Disaster Preparedness Plan Every Family Needs

Disaster Preparedness Plan Every Family Needs

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If you’ve visited my website you should understand through my posts that my goal is to help every family prepare for the unexpected, particularly for disasters and other emergencies. The archive on the website is full of tips to help families in their ongoing efforts to be best prepared. I wanted to provide an outline of the major things to consider when putting together your disaster preparedness plan every family needs.

No matter how careful we are to avoid accidents, live and eat following a healthy regimen, study about and react to possible pending weather or changing climate challenges, and many other critical issues, things happen to all of us that may have taken us by surprise. Many things that come our way are out of our hands, but we do have a choice about preparing for most disasters.

Disaster Preparedness Plan Every Family Needs

Disaster Preparedness Plan Every Family Needs

We’ve all heard about the importance of storing food and water and learning how to prepare meals from our stash, but there is so much more that goes into truly feeling prepared for most contingencies that come our way.

Below, I’ve tried to summarize the plans you need to make for the overall safety and survival of your family, no matter what the cause or circumstances. Besides my own personal experiences, I’ve researched other great sources of information to help put this post together. Some are from government sources, along with prepper websites and posts of related topics from those I trust.

Although disasters and other emergencies can come in a wide range of situations and circumstances, there are some general guidelines we all can follow as we develop a comprehensive plan of preparation. These can come in the form of simple steps that may be easy to implement, but others can take considerable time, energy, and funds to accomplish.

The outline below isn’t necessarily in a particular order or priority, but I do tend to spell out the need for food and water first in most of my preparedness summaries. It’s just me! I’ve always contended that the old adage, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is certainly a truism.

When it comes to being prepared you need to be systematic in putting your thoughts to paper before you go out and spend a lot of money, organize haphazardly, and implement action steps that may not work as expected.

Let’s talk about the most common steps or action items you’ll need to consider as you put your plan together

Water Storage Is A Must

Water storage is the key component of a good disaster plan. We all need adequate water to survive. It is even more important than the food you store. Actually, food and water complement each other since you generally will need to reconstitute many of your foods with water so they can be eaten directly or added as ingredients in the family meal planning.

Some people have suggested we can get along with one gallon of water per person each day. My gut feeling has always been that four gallons is more realistic as we try to prepare for drinking, meal preparation, personal hygiene, and minimal laundry efforts.

Read More of My Articles  Prepping Items You Should Buy Used

You need to remember that water might not be available during the disaster, so plan ahead. Check out my posts regarding water storage issues, it’s a good read for anyone serious about the proper steps for water storage and use.

We Can’t Survive Without Food

We seldom know when a disaster will strike, so having food in the pantry, and possibly elsewhere in your house, like a basement storage room, is a wise use of money and space. Yes, you can go for longer periods without food than you can with your water, but just think how you felt the last time you skipped a meal or two. You tend to get very hungry, have limited energy, and you might even get a little grumpy. Who wouldn’t?

The key consideration in your planning is to have food items that will stay edible longer than just a few days. If you looked at what I have stored you’d see a good inventory of things that I don’t need to put in a fridge or freezer. That would include canned veggies, fruits, and even some meat products

Other Items We Need To Store

Don’t forget to plan on other critical items you’d expect to need in an emergency, like a first aid kit, toiletries, medications the family has to have, light-generating items like flashlights, batteries, lanterns, etc., infant and elderly needs, cooking support items and safety concerns like a fire extinguisher. Most of these are needed if you decide to stay put.

What If You Have To Evacuate?

Think about what you’ll need if you have to evacuate, either on your own or under the direction of local authorities. This isn’t a decision you make off the cuff, there needs to be considerable thought put into this. Things like what do we take, where will we go, how do we get there, will roads be open and accessible for the entire route, and what will we have when we get there?

What About Those Important Documents?

Don’t just think about clothing and those types of items. You need to consider that your home could be destroyed while you’re gone. What about those very important papers like birth and marriage certificates, home and car titles, insurance and health information, tax files, old photos, and so much more.

Check out my printable critical documents binder, it can provide some get organizational ideas that can help you.

Is Your Vehicle Ready If You Have To Evacuate?

There is also the need to plan ahead for the vehicle you’ll use if you decide to evacuate. Is the tank reasonably full, is it properly serviced if you have to travel a fair distance, do you have an emergency kit inside that has been checked lately for current and usable supplies, etc. Be sure to have some extra blankets to keep you warm and a complete first aid kit, just like at home.

Is Your Home A Safe Place To Stay?

