Are you ready for… anything? I mean anything, like a tornado that knocks your power out for days, or some kind of disaster that results in being stuck in snow, without clean water, or out in the woods overnight?
I’ve always been fascinated by “Preppers”, those folks who are ready for end of days survival life and extreme natural disasters. I don’t think that’s likely to happen during my lifestime, but over the years, witnessing events like tsunamis, political craziness, and uncontrollable forest fires that overtake nearby cities, it did make me start thinking that it’s not a bad idea to be prepared for a general emergency- the kind that can actually happen even if it’s not yet the end of the world.
Here are 10 items to get or tips to follow, just in case….
It’s the end of the world!
10 Hacks to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse (and other emergencies)
1. Stock up on water (obviously) We buy bottled water because we live on Long Island and the water out here from the tap is not drinkable (even if boiled), thanks to DuPont poisoning the well water with PFOA. Because of this, I’m already in the habit of buying bottled spring water every week and have an idea how much water we drink and use a day and week (a lot), but for practice, buy bottles and ask your family to use just the bottled water for a week instead of tap water to see how much you will need in an emergency. Then stock up and store away at least a one or two week supply just in case.
2. Stock up on long-life foods We prefer dried foods (dried fruits, nuts, jerky, pastas, etc), and also have jars of food, such as pasta sauce and pickles, in our emergency food supply. We buy soups in Tetra Packs (healthier and better for the environment) and dried mushrooms, and keep an eye on expiration days. Dried foods tend to be very tasty and don’t require preservatives in many cases; they are simply dehydrated and stored in air tight packaging. As things get close to expiring, we eat them and restock our emergency pantry stock.
You might stock up an emergency supply of canned food goods, but if you’re like us and don’t love canned food, leave the cans for a real emergency and donate it all when it’s about 6 months from expiring. Don’t force yourself to eat the canned food products you normally wouldn’t to save money when close to expiring since canned foods aren’t that expensive and just aren’t as healthy. We buy canned foods literally just to supplement our emergency food pantry stock, and buy only BPA-free cans.
3. Keep a car emergency kit with a mylar emergency rescue blanket (this blanket keeps you warm on extremely cold nights by retaining and reflecting body heat back), an emergency signal flashlight that includes an SOS signal, a foldable shovel, matches, rope, latex gloves, a whistle, a hand towel, a large bottle of water (designated not for drinking), and this amazing tool that I love, love, love. This window glass breaker and seatbelt cutter is able to break open a window easily if someone is trapped inside, as well as cut their seatbelt to remove a stuck passenger from the car and carry them to safety. These are only $10 and can save lives, so imperative to have just in case.
4. Have a stock of batteries ready We bought this little kit (less than $5) from Amazon and use it as battery storage to store all our batteries and outlet converters in different sizes, and it’s so easy to have everything in one spot and easy to find. It’s a clear container with moveable compartment dividers, clasps, and a handle, so it’s perfect. We know where to find batteries if the remote dies, or if our flashlights die, or anything. We keep our electrical converters here too. Batteries last a long time so we always go through them before they expire, and you can just replace them in the battery storage container as needed.
5. Buy supplies that don’t require electricity, and even some that don’t require batteries. If a weather disaster happens, an NOAA radio will provide weather updates and emergency updates, and flashlights are an obvious necessity. Emergency radios may use solar power or manual energy (a lever is cranked to supply power), or sometimes depend on batteries, so if electricity goes out (very common in my area during storms or windy days) we can still hear the news, media, and get emergency updates. There are flashlights that have alternative methods of recharging if you run out of batteries (less efficient, but good to have).
6. Have some cash on you. Having a lot of cash on you can be dangerous, but have some ready (in small bills) for items you need here and there if you find yourself with access only to street vendors or there is a problem with your credit card, because sometimes there are cash only places, sometimes credit card machines are broken, and sometimes you are buying something on the fly from a person walking down the street while traveling. In real life not everything can be bought online or by swiping at the end of a conveyor belt.
7. Stock Emergency Signal Gear that can flash out the SOS signal or a red light to alert passersby that help is needed, and a personal WiFi hotspot gadget for emergency WiFi service. Your cell phone may offer hotspot service, in which case have portable battery chargers that will charge your cell phone even if your car breaks down and you can’t access an outlet. You can call for help, and if it’s late coming, still access internet service to try to find your way to safety.
Another great device, particularly if you are older, forgetful, have medical issues, or are attempting to live off the grid but still want a connection to emergency service, is a Medical Alert device or Personal Location Beacon. Just by pressing a button, you can get help to you via an ambulance or other service, and your information and triangulated location are sent to emergency services so help is on the way. Most services are aimed at senior citizens at risk for falls or becoming lost, but there are services for adventurers and hikers who want to be able to call for help if there is no cell phone service and they are lost or hurt- lost beacon services can be life saving!
8. Carry a Swiss Army Knife and get one for everyone in your family. After reading the book Hatchet by Gary Paulsen with my son, I realized the important of having one of these versatile tools that early man had to get basic things done. In an emergency, it can be life-saving. So, we bought a sturdy, high quality hatched from Amazon, and a few Swiss Army knives with important tool attachments like tweezers, a saw, scissors, and we feel pretty ready for some basic living hacking.
My Swiss Army Knife has various knifes, a saw, scissors, bottle openers, tweezers, a screw driver, a hook, and a pick, and I plan to pick up two more for my sons with flashlights in the as well. Another item on my “time to order” list is a Tactical Card which features many emergency supply tools on a metal card that fits inside a wallet- this is the one I’m getting for my husband (who doesn’t want to carry anything but his wallet). Tactical Cards can open cans and bottles, cut and slice, measure, and more and are super small and slim (and affordable).
9. A LifeStraw can be a life saver If you are an adventurer, you may find yourself stuck out in the wild without access to clean water. It’s not a bad idea to have a LifeStraw Personal Water Filter or similar in your dashboard just in case (next to the window glass breaker/seatbelt cutter and tire pressure measuring tool). The LifeStraw or a similar filter is great for campers, travelers, hikers, or just to be ready for an emergency, because it will clean any water you find of contaminants, converting it to clean drinking water in case it takes a few days to get help.
10. Prepare a fireproof tote bag with all your most important documents ready to grab and go (and obviously, hidden in a very safe spot so no one else can grab it and go). We created a home management binder with clear plastic sleeves to store our most important documents and certificates- our home and car papers, birth certificates, marriage license, house deed, etc – and keep our passports, degrees, and anything that is really important altogether in zippered plastic pockets with 3 holes that fit into the binder as well. We have a bit of cash in there (to pay for a hotel for a few nights if there is a fire or other emergency), and the bag is fireproof and waterproof (when closed). If there is ever an emergency, we don’t have to start over, hunting down copies of important original documents, and if anything should happen to either my husband or myself, my children will have a much easier time figuring out what’s what and setting our affairs in order. I know some people keep copies of their credit cards in them (or other wallet contents), as well as passwords to important online accounts so that it’s easier to access money in an emergency. I’ve seen this sort of collection called a Legacy Box, and have seem some lovely wooden boxes available to store these items with lists for what to include, but we prefer a water-resistant and fireproof tote with easy to grab handles to a wooden, flammable, cumbersome box (this is the fireproof document tote we bought).