This is probably the most time consuming step in your disaster preparedness plan, but it will be well worth your efforts. If you’ve ever rented a condo for a week or camped with your family for a few days, you know that being prepared can make all the difference for a stress-free get away. Preparing for a disaster follows basically the same steps. The biggest difference is that you can’t count on the security cushion of the nearest convenience store “in case” you forget something. Don’t let this statement overwhelm you! Instead, let it encourage you to take your task seriously. I truly believe that if you offer this task up to the Lord, He will remind you of areas that you may have overlooked! In fact, He may use YOU to stockpile items that others will need. Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in this area. He may have you prepare for supernatural encounters! How exciting!
Step 1: Prepare to Prepare * You need a 3-ring notebook or a filing system to organize your lists! This isn’t the time to write your lists on the back of a grocery receipt! Develop a system that will work for you! * Use the attached resources. On this site you will find printable lists (pdfs). Use these resources to help you think through the items you’ll need.
Assignment for Step 1: [ ] Take Inventory. Do a thorough inventory of the emergency equipment you already have on hand. Use the following lists as guides. DO NOT let them overwhelm you. Very few people will stock all the equipment listed. The items listed on the forms are to give you options in each category. Be sure to file each list in your notebook or filing system!
Step 2: Make A Plan What is realistic for you? Your budget may not allow a generator, but you could stock up on candles, make your own fuel supply with recycled newspaper, or stock up on relatively cheap forms of energy such as sterno or small propane tanks. According to most emergency preparedness experts, your first priority is to plan for food, water, basic medical supplies, heat, and cooking methods. Your second priority is to focus on emergency evacuation preparedness, and your third priority is to focus on self-sufficiency (i.e. gardening, raising animals, etc.). Your goal for step 2 is to make a plan of long-term preparedness for food, water, first aid, heat, and cooking. Notice, these are the categories listed as your first priority. By far, this is the most time-consuming part of your long-emergency planning. However, your hard work now will pay off in the event of a crisis! We’ve all been in situations when the power has gone out. Other than waiting for the lights to come back on, what did you use to “survive?” Do you remember saying to yourself, “I wish I had (_________) right now?” Use your own experiences as a guide to help you plan what YOU are comfortable using in a crisis.
What would you do if gas or propane were unavailable for a few weeks? Assignments for Step 2: [ ] Plan your storage area(s). Do you have a place to store your tools and outdoor equipment? Is it organized?
Where will you store your food and pantry items? WHERE you plan to store your food will help you to decide WHAT SIZE food containers you should purchase. If you have extra closet space or basement area, six gallon buckets are the most economical. However, if you have no extra space, you may need to store items under beds! The #10 cans may be your best option for this. Just remember, to preserve the shelf life of your emergency food supply, ideally food should be stored at 70° or below.
Using your emergency equipment and cooking equipment. inventory lists, decide which areas of supply your family is lacking. Decide which type of fuel(s) you plan to use, how you plan to cook, heat, etc. [ ] Make a list of the non-consumable items and equipment that you need. [ ] You have two options to help you project the amount of food to be stored. You may use the food storage calculator alone
(link to Food Storage Calculator) this is an Excel form. Simply put in the correct number of people by their ages and the number of months for which you plan to prepare. Use the calculator as your guide to purchase food by the pound, by the #10 can, or in 6 gallon increments. With this plan, you will have supplies on hand but will be required to create menus during a crisis.
Recommended — Your second choice is to compile a two-week menu listing each ingredient and the amount needed to feed your family one meal. (link to Meal-Planning Worksheets). Include breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Also, be sure to include snacks such as cookies, baked goods, fruit roll-ups and puddings! Once you have the menu and ingredients’ list, multiply each ingredient by six. This will give you the amount of each ingredient needed for a 3-month’s supply of food with menus that you know your family enjoys. In addition, you will have made a great start in projecting your water storage needs.
If you plan to prepare for 6-12 months, simply repeat this process after each 3-month supply has been purchased and stored. You may consider creating a new two-week menu which would give you an even broader range of dishes and minimize food fatigue! Use the food calculator (link to food calculator) to see how closely your plan corresponds to FEMA’s recommended minimum amount of each item to store. Look over your menu carefully. Do any of your meals include items that need refrigeration or a quick run to the store? For example, does your menu include chicken pot pie? This could be a great choice because you are able to use canned chicken, dehydrated vegetables, and canned chicken broth or chicken bouillon. But wait, what do you plan to use for the crust? Do you normally use refrigerated pie crust? If so, you need to break down the ingredients of the pie crust to its basic elements and multiply those ingredients. In a long emergency, you will have to make your pie crust from scratch—just like grandma!
If you use the Two-Week Menu Planning Worksheets, then you will have a more precise calculation of the amount of water to store. The Water Supply Worksheet (Water SupplyWorksheet) will help you calculate the remaining water supply. While estimates vary, most emergency preparedness experts recommend storing approximately two (2) gallons per person per day.
