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When I Learned to Prepare

Our brothers and sisters in Texas are struggling mightily through this unexpected snowstorm. Their wind turbines are frozen, the power is out, the roads aren't clear. Goods and supplies can't be moved and essentials have run out quickly for many. Pray for them. They were not at all prepared for this. Not on any level. No salt. No salt trucks. No plows. It's heartbreaking to see moms and dads pleading for help with formula and diapers because there is no place to get what they need. Supply trucks can't get to them. These moments happen from time to time and they reveal a great deal about our reliance on life running smoothly without any hiccups. When the pandemic began there were shortages and crises from low supplies. We are generally pretty prepared. I even consider myself a "prepper" and I understand the connotation. It's okay, I am a prepper. Not because I'm running around waiting for the end of days or some Red Dawn scenario to play out but because I learned this lesson first hand in August of 2005. You've heard me write and speak about lessons from Katrina and this is another one.

All kinds of situations can disrupt our normal, everyday lives. Being prepared for them is really an important part of adulting. Here are some ideas to consider to improve your preparedness.

Establish a Prep Circle

For us, our prep circle involves our grown kids and their families as well as their in-laws and a few close friends. These are people we can count on, and who will count on us in an emergency. Between us we have most everything we need and there is no dead weight. Everyone brings something to the table.

When you first begin to think of improved preparedness it can be tempting to run out and buy all the supplies. When you begin, it's not necessary. Decide on what you need most and direct spending to those areas first. You can begin to gather the other things, certainly, but you may be able to rely on your Prep Circle for some things until you finish your own list.

First Things

Focus on first things. Shelter. Food and water. Heat/Cool. Ability to prepare food.

One easy way to build better preparedness is to consider camping gear. A small cookstove and propane can go a long way. Charcoal or propane for grilling is essential if you have electric and beyond that the ability to build and cook over an outside fire if necessary is a great idea. Always have water on hand. During storms - any storm winter or spring/summer - it's never a bad idea to fill up the bathtubs just in case. You'll thank me when you need to flush.

You don't need a bunker underground to be better prepared. Keep non-perishable food on hand, think through essentials and begin to stockpile enough supplies to last 30 days. Rice, beans, flour, yeast and canned goods go a very long way to making sure your family is provided for in an emergency.

Next Level

This isn't advanced prepping by any stretch of the imagination. Really just the next step beyond the most basic items. Consider first-aid, medicine, personal care and hygiene, pet products, toilet paper, etc.

It's good to keep a rolling checklist going to ensure that you use the stock and replace it. We don't want to waste anything.

What I learned first hand is what I want most to impart to you here. You cannot rely on the government. Not ever. Eventually some provisions and services may be brought in but mobilizing those efforts takes time and they become overwhelmed quickly the larger scale the event. And it can take lots of time. Days and days, even weeks to get a good system in place. While those efforts are underway you and your family will struggle if you are not prepared and no one wants that. I think of preparedness like many other adult-y things we have to do but don't want to do.


Life Insurance

Writing a Will

Medical Directives

Mammograms and Colonoscopies We have to do it. We just do. It takes very little attention after it's established but the peace of mind it brings knowing you can weather any storm is priceless.

Most people are like me. I read articles like this one before the hurricane and every time I thought, "I should do that." But I didn't. It took having to live through it to make an impression, and it was a lasting one I assure you. When we relocated away from the coast back to the midwest I immediately had the opportunity to practice what I'd learned. A few weeks after moving in January of 2006 we were hit with a brutal ice storm. Power was out and the grocery shelves were emptied for days. We were prepared. We'd been without power for weeks before, this was a cake walk frankly. I had decided after the hurricane that I would never live in a house without a wood burning fireplace again. Keeping a solid wood pile is essential to me, year round. We were cozy and warm. We all piled into the living room and draped sheets across the doorways to contain the heat. We had camping lanterns, oil lamps and battery operated lights. We had propane and charcoal and plenty of food and necessities. It was a hiccup for us, not a crisis. We actually enjoyed long walks on the bike trails looking at how beautiful the ice was in the trees. Listening to it crackle and appreciating the event for how easily it was able to put us on our heels. Nature will shut us down and exert it's power anytime it wants. We were prepared that go round and I was so relieved not to worry for my kids. The same was true of the pandemic shutdowns. We had what we needed and we were able to be supportive in our Prep Circle. We shared what we had with neighbors and we never felt fear. We can manage about anything if we are prepared. We don't prepare out of fear or panic but rather so that we need not be afraid or panic. It could be an ice or snow storm, a tornado or hurricane, a forest fire, a pandemic, a terrorist attack or any number of random unexpected events. Stuff happens, don't rely on luck, don't rely on the government. Just get prepared and then get on with your life.

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