Monday, March 19, 2012

Why You May Never Decide to Prepare for an Emergency

When I began blogging here, I knew before I began that even if people read my posts and heard how it easy it is to prepare by making a plan and taking action, most would never do it. It's a fact I understood long ago when I first starting seeing more and more FEMA commercials. I would strike up a conversation with family members or friends and ask them if they had made any emergency preparations and every single one answered, "No." I struggled with a way to try and convince them but knew that like everything else, once people get set in their ways it's hard to convince them otherwise.

Maybe you're the same way. Maybe you're reading this post and thinking to yourself why should I bother preparing? Nothing is ever going to happen to me. Or maybe for you it feels more like a tug-o-war, should I or shouldn't I? I understand why you would feel that way. I felt the same way years ago, that is until my husband was laid off, until a blizzard trapped us with little food and no heat, until our basement flooded, until we had to file bankruptcy to save our home. We have all thought that nothing is going to happen to us UNTIL it actually does.

But what if I told you that the reason you do not prepare for emergencies is because your mind, your brain, won't let you?  Did you know that your brain actually has a propensity for forgetting the negative and only remembering the positive? So even if you live a town prone to tornados or earthquakes, for example, and you know that your chances are good for having one, you may only remember the positive information that your neighborhood has never had one. Remembering only that fact, because that's all your brain decides to remember gives you a false sense of security that it could never happen to you even though it could.

So when you begin considering whether you should become a prepper, or at the very least make an emergency plan and a 72 hour kit, remember your brain will want to talk you out of it. Your brain doesn't want to think about the possibility that something bad could happen, so don't listen to it. Making yourself override your positive outlook just long enough to make preparations for an emergency might save your life, or help you get by until help does arrive.

Finally, when the government tells us to prepare, we really should listen and not push out the idea that a disaster may or may not happen. Why? Because the government warns us for a reason. Everyday emergency agencies all across the country are battling to keep funding for emergency preparedness and every day they lose a little more. The "Ready or Not" report stated in November that our nation is facing tough challenges to keep us ready. You see if we do not do more to help ourselves, we risk relying on services and help that will likely be nonexistent, even if our brains want us to think otherwise. Here are their "key findings," to read the entire report go here.
  • Fifty-one cities—located in 40 states—are at-risk for elimination of Cities Readiness Initiative funds, which support the ability to rapidly distribute and administer vaccinations and medications during emergencies.
  • All 10 state labs with “Level 1” chemical threat testing status are at-risk for losing top level capabilities, which could leave the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) with the only public health lab in the country with full chemical testing capabilities.
  • Twenty-four states are at-risk of losing expert epidemiology support, which has supplemented state and local gaps in the past.
  • All academic preparedness research and training academic centers are at-risk for elimination.
  • Potential cuts to the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) mean the ability for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to mount a comprehensive response to nuclear detonation, radiological attacks, chemical attacks and natural disasters is at-risk.
  • Forty states and Washington, D.C. cut their state public health budgets—29 states cut their budgets for a second year in a row, 15 for three years in a row.
  • Forty-one states had cuts in state and local preparedness support through the Public Health Emergency and Preparedness (PHEP) grants from FY 2010 to FY 2011.
  • All 50 states and Washington, D.C. had cuts in the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) from FY 2010 to FY 2011.
Need more information? Read and listen to more on why we don't prepare at the following links:
Living In The Century of Disasters
Your Brain Won't Let You to Believe...
Why We Don't Prepare for Disaster

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Understanding Distribution Could Save Your Life

If you are new to emergency preparedness planning for yourself or for your family, you may find it hard to understand why our government instructs us to have an emergency supply of no less than three days of food. They have a good reason. It all comes down to distribution. We recently had a record breaking snowstorm in Colorado, and what was the first thing the news began to report on? Grocery store food shortages and fear buying.

You might have also been intrigued with last night's episode of "Doomsday Preppers" which showcased an American trucker who mentioned how critical the trucking industry would be if a disaster would strike. Unfortunately, National Geographic missed the opportunity to really explain what would happen if our country suffered a breakdown in the distribution of goods.

