You Don’t Have to Be a Boy Scout to Be Prepared

Oh. My. What a devastating storm that was! I hope our readers and their families who live in the affected area are all OK. It can hurt to lose material things, but it hurts much worse to lose a friend or a family member.


As I watch things evolve on television, I have to ask myself “why.” Why, when there was plenty of notice that the storm was on its way, with a reasonable idea of where landfall would be, weren’t government agencies better prepared to give aid? To have food, water, blankets, and fuel ready and shelters ready to be set up?

How prepared are we for emergencies? I don’t live in a hurricane area, but we’ve had two earthquakes and one tornado since I’ve lived here. (Yes, I said earthquakes. We live near the New Madrid fault, which will be a pretty big deal when it blows. As many times as I’ve been in California, the only earthquakes I’ve been through have been in Indiana. Go figure.) We get some pretty good storms, with flooding and high winds, too.

The neighborhood I live in was, a long time ago, a race horse breeding farm. It’s full of trees. Old trees. Old, very well fertilized trees. There are seven on our little city lot alone. Two tend to lose limbs when the wind blows hard. Luckily, neither is near the house.

What should we have — and where — when we have notice of what’s coming? Like, say, a hurricane? What should we have — and where — when things tend to happen with little, or no, warning — like tornadoes and earthquakes? Or a fire?

The answer is going to depend on individual circumstances, but there are some commonalities. Those of us who have diabetes are likely to take oral medicines and/or insulin, and we won’t be able to depend on our pharmacy being open. We’ll need strips for our meters. We’ll need snacks, particularly if we take blood-glucose-lowering medicines.

I keep my bottled medicines in a big baggie and fill a seven-day pill holder each week. I could keep those medicines in a backpack that I keep by the back door. I could put a couple of boxes of strips in there, too, along with some snacks and a change of clothes. I could, if I have time, grab some insulin out of the refrigerator on my way out the door. If not, and if my pharmacy is closed, I can buy Regular insulin without a prescription. Since I wear an insulin pump, I always have insulin on me. Literally.

We’ll need a list of our medicines, dosages, allergies, people to notify, and stuff like that. It would be easy to put all of that on a flash drive — or even more than one, if you can. Keep one in your backpack, one in your car, one on your keychain… You get the idea.

Don’t forget to keep emergency supplies at home. One gallon of water per day for each person. Nonperishable foods. Don’t forget to keep a manual can-opener around. (No problem with that here: I can’t manage to use an electric one!) If we’re ever in an emergency where we’re stuck at home for several days, I may finally be glad my husband overbuys food to the point where the cupboard is overflowing and there is no counter space! At least we won’t starve.

I was talking to a friend in Virginia before Hurricane Sandy, who had been picking up flowerpots, chairs, and such from her yard before the winds came. She was talking about cooking the food in her refrigerator if the electricity went off.

How? On a camp stove. Duh. And don’t many of us have grills? I’m still old-fashioned: mine is charcoal.

One place to go to get ideas is here. Yeah, it’s the government. The place that was so well prepared for Sandy. What can I say? You’ll do better. Get started on your planning. I know I need to do some of my own.

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  • jim snell

    Excellent article, comments and suggestions.

    As a type 2; I keep my crisis pack of pills, vitamins, strips etc ready to go at a moments notice and be out the door. Also insulin in fridge ready to go. PUR sub micron walter filters – hand unit as well as water distilling rig ready to go.

    Even in Camarillo, water is off wells and they are not deep artesian on old clean water hiding deep in ground.

    So, Jan has made excellent comments about being prepared, strips , meds, food, water in all.

    We might be in 21st century but present backup is nill, useless. New York simply cannot get gasoline out as most stations have no back up power. Unbelievable in this day and age. Here one sits on thousands of gallons of gas that backup generators use instantly, and no backp up power ( $ 3 k to 9K) to pump gas in a moment.
    How stupid is that. Maybe Fema and the EPA should start driving the important issues.

    This is not an insignifigant point when one looks into Fukishima nuclear disaster, and low and behold they had no portable moveable power packs if needed in a flood/eartquake to keep reactors cool and had to let the lot melt down.

    The Japanese are not cheap nor sloppy but in this case nobody searched their sole and said what will we do in serious emergency to keep the dam fuel rods cool if all else fails? In the end, sea water had to be dumped from ocean on the mess helping to slop the mess/radiation all over.

    I am reminded of my passed away parents who came from the great depression days and to almost the end used to keep 6 months to a year of spare groceries/stored food should things go bad.

  • Mary Rankin

    I live in Florida–hurricane country. But the big storms are not the problem, it’s the little ones with winds that pack a punch that catch us unprepared! I learned a long time ago–before I became diabetic–to keep extra non-perishable food and paper goods stashed. Water bottles in the fridge help keep it cold when the power goes out.
    This is something EVERYONE should do–yes, everyone. Who knows when a disaster will strike?