If you’re a fan of television shows like “The Walking Dead” or “Doomsday Preppers” then you’ve probably found yourself in a conversation about what your survival strategy would be should “the zombie apocalypse” actually come to pass. While zombies roaming the streets may be a far-fetch problem, the reality is that emergencies take many forms. Some basic planning can put your family many steps ahead of disaster in all its forms.
Make a Plan
The best material preparation in the world won’t be very useful if your family doesn’t have a plan for where to meet and what to do in the case of an emergency. Begin by discussing the actual types of emergencies your family is at risk for and make a written plan for those. If your area is prone to flooding, then your supplies and plan may differ from a family living in an area at risk for wildfires or earthquakes.
Provide each family member with a copy of your plan. Your plan should include emergency contacts outside the family as well as the work, school and cell phone numbers for everyone in your family. Choosing official emergency contacts can help reunite your family if you become separated.
Your plan may also include a division of responsibilities such as as who will secure the pets, turn off the utilities or load the emergency supplies into the car.
Sesame Street’s website offers videos and activities to educate kids and bring them into the emergency planning process in an upbeat way.
The First Three Days: Create a 72 Hour Kit
Emergency response agencies caution us to be prepared to provide our own food, shelter and water for at least three days in any emergency. Often it takes local emergency responders this long to reach everyone affected. This is why basic preparedness begins with a 72 hour kit.
An ideal 72 hour kit is:
Portable. Your home likely already contains enough food, medicine and water to get your family through three “under siege” days, so a kit that is packed into cupboards or boxes offers no advantage. A proper 72 hour kit is designed for “bugging out.” Experts suggest you keep it packed in a couple medium duffles or in backpacks – one for each family member. Portability is important whether you’re escaping the clutches of a zombie horde or just evacuating for a more mundane natural disaster like a hurricane.
Regularly Updated. Check it every six months, rotating perishables into your pantry and reevaluating the items included. Perhaps diapers are no longer necessary but asthma medication has become paramount.
Highly Customized: You can buy pre-packed kits but they won’t be tailored to your family’s requirements. When there is no food to be had, your family will probably be happy with anything the kit offers but packing some of their favorites will help keep morale high in a stressful time. Having your kit loaded with the right medications and clothing is even more critical.
Car and Work Kits
FEMA’s Ready.gov site also recommends building kits for surviving twenty-four hours in your car and at work in addition to your three-day family kit. Both types of kits can be life savers if you become stranded by weather, an accident or even a natural disaster that prevents you from getting home.
To survive spending a night in your car, consider stocking it with the following:
- Jumper cables and spare keys
- Flashlight and batteries
- Your prescription medications or medical supplies
- First aid kit
- Filling non-perishable foods like protein bars, jerky, trail mix, etc.
- Water for each person and animal likely to be in your car
- AM/FM radio for emergency and weather updates
- Cat litter or sand for better tire traction
- Shovel, gloves and an ice scraper
- Blankets, warm clothes, boots or other sturdy shoes
- Cell phone charger and emergency contact phone numbers
- Flares or reflective triangle
- Baby supplies – bottle, formula, diapers, etc.
- Cash (sometimes the only emergency is that you forgot your wallet)
- Full gas tank
Make it Fun
Practice your emergency plan and test your 72 Hour kit by “bugging out.” Camp in your backyard with no supplies except your kit. Give each family member 5-10 tickets they can redeem to go back into the house for an item. Whoever has the most tickets remaining after 24 hours wins a prize.
28 Days Later: Preparing for Doomsday
If you’re concerned about longer-term emergencies that might leave you “off the grid” for weeks or months, you’ll want to consider a larger scale plan. The basic supplies are the same as a the 72 hour kit but you’ll need them in far larger quantities. There are many companies that offer long-term food and water storage options. However, part of what makes long-term preparation so tricky is that it’s difficult or impossible to stockpile some types of foods, medications and medical supplies.
Those that make a serious hobby of “prepping” focus on:
- Getting and staying healthy
- Learning hunting, foraging and gardening skills
- Learning advanced first aid techniques
Earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and yes, even zombies, ensure that there is some kind of emergency your family should be prepared to endure. Make it your New Year’s Resolution to create an emergency plan and a 72 hour kit as a family.