If the decision is to stay at home, there are plans for that choice too. If you stay, make sure you have a safe haven and not one that is hazardous. Do you have a fire extinguisher, tools, facilities to cook, etc. I’ve harped for years that alternative cooking options are a must?

I have butane stoves, propane for my BBQ, a Sun Oven so I can cook outside if needed, and even fuel for a fire pit cooking experience. I recently wrote a post about that

How Will We Communicate?

The need to communicate is also vital. You need a detailed plan for the use of cell phones, radio and/or TV access, ham radio or walkie-talkies, and other communication options. I have a crank radio I love. It will work even if the power is off and it includes weather channels so I can keep up to date regarding what’s going on outside and around my area. If you don’t have current information, how can you effectively react?

Read More of My Articles  Disaster Plans: They Aren’t All the Same

Where Is A Good Place For The Family To Meet?

Keep in mind that disasters seldom happen when everyone is at home. As part of your plan, you need to consider on any given day, where will we be and how can we stay in contact and eventually meet at a pre-determined location? You should consider more than one location in case the disaster is somewhat centralized and causes travel and unique safety concerns.

With our crazy schedules these days the family can be scattered all over the place. School, dance, piano, ball games, yoga, gym, business meetings, church activities, and more can make the meeting place plans a real chore. You may have to enlist other family members, friends, and neighbors in your plans if you want to do it right.

Are Your Kid’s School And Your Workplace Properly Prepared

As mentioned above, disasters can happen at any time of day, often when the family is away doing things that families do. You can plan all you want for at-home emergencies, but what if the kids are at school and you and your spouse are at work? You should immediately check to see if there are preparedness plans in place at both locations, and if not, offer to help put one together.

Some schools, particularly private ones, may not have thought about the risks involved at the school if a disaster happens during school hours. Businesses are similar, especially if the business is located in a large campus or building complex. Each location should have a plan that covers a “what do we do if” scenario. Schools lose roofs and windows in violent storms. They also have fires that can spread quickly from classroom to classroom. At a minimum they need evacuation plans, but what if it’s not safe to evacuate.

Businesses are also subject to earthquakes and other emergencies where staff members are put at risk. There should be evacuation plans there too, along with discussions about elevator safety issues and if staff need to take the stairs, etc.

Be Sure To Test Your Plan

Plan your work, then work your plan. You can’t assume just because you have a plan that it will be foolproof. Get your plan put together and then test it out. Go through the various issues we’ve discussed and see if you’ve covered everything. Have some exercises where you stay in place and also when you evacuate. Test your communication system, try the meeting place exercise, have the school try out their emergency plans under different disaster scenarios.

Have You Covered Every Issue In Your Plan?

As you and your family go through the exercises ask yourself the following questions:

How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?

What is my family communication plan?

What is my shelter plan, and do we need to evacuate?

If we do need to leave the house, where will we go, how will we get there, are there alternates we need to consider, etc.?

Did I remember my 72 Hour Kit?

Is the car or truck gassed up, emergency kit in hand, and ready to go?

Sally is a dance, how can I get in touch with her to see if she’s ok, and how can I meet her now?

In case you missed this post, How to Barter with Food and Water

Final Word

Hey, this is just a short summary of the things we all need to consider when planning for a disaster. People smarter than me have written whole books on each section of this post. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the planning process. I promise, if you follow these guidelines, along with your own study of what needs to be considered, and then follow those directives, you’ll be able to sleep better knowing you did your best to protect your family by planning ahead. May God bless this world. Linda

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28 Comments

  1. Preparedness is a lifestyle. My mother grew up in the great depression and was always thinking along those lines. Enough to drink, enough to eat, taking in others if it was needed, these were taught to me from an early age. When we are preppared, we can relax. When Covid hit, I wasn’t in the stores, fighting over toilet paper.

    1. Hi Janet, oh my gosh, I LOVE LOVE LOVE your comment. “I wasn’t in the stores, fighting over toilet paper.” I totally agree with you, preparedness is a lifestyle. I’m so glad we were both raised with mothers that taught us by example. It actually gives me goosebumps typing that. I bet she heard me in heaven say that, I sure hope so. Linda

  2. You only own what you can defend.
    You don’t have to be a tacticool god but you’d better be ready to get after it

  3. I love Janet’s comment too. My DH would grouse about me shopping but when the shut down happened, guess who now says I’m a smart shopper LOL. I wasn’t out there either fighting over the TP, etc or panicking about supplies.
    Linda and friends, we are getting a BJ’s soon and as I understand it they are like Costco’s or Sam’s. Am I correct? I’m wondering those that do use BJ’s how is it? I understand they WILL take manufacturers coupons on top of their catalinas. If anyone is using them, I could use some insight on what type of products, brands they carry and what pricing they have. Compared to Costco’s, etc. Appreciate all you do Linda. Thank you.

