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Using Common Sense for Emergency Preparedness

For years, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been counseling members to get prepared for emergencies, whether they are times of financial struggle within a single family, or something as devastating as a natural disaster. The task of obtaining all the supplies needed to sustain a family through difficult times can make families feel overwhelmed, especially those already living on a tight budget. There are many strategies, however, that can help lighten the burden of emergency preparedness, and they all involve exercising a little bit of common sense.

The first bit of common sense families need to know regarding emergency preparedness is to start small. Begin by preparing a 72 hour kit for each member of your family. The purpose of a 72 hour kit is to sustain the life of one person for three days, and should include such items as food, water, and money. Preparing the kits can be relatively inexpensive, and it is a great way to start training your mind to think about what types of items would be necessary to have in a natural disaster where there is no power. Try not to put anything in the kit that is not absolutely necessary for survival, because it will turn out to be unnecessary weight if there is a need to travel during the emergency. In general, the 72 hour kit should be as small as possible and easily accessible. A great suggestion would be to keep the 72 hour kits in the trunk of a car, this way they would be available in the event that an emergency takes place while away from home. Once the 72 hour kits have been made, families can turn to preparing other items for emergencies such as their food storage.

A misconception many families have about food storage is that it only needs to be bought once, and then it will always be there in case of an emergency. It cannot be emphasized enough that food storage does not work this way…. Most food items have only a few years of shelf-life before they go bad. In order for food storage to be an effective method of survival during an emergency, it needs to always be in good condition to eat, and the only way this can be achieved is if it is cycled out on a constant basis. This means that everything that is a part of a family’s food storage should be used as part of their every day cooking, and then replaced, so that nothing is left sitting on a shelf without being used for years at a time.

One of the most important bits of common sense for emergency preparedness is not to spend money on items that will not be used on a regular basis. In reference to food storage, there are many families who have boxes full of items such as wheat, pasta, and many dehydrated products they do not use in their everyday cooking. There are countless problems with this. The first being, that if there is an emergency many members would not know how to use these products. Secondly, purchasing these products is a complete waste of money, because all they do is sit on shelves until they are no good and must be thrown away. Lastly, storing items a family does not know how to use, especially in large quantities, is a waste of valuable space. The rule for purchasing food storage items should be that if it is not used on a weekly or monthly basis in a home, it should not be a part of normal food storage.

The only common sense way to go about obtaining a large food storage that would be able to sustain a family during an emergency is to do it gradually. No family has enough money to go out and buy everything they would need for an emergency in a single shopping trip; therefore the best way to build food storage is to buy a few extra, commonly used, items every time a trip to the grocery store is made. There are also many cost effective ways to shop in regards to food storage. For instance, wait to buy most items until they are on sale, or shop at a local bulk store where most items cost less money because they can only be purchased in large quantities. Also remember to avoid buying items your family will not use. Always ask, “Does my family eat this on a regular basis?” and “What is the shelf-life of this item?” before anything is bought.

Food Storage is not the only thing that needs to be considered for emergency preparedness, but many of the same common sense ideas apply when looking to purchase other items. Any item that a family uses on a regular basis such as soap, shampoo, and other toiletries, as well as garbage bags, and propane, should be stored for an emergency and cycled out in the same manner food storage should be. Just buy a little extra of these items from the store when you see them on sale. Also keep in mind everything that is on sale is not necessarily a good deal, nor does it mean that you need that item. Families should also consider storing things many people do not think of storing, such as seeds.

There are some larger items that need to be bought for emergency preparedness needs that can be costly. These items include water barrels and tents. Many families overlook the need to store water, some only because they do not know how, but it is to store. People can go a lot longer without food than they can go without water. Set money aside each month to save to buy these larger items, and remember that is takes time to create an emergency supply of everything a family needs.

There are many things a family needs to purchase for emergency preparedness. Using common sense can go a long way in helping to achieve a family who is prepared for an emergency, while on a tight budget.

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