Tuesday, September 18, 2012

So Where Have I Been?

This marks the first blog post since March for the Couch Potato Prepper.   I was in the midst of writing several different posts when unfortunately life happened.  We began a pretty substantial home renovation project that still needs finishing, and I took some needed time with family.  We were also victims of the massive windstorm that swept through our region on June 29, 2012, and while we were much more fortunate than so many others, we still contended with survival issues.

My plan is to become more active with the blog through the Fall, as I have become more convinced than ever that preparedness is essential to face what is looming around the world both for the United States and the world.

September is National Preparedness Month

 September has been dedicated as National Preparedness Month by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).    There are so many things you can do preparedness-wise, it's really a year-round effort, here are six things you can do in the 12 days remaining this month to make your home better prepared for unforeseen events.

Most of the suggested items for purchase are relatively inexpensive, but whatever you do, DO NOT USE CREDIT CARDS TO PURCHASE ANYTHING.  Live within your means. 

1.   Get pictures of all your valuables and save them to a flash drive, along with an inventory of all major appliances like televisions, game systems, etc.   You should have a manifest of serial numbers with the inventory.  Put the flash drive in a safe place like a fireproof lock box and position a second drive with the same information with a trusted family member.  Scanned copies of birth and marriage certificates, insurance information, and a file with all your financial web site information should also go there.  Use a free encryption program like TrueCrypt to make the information secure.

2.  Start copy canning food.   If you normally use two boxes of pasta a week, buy three; if you use one case of bottled water a week, buy two.  You can increase your food storage for minimal expense over time.   Try it this week when you go to the store. This will give you some reserves in case an unexpected expense arises or supply deliveries are disrupted.

3.  Buy a dependable flashlight for everyone in the house.   Inexpensive alternatives include the Nebo CSI Edge or the Mini-Mag Lite LED.  Ensure that you have adequate batteries for three days of use.  LED lights drain batteries more slowly.

4.  Resolve to never let your car's gas tank fall below half before re-filling it.  Not only does this minimize your pain at the pump when you fill up (gas prices are higher than they have ever been), but it ensures that if you have to leave your home or area quickly you can at least get 200 miles or so before filling up.  If the power is out or communications lines are down, gas stations won't be able to run their pumps and debit card machines will not be online.

While you are at it, if you can store gasoline safely, buy a five gallon gas can, a small bottle of Stabil, and fill the can with gas and fuel stabilizer.  Cost:  $15 for the can, $5 for the Stabil, plus the cost of gas.   This gives you an extra bump of gasoline.  Rotate the can at least once a month by pouring it into your car's tank and refilling it.  That keeps gas fresh and viable.

Gas should never be stored inside a home, apartment, or attached garage.  A detached outbuilding with good ventilation is preferable.

Why am I fixating on gasoline?   Gasoline was an issue during our own emergency last summer.  We'll get to that in a later post, but for now, take a look at this photo essay of a highway evacuation after a hurricane.   These folks weren't prepared and ran out of gas in traffic.  Many thanks to the photographer for posting this.

5.  Begin withdrawing $20 from the bank every payday and storing it in a safe place.   My recommendation would be to have a minimum of $200 on hand just in case.  That amount will get you and your family a room at a cheap hotel for a couple of days and food for about the same amount of time.   The cash can go in the locked fire box with your flash drive.
If you can do these six things, you are more prepared than half of the people in your neighborhood. 

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