Many preppers and survivalists are preparing for major long-term emergencies, such as economic collapse or political turmoil, civil unrest, war, plague outbreaks, or EMP events. But we must not forget about the smaller, everyday emergencies like house fires, bad weather events, temporary power outages, car or appliance breakdowns, sickness, household accidents, and other bad events that don't quite add up to the Apocalypse.
Here are some ideas for preparing for those smaller, less Earth-shattering, but more frequent emergencies. Frankly, all preppers and survivalist should be doing these things before preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse.
General Preparedness at Home
1- Every household should have an emergency fund. A recent study found that almost half of all Americans cannot come up with $400 in an emergency without borrowing the money, using a credit card, or selling/pawning something. This is not a good situation. Do whatever it takes to build an emergency fund - hold a yard sale, sell that exercise machine you don't use, sell that ATV or other expensive toy that you don't really need, brown bag your lunch for the next few months, downsize your cable TV package, work extra hours or get a second job... Aim for an emergency fund of at least $1000, and slowly work up to at least six months worth of expenses (or more).
2- Have some cash on hand. The bank may be closed (weekend or holiday) when you need the cash, and ATMs don't work when the power is out. I suggest finding a really good hiding space in your home to stash $300 or $400. If you can't do that, start with what you can and work your way up.
3- Make sure everyone in your household is aware of what to do in case of a fire. They should know at least two escape routes. Hold a practice fire drill every few months, especially if you have small children.
4- Make sure everyone knows, especially younger kids, how to call 911 in an emergency.
5- Every home & apartment should have at least one working smoke detector. It should be battery-powered, not hard-wired. Make sure the batteries are fresh!
6- Every home & apartment should have at least one Fire Extinguisher. Be sure everyone in your home knows where it is and how to use it. A possible alternative, back-up, or supplement to the traditional fire extinguisher is the Fire Gone Extinguishers. These are smaller, less expensive, very easy-to-use, and easier to clean-up (and they work on class A, B, and C fires).
7- Have a good First Aid Kit in your home (rather than just having random supplies scattered about your house). Make sure everyone knows where it is and how to use it. A good first aid handbook is useful, but all adults and all children of school age should take a first aid/CPR course.
8- Have a bright LED Flashlight, and extra batteries. Several are better than one. Consider keeping a flashlight in each major room of your house.
9- So you can stay informed of what's going on in a power outage, you should have a electrical and battery-powered Emergency Radio. Don't forget to have plenty of extra batteries in case of power outages. You can keep up with weather and news reports, emergency announcements, school and business closings, and so forth...
10- Everyone should have at least a week's worth (and two weeks is even better) of food & water. Think in terms of not being able to go to the store because of a bad winter storm or similar event... Oh, don't forget to include some foods you don't have to cook (peanut butter, pop-tarts, canned tuna, canned soups, canned pastas, etc.) in case of a power outage. (Many preppers and survivalists strive for a year or more of food storage for long-term emergencies, but this article is aimed at everyday, shorter-term emergencies.)
11- Do a home safety inspection. Walk around every room of your home, looking for potential problems, such as clutter that can cause falls, fire hazards such as frayed electrical cords, and poison & other chemicals that are unmarked or easily accessible by children. Make sure all knives, guns, matches, lighters, etc., are secured from young children. Walk around you property and all outbuildings doing the same thing. Most scouts learn to do these safety inspections as part of earning various merit badges and skill awards, so if you know a scout, have them do it for you!
12- If you have guns, please teach your children gun safety. The NRA has gun safety programs for all ages, including young kids.
13- Be sure to talk to the children in your house about basic safety rules, such as not answering the door for strangers, not telling anyone over the phone that Mommy and Daddy aren't home, not touching Daddy's guns, knives, or tools, not running with scissors or playing with matches, and so on. Kids, especially young kids, really do need these reminders often.
14- You may also want to check out my article Workshop and DIY Safety.
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