OFB: Preparedness Month

Preparedness Month

A few days ago, I officially declared October our month of getting prepared. We’ve spent the last few years becoming financially prepared, but lately we’ve both been feeling like that isn’t enough. I recently read an article on Real Simple that outlines how to stockpile for an emergency, and it has me wanting to quit thinking about it and start doing something. So while all of you are buying Halloween candy, we’ll be stockpiling peanut butter and powdered milk. And if the trick-or-treaters are lucky, they’ll get a scoop of both in their bags. But you better believe I’ll be dressing Sally up and taking her trick-or-treating. Because free candy.

But back to emergencies. Neither Johnny nor I are what you would call extremists. We’re actually glass-half-full pragmatists. We don’t believe in conspiracies, we don’t believe the apocalypse is coming, but we do believe that sometimes bad stuff happens (like, maybe, a zombie apocalypse). We know firsthand about being laid off from a job, for instance. And now that we have little Sal, we just want to make sure that if for some reason we need an extra supply of food and other resources, we’ll have it.

So how does one go about stockpiling? Well, as the Real Simple article says, I’m mostly planning on buying food items that we already eat and that have a longer shelf life. I’m probably going to buy many of the items from the list that we already use regularly:

  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts, trail mix
  • Cereal
  • Granola bars
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned veggies
  • Bottled water
  • Bottled sports drinks
  • Powdered milk

I also plan to get a first aid kit put together, as well as over-the-counter drugs we use regularly, such as Tylenol and ibuprofen, both in child and adult form. Some items, such as toilet paper and soap, I already naturally have in bulk from buying at Costco. And it just so happens that our guilty TV pleasure of choice right now are a bunch of survival reality shows (ahem, Naked and Afraid) that are helping inform us on survival.

We’ll keep you updated on our preparedness progress throughout the month — what we buy, where we store it in our condo, and how our budget fares in the process. And, of course, we’ll keep a tally of our total spending. What about you? Have you ever considered stocking up and preparing for an emergency? And not to be a Debbie Downer, but it’s not completely coincidental that this post is coming out the day after the first reported case of Ebola in the US.

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  • Reply Jordann October 1, 2014 at 7:19 am

    This is something that has been on my mind lately, and I’m finally doing something about it. First order of business is getting together a bit of a food stockpile. I’m going to buy one extra item every time I go grocery shopping, to spread the cost out over multiple trips. I also have a list of stuff I want to buy on Amazon like: solar powered cell phone charger, battery operated radio, first aid kit, and hand pumped water filter. These few items could go a long way in the event of a prolonged power outage (not unheard of in my area).

    Also Ebola in the US = scary.

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:23 am

      Sounds like you’ve got a great list of items to buy! This may sound a bit boring, but a few of those items could make great stocking stuffers, if you want an excuse to get them in the near future :).

  • Reply Anne @ Money Propeller October 1, 2014 at 8:08 am

    We’re pretty decent on the food front, because of how I normally shop, but I really need to restock the water supply. We ended up using ours during the flooding last year, when we had a boil water. Those are generally a good excuse to use it up to rotate it.
    I think having a bit of a stockpile and side emergency gear is a good idea for everyone. Having lived on the ring of fire, it’s one of those things that you always think to do but put off.

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:24 am

      Well, you put that water to good use! I’m not a very extreme person, but it’s true that you never know what tomorrow brings. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared!

  • Reply Amber October 1, 2014 at 8:19 am

    I’m my neck of the woods, it’s being prepared for a snowpocalypse! We had a ton of snow and a week long power outage due to an ice storm. I’ll be stocking up on things like propane, candles, and batteries. Although my inlaws have a generator, so worst case scenario… I’ll be headed there.

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:25 am

      Ugh… that sounds awful! Candles are a great idea I hadn’t thought of before. We live in Utah, so a snowpocalypse isn’t out of the question here, either!

  • Reply Laura @ Rather Square October 1, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Interesting, I’ve never really prioritized being prepared for an emergency with a food stockpile. It’s a good idea. We mainly focus on the financial emergency stockpile. It saved us last winter, actually. Our old furnace died during one of the (many) extreme cold spells, and we luckily had enough emergency cash to replace it. I’m a new reader to your blog so I’m not sure if you have this, but I would definitely recommend a cash emergency stockpile in addition to your food one!

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:26 am

      Great tip! We keep some cash in our emergency backpack just in case!

  • Reply Becky @ RunFunDone October 1, 2014 at 9:34 am

    I definitely don’t have anything prepared for an emergency, but last week, I put a wind-up flashlight/radio combo underneath the sink. So, there’s that.

  • Reply Wade October 1, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Costco has a pretty wide selection of “Emergency food”. Several times I have almost bought a stock of 60-90 days of food. Then I think about storing it. I think I’m losing it.

    I guess it is logistics, not cost that keeps us from creating an emergency stockpile of food and water.

    The zombies will probably get us first.

  • Reply Tarynkay October 1, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    I have always said that if the zombie apocalypse comes, I want to die in the first wave. I have no interest in hanging around living out The Road or something. Did you read that book? Yeesh.

    That said, my dad works in disaster relief (mostly helping power companies deal with and prepare for hurricanes and earthquakes.) So I do keep extra food and water and basic medical supplies and matches and candles and flashlights and batteries (etc etc etc) on hand. The chance that the power and water will go out for a few days at some point is pretty high. But I figure if society collapses, we probably aren’t going to be able to hang out here in the suburbs anyhow, so I don’t see much point in stockpiling decades of emergency rations. Just more tuna fish for the zombies at that point, right?

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:31 am

      I started reading The Road, but it was just too bleak for me, ha. I have to stick to mostly happy novels because I’m a wuss.