In America, the majority of distribution across our country is done by the trucking industry. In fact, the American Trucking Associations states that nearly 70% of all commodities, including food, are moved by the commercial truck trade. So what does that mean to you and me if there's an emergency in our county or even in our country? It could mean the difference between life and death if commercial trucks have no access to distribute food and supplies to local businesses.

Think about it. If you and I can't access roads, neither can truckers. If they cannot get into your community, your local stores won't be able to restock their shelves. So if you do not prepare ahead of time by having emergency food and supplies on hand now before an emergency, you will definitely put yourself or your family members in danger of going without water, food or even help for medical needs.

Maybe you think a disaster would never hit your neighborhood. Maybe you think you have enough food and water on hand right now to get by for three days. Maybe you think if something bad did happen your neighbors or family would help you. That's a lot of maybe's to count on. Even the American Trucking Associations, not just FEMA, says don't count on maybe, but instead expect that there will be shortages in the time of a crisis and that if there was a terrorist attack or pandemic the government's restriction of trucker's movement could worsen an already dire situation. In my opinion, three days is a good start, but even that might not be enough.

Need a reason to begin preparing for an emergency? Don't just take my word for it, or FEMA's word for it, listen to the truckers who deliver the supplies that our entire country uses every day. Below are some of the main points the American Truckers Associations say you should expect to happen in the event of an emergency. Then read more, go here for the entire detailing of "When Trucks Stop, America Stops."

Their report states, "The American Trucking Associations researched seven key consumer industries to quantify the potential consequences of restricting or halting truck traffic in response to a national or regional emergency." Here's what their tells us to expect:
  • Significant shortages will occur in as little as three days, especially for perishable
    items following a national emergency and a ban on truck traffic. Minor
    shortages will occur within one to two days.
  • Consumer fear and panic will exacerbate shortages.
  • Consumer behavior during emergencies triples the rate of inventory turn-over.
  • Supplies of clean drinking water will run dry in two to four weeks.
  • Without truck transportation, patient care within the truck stoppage zone will be
    immediately jeopardized.
  • Hospitals and nursing homes will exhaust food supplies in as little as 24 hours.
  • Pharmacy stocks of prescription drugs will be depleted quickly.
  • Hospitals and other diagnostic and treatment facilities will exhaust supplies of
    radiopharmaceuticals and oxygen.
  • Service station fuel supplies will start to run out in just one to two days.
  • Within days of a truck stoppage, Americans will be literally buried in
    garbage with serious health and environmental consequences.
  • Uncollected and deteriorating waste products create rich breeding grounds
    for microorganisms, insects, and other vermin. Hazardous materials and
    medical waste will introduce toxins as well as infectious diseases into living
  • Just-in-time manufacturers will shut down assembly lines within hours.
  • ATM and branch bank cash resources will be exhausted quickly.
  • Regular bank functions will cease.
Their detailing of what to expect is a wake up call for all of us, but it shouldn't make us panic. That's why we need to be ready now. We cannot wait until the storm is at our back door for us to run to the store. So don't fear the worst, just prepare for the worst so you are ready now for any emergency.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cost Nothing New Year Preparedness Ideas

Are all of you as stunned as I am that 2012 is already here and that January is nearly gone? I keep thinking that the older I get the faster the days go by, but I hope that isn't true because I have so many things to get done this year and I don't need time to zip by any faster!

The first few weeks of 2012 have been pretty busy around here. We have already started shopping for seed deals for spring plantings, and we have been doing some rearranging and recommissioning of furniture from other rooms to create more storage space for our food storage and supplies room. The addition of more shelving is something we have truly needed and we're committed not to spend a dime to get accomplished what we need to do.

Like everyone else we're broke and need every penny to get by for our bills and day to day needs and groceries. There are no expendable dollars around here to be used for elaborate shelving units. So whenever we're in a pinch like this we stand back and look around the entire house and the garage and ask ourselves what do we already have that could be repurposed into what we need, and 9 times out 10 we find a solution. This time it was a basement shelving unit whose items could easily fit on a garage shelf. Now we've freed up a whole new shelving unit (actually a really nice Rubbermaid four shelf unit we bought a decade a go that will hold a lot of weight) and we are ready to move it into our storage room this weekend.