    1. Hi Kathy, thank you for your kind words!! I have never heard of BJ’s, wow, that’s exciting if it will save you money! Let’s see who has one in the forum. I would love to use coupons, I’m a coupon person through and through! Linda

      1. Linda, I am a couponer from WAAAY BACK. When the boys were young I did a LOT of coupons as my boys were bottomless pits and growing like weeds LOL. Just a reminder for those that may want to or just starting out couponing, CHECK your stores coupon policies. Ever since that show (Extreme Couponing) came out ALL the stores have changed they way they take coupons, manufacturers and their own around my area. Just before the stores changed the policies I was able to purchase everything I needed for Christmas one year including the gifts for the family AND my regular shopping. I had about $600 in my cart but only spent about $150 for all of it, utilizing the sales, clearances, the store coupons/Catalina’s and manufacturer coupons that were doubled up to a dollar. Yeah we had to wait til the last minute due to financial difficulties that year and we had budgeted about $200 for that year so I was able to save about $50 that year. Now manufacturers and the stores are not giving out a lot of coupons and I fear that due to what’s happening we may not be seeing coupons soon.

        1. Hi Kathy, oh my gosh, those were the days we loved couponing! What a blessing you saved so much when it was critical to saving every penny. The price of everything is escalating, food, cars, electronics, dehydrators, protection needs as well. Hang on for the ride. We must get through this. And we will. Linda

          1. I know Linda, I keep chugging along. Just so glad I was raised to have “extra” on hand and my grandmother and mom taught me how to conserve, use up and recycle when I was younger. That and the fact my dad was the King of the Pack Rats helped. The man never threw anything out LOL. Stay safe and may the Good Lord keep you.

          2. Hi Kathy, oh my gosh, King of the Pack Rats! We just moved to Northern Utah, and my husband gets that award too. LOL!! Finally, the week before the truck was to be loaded he started letting go of a few things. I packed my “hoarding stuff”(food and preps) but he had to pack his. LOL! It’s funny how you see how much STUFF you have when you have to box it up! Life is good and full of adventures!! Linda

    2. Kathy, yes, BJs is like Sam’s or Costco’s. We do not have a Costco in our state. We had never joined either of the others, but with the things as they are now, we did get a membership to BJs since it is the closest to us. My hubby picked up some things today and what I priced out was a little cheaper than shopping at WalMart.

    3. Hi, Kathy: The powers that be moved ALL Sam’s Clubs (we were members for DECADES!) out of our entire region! Thus, when we do big box stores, it’s always BJs! We like BJs a LOT, except that we try to nearly always buy organic foods and they have a bad habit of bringing something in that you learn to love and later replacing it with something conventional (sprayed/poisoned) or with something of MUCH lower food value. I would not say this is a major issue, though, because it happens once in awhile. I love that you can actually speak to the store managers about what type of products you want to buy from their store, and they ACTUALLY listen…at least in our area. BJs has decent prices on T.P., Kleenex “bundles” and clothing. Their produce section is a must for us, too! We do also EVERY month, buy my husband things to make sandwiches to take to work, like Applegate lunch meats and their Arla Cheese slices, YUM! Believe it or not, our adult son and his father are BIG fans of the inexpensive Season Sardines in Olive Oil. Those are quite regularly on sale, and the coupons are good for each (same) item, so you get the amt. off EACH ONE…i.e. I recently saved $12.50 on Sardines for my two guys!! We keep a large supply of those on hand, as they are considered nearly a superfood, especially good for prepping, because the Olive Oil is good for having enough calories in a crisis. We only buy tuna and salmon from extremely “clean” sources, so buy those through Vitacost and Azure, though. Even our VERY PICKY doctor, who tells you exactly what you should eat to stay healthy, swears canned sardines of decent quality are excellent for you, as well as the bones are good for calcium intake. They also have a great selection of dried fruits and nuts at decent prices.
      We do see lots of olive & avocado oil, canned soups, veggies and fruits, too. I know that some of you out there have said you have trouble finding those, but BJs is one easy place to get them. We also have been known to buy coats, undies, jeans (my family loves theirs), designer leggings and sweaters. Two days ago, I also purchased two JCPenney gift certificates for our “kids”, too, at reduced cost. They mailed them to me without tax and w/free shipping! Believe me, in New York State, the no tax is a really big deal!! LOADS OF BABY SUPPLIES AND PLASTIC BAGS OF ALL TYPES (garbage, ziplock), TOO! PAPER PLATES, CUPS, Laundry and dishwasher supplies. You name it!…
      Sorry, I have never used newspaper coupons at BJs because they have so many coupons of their own, shipped to your house and sometimes “aimed directly at your buying habits”.
      Once again, this is getting long, so I am going to let y’all have a life! Best to all you smart peppers!

