By Karon Warren | Photography courtesy of Jordan Smith
You never know what life is going to throw at you or when, so being prepared is essential to navigating stormy situations.
If we have learned nothing else in the last few months, it’s that life can be turned upside down in a heartbeat. One of the main keys to surviving such upheaval is planning ahead to make sure we have what we need to make it through the day-to-day task of living.
As the host of the “A Family Affair” podcast on the Prepper Broadcasting Network for the last two years, Jordan Smith of Como, Miss., has been educating listeners on how to get prepped for emergencies. The first step is understanding what a prepper is.
“A prepper is someone who is ready for anything life throws at you,” she says. “It could be fire, loss of work, tornado, hurricane, injury, flood, illness — anything that could alter, derail or disrupt your life or way of living in any way.”
When stocking up on supplies, Smith says to start with food.
“I recommend for individuals to try to keep a minimum of 30 days’ worth of food or supplies in their home,” Smith says.
Shelf-stable foods that won’t spoil quickly are the best items, things such as canned vegetables, soup, canned ravioli, rice, beans, frozen meat, frozen fruit, and so on. However, don’t just choose what you think will last for an extended period of time, she suggests.
“People need to store what they will actually eat,” Smith says. “If you’re not familiar with dried food or even like the taste, it’s not going to do you any good to invest in something you won’t eat or enjoy. Make sure whatever you store that you and your family know how to cook it and will eat it.”
Next, make sure you have a good supply of personal hygiene items on hand. This includes shampoo, soap, toothpaste and deodorant.
“[Maintaining] proper hygiene is essential to being clean, to being healthy,” Smith says. “Being able to eat is great, but being able to wash and maintain your health is another issue.”
Along these same lines, it’s important to have enough dish detergent — both for hand washing and a dishwasher — and laundry detergent on hand.
A good selection of activities also could be valuable when life throws you a curve. Think board games, cards, puzzles, crafts, — even gardening.
“[Think of] things in which you can disconnect from all the media, but reconnect with each other,” Smith says. “Pick up a hobby, read a book, start a garden. Be proactive within your space.”
In the event severe weather strikes and the utilities go out, make sure you have the right supplies at the ready. One of the most important is having a means to store water and a water filtration system.
For storing water, Smith recommends using a water bladder (available at many big box and sporting stores as well as online). Filling bathtubs and sinks also are good options for storing water.
When selecting a water filtration system, choose a product from Sawyer or Lifestraw that fits your style and needs. Smith recommends Sawyer systems because you can back flush and clean it out after repeated use.
Regardless of which you choose, learn how to use it ahead of time rather than taking it out of the box for the first time when you need it.
Other items to have handy include a flashlight, batteries, candles, matches, a weather radio, a generator, gasoline, portable power banks, and portable solar panels (also for charging).
In the event you have an emergency requiring you to leave your house, Smith recommends having an emergency bag for each family member.
“An emergency bag is a bag that holds any and all of your essential items for any emergency situation,” Smith says. “Fit your bag to your needs.”
Essential items can include a water filter, waterproof container, an extra set of clothes (include socks and underwear) in a zip-top bag, rations (snacks like dried fruit, peanut butter crackers, granola bars, etc.), a pocketknife, fire starter, flashlight, and a comfort item such as a blanket.
For kids’ bags, light sources could include glow sticks or a battery-powered string of lights. Comfort items can be a lovey, a favorite small toy, or a blanket. Also, include a piece of paper with their name, address and medical information in with their clothes.
All bags also should include a first aid kit with gauze, bandages, saline, alcohol wipes, antibiotic cream, gloves, surgical mask, pain relievers, and needed medications such as an Epi pen or asthma inhaler. Smith suggests that parents teach their kids how to use all the items in their first aid kits.
When stocking up on supplies, don’t rush out and buy everything at once. Instead, do a little at a time.
“Take it at your own rate,” Smith says. “Don’t feel like you have to buy 30 days’ worth at once. Fit it into your family and financial plans.”
Just remember that emergencies come in all shapes and sizes.
“Plan for a general emergency, and go from there,” Smith says. “Prepare based on your own family’s needs and budget.”