Creating A Support System for Personal Emergencies and Disasters

Sadly, many of my friends are going through their own personal emergencies and disasters: loss of a job, death in the family and even a good friend starting breast cancer treatments as a single mom. Thankfully, I feel blessed to be a part of each of their support system as I know they would do the same for me if the situations were reversed. Each personal disaster that I see my friends go through brings me back to the heart of what this site is about: preparing for the unexpected. Too often “preppers” are painted with a Doomsday brush. But really, the majority of us that prep are more trying to be ready for those unexpected bumps in the road that involve your own family.

How to create support system for personal emergencies

This post is about creating  and sustaining your own personal support system. I am blessed to have a group of friends who would be at my door in seconds with meals for my family, rides for my kids, or a mop to help me clean. I know. I have seen them do all of that for members of our group. Many churches organize groups like this as “relief societies”, mine is an informal network of friends. It doesn’t matter how you find your group. The point is you need to either make one or get involved in one.

Sit down today and walk through your average day in your head. Now, imagine, you had to have an emergency surgery and couldn’t be there. Make a list of all the possible things you could need help with and who could be there to fill in for you. If you are relying on a spouse, remember, they are going to need help helping you!

  • Who is going to get the kids up, dressed and feed them breakfast in the morning? Can your spouse take a few days off? Do you have vacation time or sick time set aside for that? Or extra money put away to cover the time off? Could one of your parents help? Are the kids old enough to do it themselves if that just meant pouring cereal (have some extra on hand?). Have you taught your kids how to make themselves very simple meals like scrambled eggs?
  • How will they get to school? Do you have a back up like a carpool group? Or a neighbor? If they ride a bus do you know your neighbors well enough to look after your kids at the stop? If you homeschool do you have independent lessons they can be working on? Or learning activities like puzzles or a fun computer game that they can do until you are better?
  • Who will cook dinner? Do you have a nice stack of take out menus around? Do you have freezer dinners (hint: I am posting some great recipes for this weeks Sunday Skills)? What about your support group?
  • What about your pets? Do you have enough extra food around for them? A neighborhood kid who could walk them and clean up after the dog in the yard?
  • Do you have someone who could take over your role at work? PTA? Church? Really wherever people count on you…do you have a backup?

The above questions are meant to get you started thinking about who you could count on for back up for a short time. But what happens if your emergency is a bit longer? I have a friend with 5 kids who broke her leg in multiple places this year. Her recovery process is likely to be 6 months. What if you needed help for that long?

How to Create or Find a Support System

The old saying “To Have a Friend Means You Must First Be A Friend” comes to mind. Have you volunteered to bring dinners, give rides, or otherwise help a friend in need? Do you check on your elderly neighbors regularly? Offer to take them to the store or pick up things for them? Same thing for the mom with a new baby! Creating an attitude of community caring in your life will go a long way when its your turn to need help. If you belong to a church, talk to them about spearheading a committee for this. How about just talking to your friends and creating a circle of people that want to give and get this type of support? For the friend with a broken leg, we used the service Take Them A Meal to plan out who could help with dinner. My friends used a simple spreadsheet in google docs when I needed help this summer. It’s not hard. It’s about being there. And about understanding that no matter how prepared we are, everyone needs help now and then. Make a support network part of your prepping plans!

Family Food Storage Plan For 3 Months

Making a family food storage plan for 3 months can feel daunting.  Overwhelming.  Something you’d rather not even think about.

How much do I need?

Where do I start?

How am I going to pay for it?

I suggest working on a 3 Month Family Food Storage Plan.  3-Months of foods you KNOW your family will eat.  Nothing funky.  Nothing you hope they will eat.  Don’t buy into the theory that when people get hungry enough, they’ll eat whatever you put in front of them.  It simply ain’t true!

I suggest you begin by creating 7 breakfast menus, 7 lunch menus, and 7 dinner menus that your family is familiar with and enjoys. 

Then break each menu down to each ingredient.  Don’t just assume you have enough tomato sauce, go and check.  Add up how many teaspoons of salt you will need and make sure you have it on hand.  How sad will you be when your Italian pasta bake has no oregano because you thought you had enough? If you like mayo with your tuna salad, you’d better list mayo on your ingredient list.  The same with pickles.  How’s your supply of celery salt looking? Go ahead and look, I’ll wait…

Now you should have the ingredients listed for 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 7 dinners.

Since you are working towards a THREE MONTHS family food storage plan, you’ll want to take those ingredients and multiply it by 12.  12 weeks = 3 months.

  • If you are planning on serving oatmeal for breakfast once a week for 3 months, and your family uses a pound of dry oats per breakfast, then you are going to need 12 pounds of dried oats.
  • If you need 1 cup of raisins for each breakfast, they you will need 12 cups of raisins total.   How much brown sugar does your crew plow through each time they eat oatmeal?  You are going to need that much, times 12.
  • Oh, and if your family likes milk on their oatmeal, you’re gonna want to make sure you have either powdered or canned milk in your stash.