      JOYCE S. FROM CENTRAL NEW YORK

      1. Forgot to say that I always buy their organic chicken breasts at BJs, cause the quality and pricing if great! We find it SO EASY to pressure-can the chicken breasts for prepping! FANTASTIC!

        1. Oh,man, I keep remembering MORE about BJs….sorry! I bought about 8 Christmas gifts of clothing on the clearance table from BJs back in September or October. Every, single piece was marked down to $2.99!!! AND they were all high quality sportswear or sweatshirts in wonderful colors, some sports tops with moisture wicking, too!

        1. Oh, sorry! I thought someone posted that you will be HAVING a BJ’s move into their area, or I would not have posted all of that about BJs!!

          1. Hi Joyce, no worries, I hear about BJ’s and Aldi all the time. We do not have them in Utah. This will help many people where they do have them. Linda

  4. I have some things. I stocked up before the toilet rush so I was ready with that. I’m having somewhat of a hard time convincing my DH that we need to do more. I am working on it.
    I bought some Thrive food. All the kits were sold out so I bought some single boxes that were still available. My hubby was a little aggravated that I did that. He asked how many meals did I buy. So I told him all the meals were gone so I bought what I could. LOL

    Wish I could make him get it.

    1. Hi Lisa, just so you know, you are not alone. Right now Thrive Food and any freeze-dried food is way overpriced. The reason being food is overpriced right now. I have stopped buying freeze-dried food for the time being. I am stocking up on canned goods with fruits and vegetables, and meats, and of course cream of chicken soup. When I was younger (I’m now 71 years old) I saw the value of freeze-dried food. But it was 1/8 of the price it is now. I could use some of it and set the majority aside for 20 years. I saw the price today of Thrive Life ground beef: one #10 can is almost $90.00 https://www.thrivelife.com/other/freeze-dried-ground-beef.html I refuse to buy or recommend it. What you have is great, just buy a few cans of canned food. Would I love fresh fruit and vegetables, sure, but I will need to grow it myself. And I can. Here is a link on canned foods I recommend: https://www.foodstoragemoms.com/canned-foods-i-highly-recommend-you-store/. You can do it, and spend less. Keep it up, Linda

  5. It’s always fun to read your articles, Linda. Preparedness really is a lifestyle, as Janet said. I too grew up having parents who ‘kept/had’ extra stuff year-round. While my dad had power tools, he also kept a lot of hand tools. While my mom certainly bought canned foods, she sure didn’t get rid of her pressure canner. I didn’t realize til I was an adult, raising my son, how really desperately poor my family was for a number of years when I was young. I don’t think my own kids realized how I struggled for a few years during hard times. Like, we had food because I gardened, I had gas money because I sold seedlings and did garden consulting, etc. Their jeans didn’t have holes in the knees because I sewed on iron on patches inside of their pants. I was able to keep my faltering independent ad sales going and buy Xmas presents because I took a job cashiering late night at Walmart. I sometimes wonder if my two sons and grandson will think back to this time in our life, remember and realize, like I do with my parents, how hard times are just a matter of how a person deals with it. I have a young lady who is staying with me temporarily. She literally has No help in getting started in life from her parents. No, they’ve never done any preparedness things. Well, honestly, they haven’t even done a good job of keeping just daily needs met for their kids. I’m slowly teaching her a lot of basics. Lol, yesterday I showed her how to light my propane water heater. Today we are gathering my yard tools, storing, getting out the snow shovels. Tomorrow I’m going to show her how to change a wick in oil lamps. Oh, she likes that I have extra food! And, she organized my stuff after my last big order. Um, I think she may have grown up with ‘food fear’ as when she came, she had food stored in the back of her vehicle.

    1. Hi Wendy, what a blessing you were to your kids and now this young lady. We really are blessed to have had the experiences we grew up with. And we survived and are teaching others. It’s a way of life for us. Great comment, Linda

  6. My husband was always grousing about my buying more than we need. Now he is really big into my couponing for little extra every time we shop. It does not take a lot to get a lot to save for emergencies.

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