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With all the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many people are starting to talk about disaster preparedness.  The sad thing is we only talk about preparedness after a disaster has struck.  It’s important to prepare well before hand.

We often get notification that a disaster is coming.  There are storm watches and weather reports but that does nothing for those who haven’t prepared ahead of time.  Stores become crowded with people scrambling to pick up those items they should have already had in their home storage.

Growing up Mormon, I spent my entire childhood and much of my adult years hearing about disaster preparedness.  Often, it was in the context of the end of the world but as nature begins to fight back, we’re discovering that the world doesn’t have to end completely for us to have a desperate need to be prepared.

I’ve taken two home storage cooking classes this fall and it keeps me thinking about how prepared are we.  Watching the aftermath of Sandy on the news gets me thinking even harder.  We live in an area that is not prone to long natural disasters.  In the past few years, we’ve gotten a few storms but the aftermath is nothing more than a few hours clean-up.  We haven’t lost power or been stuck in our homes for days at a time.  That’s not to say it can’t happen.

Early in my husband and I’s marriage, I insisted on being prepared disasters.  Then we moved into my family home.  It was smaller than our previous house and life had been good so soon our disaster preparedness kit became a thing of the past.  Then the house burned down.  We had no disaster kits.  We were devastated.  We didn’t even have enough though to pull together toiletries.  Thankfully, we have friends and family who helped us through it all but I have to say, that disaster kit was on my mind.

I share that with people when I talk about disaster preparedness (yes, I teach classes on the subject).  It’s embarrassing to admit that we were not prepared when disaster struck because we forgot it could happen to us.  Now we have a rather good disaster kit in our van.  It looks like we are constantly moving or something but I won’t take the stuff out.  We live with it.  We also store our camping gear with the disaster kit.  It takes up room.

When we had a car, we had a disaster kit in the trunk.  It took up half the space making shopping difficult.  But we would rather have the kit than the extra room.  We can be crowded for a shopping trip home or have to shop for less space consuming items but we will always be prepared for disaster.

However, I realized this week that we don’t have a kit in the house.  We also don’t have a formal plan.  The not so formal plan is to go to my dad’s house because he has a fireplace and more storage space for food and water.  I have been thinking about what if we couldn’t get to his house – such in the case of flood.  We both live on a hill so we wouldn’t have water problems in our living space but we live on hills next to each other with a valley between.  We may not be able to cross over to his house.

Because we have such a detailed kit in our vehicle, I feel like I can get away with less stuff in my house.  The big things for in the house are food, water, medical supplies, light and warmth.

We realized we didn’t even have batteries for our flashlights.  However, we did invest in a couple of hand crank flashlights.  One flashlight had a battery but the top was missing (it was originally in the camping gear so the missing part should be in the van).  Which makes me wonder if we have any flashlights in the camping gear.

I went through our candles last night.  I remember the last time we needed to light a candle (for a birthday cake), it took far too long to find a lighter.  There should be lighters and matches with the candles.

Food won’t be horrible since if we’re stuck in the house we should have food.  Cooking might be a problem but I have a cheap solution.  We picked up a single collapsible “cooker” for our camping gear when my son wanted to try backpacking.  It’s not perfect but it’s cheap.  It’s a metal frame that makes a sturdy box.  A light pot sits on top and a fuel can sits underneath.  The fuel cans are cheap and you can even make one with a tuna can, cardboard and wax.  For that matter, you could make the “cooker” with a metal coffee can.  I’ll make up one, take pictures and post soon.

Water is the hardest part.  You need 1 gallon per person per day.  You need to decide how many days you want your kit to be for.  Three is the minimum and fourteen is the ideal.  For us, that’s a lot of water.  I’ve decided to try buying a five gallon container of water each month so it’s not a financial burden and to give us time to find places for the water.  Water is heavy so it has to be some place that can take the weight.

This has been a long convoluted post and I apologize.  I promise this will be an introduction and I’ll share more as I figure things out.  And I’ll share what we have in our kits and how we put them together.

Meanwhile – figure out what you need in your kit by visiting the Red Cross site.  There’s no need to re-invent the wheel but the practicality of these sites might not apply to you.  You may be in a tiny apartment like we are.  Or you may not have the funds to purchase everything you think needs to be in a kit.  There are some great things out there but the cost is outrageous and it’s tough to know what to invest in.  That’s where I’ll be stepping in and offering advice.