What I like the most about this plan of starting your food storage  is that you wind up with exactly what you need in order to make a variety of complete meals. 

(And because you have three months of meals your family can’t wait to eat, you can easily rotate the ingredients for each meal.  Yes, you must rotate your food storage. Don’t give me the stink eye over this.  Storing only cans of stuff that lasts for 20 years, is expensive and  full of sodium.  In times of crisis your family is going to want foods that are familiar. )

Imagine 3 months of nothing but taco shells, green beans and pudding cups.

Yeah.

This plan is sounding better already, huh?

Food Storage Plan

Food storage plan for 3 months step by step infographic

PS:  Wondering how to make meals that call for meat if the power has gone out?  Yoders makes canned meat that actually tastes good.  With an (approx) 8 year shelf life, you may want to invest in a few cans.  I keep a couple of cases of the canned hamburger on hand.

Family Emergency Plan #2: Make a Family Information Form

This is part two of a Family Emergency Plan series written by our contributing writer, Prepper Lush. Make sure to read Family Emergency Plan #1: Talking to Your Family.
Family Information Form as a part of your Family Emergency Plan

Most women I know are list makers. Maybe not actual lists in your purse or laying around the house, but lists in our head, so, I think our head needs more room.

Make a family information form (list of your family).

  • It should include the name of all the family members whom live in the house, phone numbers for each, email address, what school they attend, where they work, A phone number for an out of state contact, where they should meet if they can’t get home.
  • Important information. Bank numbers and codes, life insurance, copies of insurance cards/credit cards, social security numbers, birth certificates and other things your family may need to know if it’s necessary.
  • Up to date photos of each person in the family, defining markings and their locations (this is for those people whom don’t live at home as well, college aged kids, etc)
  • Copies of keys for rooms in the house you may have locked (gun closet, safe combination, etc)
  • Family plan: Ex: If an emergency comes up and I can’t drive home, I’ll be walking; it’ll take me about 2 hours to get home. So the teens know to go and get their siblings from school and go home. Get things to supply the house with light and don’t open the fridge/freezer so it can stay cool if the electricity is out.(Come up with a plan that’ll work for your family)
  • Enough money to get you and your family out of town if you had to.

This whole thing should take about 3 hours to compile, depending on what you have. It might take a few days, just have a goal in mind on when you want it done. Then do it.

After you are done, put it in a plastic bag and in the freezer.

FREEZER?

Yes… it’s the most fireproof spot in your house. I thought my husband was silly when he told me that the first time. It’s true, keep your stuff safe, put it in the freezer and check it out again every time you turn your clocks back. Make changes… update.

  • Now… put a mini one in all of your vehicles (sans the SS#, bank account, etc). Just things you might need like, bug out plan, family information, cash, etc.)
  • Take one to work.
  • Give one to a family member/child that’s moved away, etc.
  • Give an instruction book to the child care provider/in kids backpack.

Links to online Family Emergency Plans:

http://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/Family_Emegency_Plan.pdf

http://www.safetyathome.com/2009/04/16/create-your-own-family-disaster-plan/

 

What would you add to your FEP? I’d love to gain more ideas, I hadn’t even thought about cash until a friend of mine brought it up after Sandy hit New York this Oct.

Family Emergency Plan #1: Talking To Your Family About the Plan

This is the first of many articles to come from our contributing writer, Prepper Lush. Please connect with her in the comments and let her know what you think of her article!

 ‘If the electricity went out in your school, then after an hour the school allowed you to go home. What would you do? What if you couldn’t access text/cell phones either?’

Cloudy Skies Over City

 

I asked my son this question to see what his answer was. I didn’t do it to scare him or to freak him out, but I did ask him because I need to open the line of communication of “What if?” He’s 17 and a senior in high school, so I didn’t have to be as cautious about what I said as if I was speaking with my elementary school kids.

Remember the audience you are speaking to, if you scare someone they won’t hear what you said, they will focus on the fear. The whole reason for asking this is to give them a sense of confidence so if it does happen they know the game plan.

Game plans change.  In 9 months my son will be heading off to college which leaves me with no one to pick up my kids in case of an emergency. I’ll be talking with a neighbor in that case, because she’s home during the day and our kids are in the same class.

I might be working in another location and be closer to home so I could get them, or perhaps it’s an economical shift and one of us is working at home.

Make sure you include your college aged students in these conversations. Where are they supposed to go? How long should they wait before they try to head home, should they? Come up with a way to get them in a safe location that works for you and them.

Change your FEP with each major change in the family. Adding a child, marriage, divorce, baby sitter, job, etc. you need to stay on top of it, the worst thing you can do is leave your loved ones stranded and scared before you can get to them.

“IF’s” are necessary conversations to have, or at least to put into your FEP booklet. IF you don’t make it home, IF you are not home in 2 days, what are the kids/friends supposed to do IF comes true. Plan for the worst, Hope for the best.

Next: Family Emergency Plan #2: Making a FEP booklet – What information to include/Location of book