I know so many people that want to get working on emergency preparedness but they say time and time again that they just can't afford it. I want to reassure anyone out there who thinks that they can't, that really they can do it. What you really can't afford is seeing your family suffer in a time of crisis. So stay positive and start prepping! Chances are many of the things you need to begin with are already in your house right now and it won't cost you a thing to start! Do you need some ideas on where to begin? Here's a list of things we've done in the past and still do, including our storage shelf repurpose that we are working on this weekend, and they are all things you can do right now, that cost nothing (but a little time) to get you more prepared in 2012. 

  • Store your own water instead of buying it. Two liter pop bottles are what most people prefer to use when storing their own water and it’s what FEMA and the EPA and others recommend, but you don’t have to go out and buy pop just to have bottles to store water. Use whatever kind of bottles you have on hand such as plastic juice bottles, tea bottles, milk bottles even, but the key to using these bottles is IMMACULATE washing and disinfecting (with bleach water) and that the bottle you’re using is food safe! You could even use glass bottles but be sure they are stored in a safe place where they won't get broken. Then once the water is stored be sure to rotate and replace water bottles every 6 months to a year. Any water used after a year in storage should be treated or boiled.

  • Clean out your food cabinets now and see what you have. Take inventory and start making a list of what you have and what you want to store. If you have any dried goods such as flour or rice that are nearing their expiration date but you don’t have money to replace them, put them in the freezer to extend their shelf life for months beyond their expiration date. However, do not freeze flour in only its original paper, always wrap it with plastic or place in freezer bags or seal it in a Foodsaver bag before freezing.

  • Need storage space, don’t buy a shed or remodel, just declutter! Clean up your closets, spare bedroom, basement or attic. It’s time to clear out what you know you don’t need anymore and make room for your emergency preparedness items. When you’re finished, trust me, you will have the biggest weight lifted from your shoulders knowing you got rid of things you never used and you might find emergency preparedness or survival gear you’d forgotten you had which will save you from making an unneeded purchase.

  • Don’t buy shelves unless absolutely necessary! We know numerous people who have spent hundreds of dollars on the shelving they use for food storage and we say don’t do it! Why? That’s money you can put into your supplies of foods, batteries, first aid or emergency radios instead spending the money on shelving.  Use of what you have! It doesn't have to be perfect, just functional. Any unused furniture could be used for storage such as two desks stacked to make shelves or an old set of dresser drawers, filing cabinets or a bookcase. If you have no extra furniture then make some yourself from found objects like shelves from free shipping crates often found outside manufacturing buildings, or use plastic milk crates stacked on top of each other. Even old wooden doors with cement blocks stacked between them can make a set of shelves.  

  • Don’t go out and buy new backpacks for your get out of dodge (BOB) bag. If the time comes and you have to bug out or evacuate the only thing you really need is something durable and portable. If you’re kids are older but you still have an old diaper bag in the back of your closet use it or an over sized purse or duffel bag. If you’re husband plays hockey, use his old gear bag. I saw a great suggestion on You Tube recently where a prepper suggested a portable shopping cart with wheels that you often see people pulling behind them down city the streets, as it would be perfect if you're not strong enough to carry a bag. Even a plastic storage container or suitcase will work in a pinch as long as you can easily carry it.

  • One of the best things you can do for free is get to your local library and get reading. Find first aid or boy scout manuals, books on foraging for food in the wild, you can even find some great survival and food storage books, as well as books on hunting, coping with stress and camping cookbooks. Remember knowledge is power and the more you know the more you’ll be able to cope emotionally during an emergency situation.

  • Finally, don’t get obsessed or afraid, just get informed. Know what’s going on in your community and around the world. Keep up with current events so you know when certain food prices are on the rise because of bad crops or that gas is on the rise so you can fill up now instead of next week. Stay aware and know when bad weather may be headed your way. The key is not to get caught off guard and to be ready in case of any emergency by starting now, not waiting until the emergency is at your door step.
Remember, do what you can, when you can do it, and just keep prepping!