Family Preparedness 101

For a country family, preparedness is baked into the cake of living. Most of us already have a woodstove, a full pantry and perhaps even a well or creek in the backyard. Our power goes out on a pretty regular basis and those of us living way out are used to being the last ones brought back online. For people in the city or even in the suburbs however, preparedness is something that takes more thought, especially as adverse weather events are no longer the exception but rather the norm.

A full pantry means ready-to-go food in an emergency. Start canning with our black enamelware water bath canner. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.
A full pantry means ready-to-go food in an emergency. Start canning with our black enamelware water bath canner. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

It might help you get organized if you think of your home in terms of systems. Heat, lights, water, sanitation, food and food preparation, communication and entertainment should all be considered and transportation as well if you live in a place that might require evacuation. The order in which you address each system will depend on you and your family’s specific situation.

Our Amish-made buggy robes are not only used by those who drive open buggies in subzero temps, they also kept one of our bloggers alive in a nasty snowstorm in his horse trailer. A very wise preparedness investment! At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.
Our Amish-made buggy robes are not only used by those who drive open buggies in subzero temps, they also kept one of our bloggers alive in a nasty snowstorm in his horse trailer. A very wise preparedness investment! At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

HEAT:
I’ll tackle heat first. If you live in a cold climate a lack of heat might make it necessary to go to an alternative location, especially if you’re caring for a fragile elder or an infant. Otherwise, even without alternative heat, you can stay pretty warm with the right clothes and coverings. Wear layers and make sure you stay dry.

It’s easier to keep a small space warm than it is a large space so closing off one room is a good idea. A bigger problem than keeping yourself warm is protecting your home from bursting pipes. If you have any heat at all, keeping the doors under sinks open will allow the heat to circulate better. Letting the water run a bit will help too, but not indefinitely and not if it gets extremely cold. Learning how to drain your pipes might save you a large plumbing bill down the line.

Find a wide selection of lanterns, oil lamps, wicks, fuel and other supplies at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron. We're the non-electric lighting experts.
Find a wide selection of lanterns, oil lamps, wicks, fuel and other supplies at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron. We’re the non-electric lighting experts.

LIGHTS:
Lights are important for both safety and morale. I have a stash of light sticks the kids can use in their rooms. They let off enough light to get to the bathroom safely and they can’t cause a fire. Keep a flashlight next to each bed and anyplace you often sit. If the power goes out you will need to navigate until you get a lamp lit. Candles are good for atmosphere, but not great to rely on for your only light source. Hurricane lanterns are much better and very reasonably priced. Get some extra fuel and be sure you have wooden matches. Never leave a lamp lit in a room without an adult present. Putting one in front of a mirror will throw off a lot more light.

WATER:
You either have water without power or you don’t. If you don’t, you need to store some. You can just fill clean jugs and rotate them out every few months or buy water. The plastic jugs degrade over time and can cause a terrible mess, especially if one leaks all over your stored pasta, not that such a silly thing ever happened to me. You will always need more water than you have. Just flushing a toilet once a day uses up to 6 gallons.

canned bacon
Our crispy, delicious bacon is pre-cooked and stored in a can, so you don’t have to worry about refrigeration or cooking. Perfect for camping or for your emergency food stash. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

FOOD:
Food can be a few cases of canned meals like soups or stews. If you store dried food, remember to store enough water to rehydrate it. Also remember a manual can opener and check out the small camp stoves. Be sure the one you use is rated for indoor use.

OTHER VITAL TIPS:

  • Don’t let yourself get too low on necessary medications.
  • Stock up on some non-electronic entertainment like board games, puzzles, and books. It is possible to be driven bonkers by a house full of bored, cranky kids.
  • Make sure you keep your car’s gas tank half full. If you do need to leave you definitely do not want to be looking for gas. Park facing out and away from overhanging trees if possible.
  • These are just some highlights of basic preparedness. Just In Case: How To Be Self-Sufficient When The Unexpected Happens is my very own book and I shall hawk it shamelessly. There are lots of others if you prefer.

just in case book

Available at Lehmans.com and at our store in Kidron!

Prepping 101 Book
Prepping 101, also by Kathy Harrison, is available at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor’s Note: This article first posted in September 2015. We have updated it to include Kathy’s latest book, Prepping 101.

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D. Lambright
D. Lambright
2 years ago

Really a great overview of things to consider to be prepared. Most I’ve probably heard before, but some I don’t think I ever had but it makes so much sense. Most preparedness stuff I’ve read just makes me feel overwhelmed, but this sounds doable. Thanks. I may just have to get one of your books.

Angela J Oravetz
Angela J Oravetz
2 years ago

I just ordered Prepping 101. Can hardly wait to read it.

Kathy Harrison
Kathy Harrison
2 years ago

Thank you!

Dorothy
1 year ago

Love all the great thoughts. And there are hard times coming as we have been made aware of, thank you for further insight. Dorothy in Baxter, Tn

Dian Barnhart
Dian Barnhart
1 year ago

Thank you. Great information. Reminded me of some supplies I need to ibtain.

John
John
10 months ago

Please don’t perpetuate the myth of the “6 gallon” or more toilet. Older standard toilets used 3 1/2 gallons for a flush and then refilled that 3 1/2 gallon tank so you would have “one more flush” if the water supply was lost. Toilets are one of the devices designed with water failure in mind ;-)

We’re suburban, not city or country but I’m aware that all services can fail so we cook, heat and heat water with natural gas. County Water has been off three times in 15 years – contractor digging a couple of feet off from where he should have been, the then 50-year-old water mains replaced and then a “boil water” order when a main that serves half the county broke. Power is from one of the co-ops in the county and my informal records show outages of 16 hours (70 mph winds), 12 hours (7 – 12 inches of snow in an area that rarely sees more than 3 inches) and lots of 8 hours and under outages that add up to more than 3 days in 15 years. Did I mention that we’re 2+ miles of aerial wire along tree-lined roads from the substation that provides power?

Probably nothing for country folks but many people near us have NO preps of any kind. The most recent 8 hour outage ran after dark (problem in the same place as 2 previous outages at the same place but this was the longest one – see a pattern?) and there was ONE house visible because they have some level of backup power. We have backup power but it’s silent and primarily for fridge, freezer and furnace. We use portable lighting so our backup power isn’t obvious. We also keep a deep pantry and have 40 gallons of stored water, alternate heating, cooking and lighting.

I grew up in town but with grandparents who had a pantry under the stairs to the second floor, kept chickens, canned a lot of things from the Farmers Market and always had kerosene in the lamps in the house. I think that might have rubbed off on me ;-)

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