I was able to quit a pretty lucrative job and return to school partly because we’ve been prudent with our finances and live below our means. Keeping a stocked pantry is important to me for that reason. 🙂

    • Mrs. Daisy | 20th Mar 17

      Hi Laura! I agree, I’m not of the mindset that the world is going to end. But in case there was a horrendous, catastrophic event, I feel that it’s my duty as a parent to make sure my child is safe and healthy. I didn’t start on the preparedness journey until I became a mother. For us, it also serves as a way for us to become more self-sufficient and less reliant on consumerism. It was ingrained in me from a young age being raised on a farm. Thank you for your input, I really do love reading others’ thoughts and opinions!

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