Making sure you are prepared for an emergency can seem like a daunting task, especially if you are just starting out or don’t have a lot of time on your hands. Here are five easy steps you can take to make getting prepared easy.
1. Keep your tank at least ¼ full
You never know when you’re going to need to get out of Dodge fast, or if a loved one is going to need some help. Even if your Plan A does not involve driving anywhere, having available transportation under your control can be an invaluable asset not to be overlooked. Also keep in mind that in all likelihood, the majority of people in your area will not have kept a reserve of gas in their tanks which means long lines at the gas pumps. You do not want to be stuck in a gridlock with other agitated people who are anxious to get to their loved ones, and any delay in the execution of your plans creates opportunity for unforeseen problems to arise. Avoid conflict, avoid setbacks, and be able to move at a moment’s notice.
2. Have water on hand
Water may the single most important key to survival. No matter the situation you find yourself in, you will always need access to safe, clean water. Your personal water requirements will vary based on the climate where you live, your age, gender, and level of activity. According to the Institute of Medicine, adult males should aim for 3.7 liters (about 1 gallon), and adult females need 2.7 liters (about ¾ gallons). The average person can survive for three days without water so that is a good amount of time to consider when deciding how much water to store. A good rule of thumb is to have one gallon of water per person, per day, so that would mean for just you, you’d need to have three gallons of water stored up. That may seem like a lot, but it doesn’t mean that you have to carry around three gallons in a backpack as you trek through the wilderness. You can buy a three gallon flat of water bottles to keep in the pantry of your apartment, and as long as you can get home easily, you’ll be set. Of course you’ll still need water in the cases where you are away from home – maybe at work, or stuck in traffic jams trying to get there. I highly recommend carrying a Nalgene with you at all times. They can hold 32oz (1/4 gallon) of water, and fit easily in a backpack or a tote bag. Keep a gallon jug of water in your car, or 2.5 gallon camping style jug, and you can refill your Nalgene as needed for easy drinking. Just remember to refresh your water every once in a while if it is stored in plastic containers, as chemicals from the plastic may seep out over time. One word of caution – avoid distilled water! Distilled water is produced by boiling water and collecting the condensed steam. This process strips all the minerals from the water, which means it will leach the electrolytes from your body when you drink it. Having a few sips is not going to do serious harm, but drinking distilled water for a prolonged period could spell trouble.
3. Store plenty of snacks
There is always a chance that you could get stuck somewhere for an unpredictable amount of time, whether you get stuck in the snow while on the road, or a flood or sever storm prevents you from getting home from work. In these cases, it is vital to have some food around to keep both your energy and your morale up. The key to a great survival snack is something that will provide energy without a sugar crash, and will keep you satiated for a long time. An added bonus is to have something nonperishable, so it will store for longer, saving you both time and money. One great option is canned unsalted peanuts. One ounce contains 161 calories, 7 grams of protein, and 14 grams of fat. That fat is from the peanut oil, which is low in saturated fat, can reduce your risk of heart disease, and provides lots of energy. Jerky is a must-have in any snack kit. One ounce of beef jerky has 116 calories, 9 grams of protein, and 7 grams of fat. As a high-protein snack, jerky will keep you feeling full until it’s time for your next meal. If you’re looking for a healthier option, you can also try turkey jerky (my personal favorite), which has 89 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 13 grams of protein per ounce. Another reason jerky is a great choice is that it is easy and cheap to make at home. A bag of apples can be a refreshing addition to your snack stock-pile. One medium sized apple has 95 calories, 19 grams of sugar, and 4.4 grams of dietary fiber. Fiber is another nutrient that works to keep you full, and helps your body to process the sugar slowly so you won’t crash later. Apples are also a great source of vitamin C. Apples will last in a pantry for 2-4 weeks, and 1-2 months if refrigerated, although these times may vary depending on when they were picked, the climate in which they are stored, and the variety of apple (firmer apples, like a honeycrisp, will last longer than softer varieties, such as a golden delicious).
4. Get a first aid kit
Even small injuries can become a big problem if left untreated. You can assemble your own kit and keep it in a water-proof container, like a gallon sized zip-lock bag, or a large Tupperware container, or you can purchase a pre-made one that will have everything you need included. Some good items to include in your kit are bandages, antiseptic wipes, a blister kit, ibuprofen, tweezers, antacids, antihistamine cream, and a splint kit for sprains. Other good items to have are sunscreen and aloe vera gel, insect repellant, and lip balm. When you get your kit, look over all the items and make sure you know how the use them. The last thing you want is to be learning how to treat an injury “on the job” when someone gets hurt.
5. Use the buddy system
As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. When a buddy has your back, you have someone to help you plan and adapt, keep your spirits up, and who can work as a team mate to help you succeed together. Also, when you are working as a pair rather than alone, you will appear less vulnerable to any bad actors you may encounter. When choosing someone to be your partner, try to find someone you can rely on, doesn’t live too far from you, and whom you get along well with. This person could be a family member, a significant other, a co-worker, a classmate, or maybe a friend. You’ll also have motivation to hold yourself accountable to get what you need to be prepared done because there will be someone counting on you that you won’t want to let down. Once you have found your buddy, go over any plans you have made, as well as their own plans, and see where they differ, where they intersect, and what adjustments can be made to merge them. You can also divide up duties and costs, such as placing one person in charge of water, and on person in charge of food for example. When you are able to be a team with someone, you won’t have to deal with the anxiety of feeling like you have to deal with a crisis alone. You can be confident in your ability to succeed, and sometimes that makes all the difference.