Plan to rotate your water supply on a regular basis to ensure freshness. Food grade plastics or glass containers may be used for storage. Be sure to thoroughly clean, sanitize, and dry before filling with fresh water. Most containers that previously held beverages may be cleaned and used for storage. Old bleach bottles may be used for storing water for cleaning but MUST be clearly labeled and stored separately from your drinking water supply.
Water stored for long periods should be sanitized prior to storing. Tap water from municipal sources usually contains enough chlorine to be safe for long-term storage. Water from wells and other sources should be sanitized with approximately 1/8 teaspoon of pure bleach per gallon or teaspoon per five gallons. Do not use bleach that contains fragrances, fresheners, etc. You may also choose to store a supply of water purification tablets. These tablets contain chlorine or iodine which dissolve in water for quick purification. They are available at many sporting goods stores and online sources. The tablets are generally good for five years if store unopened. [ ] Personal Items / Infant Care / Pet Care: For one month, record the amount of personal care items, infant care items, and pet care items you use during one month. (Personal-Infant-Pet List). Use this guide to project how much of each item you should store for your emergency plan.
[ ] Laundry and Cleaning Supplies: For one month, record the amount of laundry detergent, fabric softener, or fabric sheets and cleaning supplies, etc., you use during one month. (Cleaning-Misc Supplies). Use this guide to project how much of each item you should store for your emergency plan.
Cooking Fuel: Plan to conserve fuel as much as possible when cooking and preparing food. Plan ahead during preparation and extinguish fire and/or flame as soon as you’re finished cooking. Research alternative methods of cooking such as pressure cooking and cooking with solar ovens. Some of the most popular fuel supplies are described below. The Fuel Projection Worksheet will help you plan for your cooking fuel need. Please remember that usage times may vary greatly depending upon the amount of food being cooked, weather conditions, and the degree of heat needed to cook. The estimates are based on conservative projections. Sterno Fuel — Sterno fuel is widely used with chafing dishes for catering. Sterno canisters are available at local superstores, Sam’s Clubs, and some grocery stores. Refill supplies may be purchased at some local stores as well as online. The key to using Sterno as a cooking fuel and not just for warming dishes is to focus the heat. Inexpensive Sterno stoves are available at sporting good stores and online. It is safe to use and store indoors. Sterno fuel and the Sterno stove are excellent choices for your 72-hour emergency kit because they are small, lightweight, and travel well. Sterno fuel does have a tendency to evaporate so be sure to check your fuel supply every six months or so.
Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) –LPG (propane and butane - also referred to simply as “propane”) is available in several popular sizes and is an excellent source of fuel when high heat is needed. It is also a good source of fuel for some heating devices. The most popular home canister is the 20-lb tank used for gas grills while the 1-lb disposable canister is popular with campers for their camping stoves. Connecting hoses are available to use a 20 lb+ tank with a camping stove. All LPG canisters and tanks should be stored in a storage shed or outside in an upright position. LPG has a tendency to evaporate so be sure to check your fuel supply every six months or so.
Charcoal – Charcoal is a popular source of fuel most often used in charcoal grills. It may be purchased at almost any grocery store, large hardware store, and even convenience store. With a little knowledge and practice, you can even make your own charcoal. Although it must be used outside, charcoal may be one of your most versatile cooking fuel supplies. Unlike a backyard barbecue, during a long emergency, you will use the briquettes sparingly. Each briquette produces approximately 40 degrees of heat. Using a homemade cardboard oven, or a purchased Dutch-oven table, you can concentrate the heat, use less fuel, and have more control over your cooking temperature. There are many web resources available to learn about homemade ovens and Dutch-oven cooking with charcoal briquettes. If stored in air-tight containers, charcoal is an excellent fuel for long-term storage.
Firewood – Obviously, firewood has been used for thousands of years as an efficient source of fuel for both cooking and heating. For many of us, though, firewood has become an accessory for ambiance in our fireplace. If you plan to store firewood for a long emergency, be sure to research the type of wood to purchase. As a general rule, seasoned pecan, hickory, oak and mesquite are excellent hardwoods that burn slowly and put off a high heat. Whether you cut your own or purchase wood, be sure to use seasoned wood.
Kerosene – Modern kerosene heaters are an excellent back-up source for heating. The heaters are relatively inexpensive and kerosene fuel is readily available. Plan to use 1-K grade white kerosene since it is lower in sulfur content and does not have the same ventilation concerns a 2-K grade kerosene. Be sure to use a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector when using this type of fuel.
Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) – LPG is a versatile fuel as noted under “cooking fuel". Propane heaters are relatively inexpensive and available as wall heaters and portable heaters. LPG In addition to small 1lb tanks, propane is available in 20 lb, 30lb, or larger portable tanks as well as large stationary storage containers.
Gasoline - Gasoline is a highly volatile fuel and does not store well over a long period without a stabilizer. However, if you have a gasoline generator, you will need to plan accordingly.
[ ] First Aid: Plan ahead for your first aid and medical needs. Observe how many supplies you use during a one to two month period. Use this amount (plus extra for those “germy” months) to calculate your three month storage needs. Be sure to include any prescription medications you or your family may need.(First Aid Supplies Worksheet).