I spent my youth as a member of Boy Scouts and the majority of my adult life in the Marine Corps. Both organizations have something in common: they teach you to always be prepared. Whether working on a Wilderness Survival merit badge or patrolling the streets of Fallujah, the lesson of preparedness was always on my mind.

It’s time we start using this mindset in our daily lives. With economic uncertainty and crises reaching globally, we cannot be sure of the future.

I have always held the mentality of hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. I cannot tell you what is going to happen, so most of preparing yourself and your family will be left to your own devices. I’ll  tell you what I have been doing and why. The rest is up to you.

First and foremost, it is imperative to have a meet up plan encompassing various scenarios. We have seen several disasters in this country, so knowing where to meet in the event of a catastrophe is paramount. My family has a plan for various localities and situations. From a fire in our home, when kids are at school, when one of the adults (me or my wife) are at work, etc.

This plan ensures that each member of my family knows where to go, who to pick up, and phone numbers to contact. We don’t want to be the family in a disaster putting up missing person pictures on bulletin boards.

Now, a plan like this is only good if it is practiced and talked about. Part of every week is spent doing fire drills, discussing pick up points, and making sure each person knows what to do based on a given situation. It also helps to have this information readily accessible in a binder.

My second bit of advice, now that you are working on your plan to ensure family can stay together, is to gather essential items like food, water, and fuel to last approximately two to three weeks at a minimum. We saw with the duration of Super Storm Sandy’s effects, where people did go weeks without bare necessities.

Many people and websites do suggest a 72 hour kit, but practicality tells us the government moves slowly in relief efforts, so we should not be reliant on their resources.

You will want to have a good two week or more supply of food. There are camping outlets that sell packaged dinners as well as MREs. If you can afford it, there are also several companies that offer food storage solutions like Daily Bread and Food Storage Chef. The point is, you need to be ready to feed your family without outside help.

You’ll also need drinking water. This is one of the easiest items to find, since stores all across three United States sell packages of water bottles. You are going to need about three or four boxes per person to be effective with this, so start getting these now.

Also remember the key with food and water is the fact that they both have limited shelf lives, so rotation becomes very important. I suggest using some every month and replacing what was used, to guarantee your supply stays in good standing.

I also recommend having an area set aside in your home for all your emergency supplies. In my case, I use the back wall of my garage.

Food and water are essential, but you will likely need other supplies in order to make it through a disaster.

I recommend getting a full stock of basic medical supplies. There is the possibility that if something happens, hospitals and clinics will be swamped, so it’s best to be able to take care of minor injuries yourself. Tied with this I would suggest taking first aid classes to ensure you know what to do.

Sanitation is of high importance, especially if water utilities have been damaged. I suggest having a solar shower (available in sporting good stores) for bathing, hand sanitzer, sanitizing wipes, and jugs of water (the kind you’d find for camping). I also recommend having extra tooth brushes, tooth paste, and other sanitation supplies packed for each family member.

Sometimes it is necessary to evacuate an area, so I advise having a “ready bag” packed for each member of your family. In the bags you should have a few sets of clothing, warm weather gear, blanket, flashlight, batteries, small food items like granola bars, a water bottle, etc. You should also have a family bag with other essentials and I recommend a couple books and maybe a game or two, especially if you have kids.

A few other items I suggest having in your emergency area are a camp stove, propane, wind up radio, firewood, and at least 25 gallons of gas for your vehicle.

Always keep your gas tank above half, because you never know how far you may have to drive in an evacuation.

I’ll have a full comprehensive list on my website Common Sense Coalition for those who wish to be fully prepared, but I advise you start doing your emergency preparedness now. It’s time to move away from the 72 hour kit mentality and into a more independent survival mode.

God bless.

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