      And agreed with everything you said! If things are so bad that we need more than our small supply of food and emergency supplies, the world is in bad shape, indeed. I figure at that point, I’d have driven to may parents’ house in the woods of Alabama anyway!

  • Reply EcoCatLady October 1, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Well… I do have some experience in this department. I went a little bit nuts after hurricane Katrina (hurricanes being such a big problem here in Colorado, don’t you know!) Anyhow, I decided to stock up on canned food etc. It wasn’t entirely a bad idea, but here’s what I learned.

    1) Only buy stuff that you will use anyhow. Yes, I’m looking at you, case of canned spinach (seriously, what was I thinking?)
    2) Come up with a system to rotate your stock – I fear I decided to store it all in a closet under the stairs that was kinda hard to get to. This meant that when I needed a can of beans I ended up just buying a new one instead of using the ones from the stockpile. BAD idea!
    3) Buy in reasonable quantities. Soooo… let’s see…. hurricane Katrina was in 2006 and I still haven’t used up even half of the 25 pound sack of pinto beans that I bought. While they don’t technically “go bad” they do lose most of their vitamins after a few years – plus they no longer get nice and soft when you cook them. I think I may be making bean bags soon!

    Anyhow, I ended up tossing several big boxes of canned goods because they were either exploding or they were years past their expiration dates.

    And… the other thing not to do… when creating an emergency kit for the car, somehow I decided that candles would be a good idea. What on earth was I thinking? Well… you know, if the car breaks down in a remote area at night, maybe I’d want a candle? Good lord! Anyhow, candles, ahem, tend to melt when left in a hot car. Seriously, I will NEVER get the blueberry scented wax out of my car. Oh well, at least it smells good!

    So, in conclusion I say go for it, but don’t be an idiot!

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:33 am

      Thanks for sharing all your tips! It’s great to hear from someone who’s been there, done that. I’ve been trying to keep what you said in mind as we do our stockpile this month!

  • Reply Lizzy October 1, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    I like to have enough food, pet food, cleaning and hygiene supplies for two weeks. Honestly, though this is more a financial thing than for true emergencies as much of the food depends on refrigeration or cooking.

    I.live in S. Florida, so if we are under a hurricane watch I stcck up on bottled water, whole grain bread and peanut butter and things that don’t need cooking or refrigeration. (knock wood….this has not happened for a while.). I also keep flashlights and batteries on hand

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:35 am

      Smart. I didn’t even think of pet food, poor kitty. And you’re right… stocking up can be great for financial emergencies, too!

  • Reply Jay @ ThinkingWealthy.com October 1, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    I should probably do this but I just can’t bring myself to acknowledge the need! Perhaps it’s since I don’t cook really so having all that extra food would seem odd to me, ha!


  • Reply Rob October 1, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Sounds like a plan, Joanna. Back at the turn of the century, when Y2K drama was rampant (with people not knowing how computer systems would behave), many like us stock piled food (just in case …). Not only did we buy canned and dry goods, candles, etc but we also bought candles, flashlights, a portable radio, and a manual can opener (just in case the power blew). One thing about your plans – be cautious when it comes to stockpiling your emergency meds, especially keeping them past their expiration dates, as their potency and effectiveness might degrade.

    That all said, around last Christmas eve Toronto experienced a major freezing rain / ice storm (which knocked out power in many areas for over a week). We toughed it out (freezing in the cold) for a day but then hi-tailed it across town to our daughter’s house (they had power) where we celebrated Christmas with her family and hung out until our power returned. So, not only stockpile for emergencies but also have a pre-planned “Plan B” survival strategy as no wo/man is an island. One never knows …

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:40 am

      I remember the hype of Y2K! Even though I was young, I was worried the world as we knew it was going to end as soon as midnight rolled around on New Year’s Eve 1999. Good times, and glad the hype was for nothing!

      Winter is as unpredictable as they come out here, so that’s a great idea to have a Plan B strategy just in case!

  • Reply Meghan October 2, 2014 at 1:13 am

    I’m going to finally print the disaster checklist that the government had on a website and get some stuff. You might want to add a few gallon jugs of water too. I will have to stay away from foods that I would ONLY eat in an emergency. Growing up in Coastal Alabama, I ate plenty of canned chicken on crackers during/after hurricanes but got out of the habit once I moved to Colorado. Now that I’m in the DFW, maybe I should… Plus I am not scared of Ebola but stupid people worry me, and there are always plenty of those. 😀

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:42 am

      Ha, too true. We live in a world full of dumb people who would love to do this country harm… I’ve watched one too many episodes of 60 Minutes as of late. And I agree… we’re sticking with food we’ll eat even if we’re not in an emergency!

  • Reply Little House October 2, 2014 at 9:48 am

    We put together our earthquake preparedness kit a couple of months ago. Still haven’t sorted out the food quite yet, but we have many other items on hand to get us through a few days without electricity or water. That’s about as far as we’ll probably go with being prepared for emergencies.

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:44 am

      That’s great! Keeping in mind possible local natural disasters is one of the best ways to focus in on preparedness.

  • Reply Brian October 2, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    It’s great that you’re deciding to store up some food and supplies just in case. To me, that’s just as important as my (slowly growing) financial safety net. I think of savings and emergency supplies as two sides of the same coin. Also, if you are wanting to store some water, but you don’t want the ubiquitous gallon jugs in your pantry, look into Water Bricks. They hold 3.5 gallons each and they fit perfectly under a bed for a nice “out of sight, out of mind” feeling while still allowing you to be ready for anything.

    For me, water storage is a priority because I live in AZ, both because of the heat and the occasional water treatent issues we have here.

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:45 am

      I’ll have to look into water bricks for the remainder of our water storage. Those sound like a great idea. And you’re spot on… financial preparedness is only half of it!

  • Reply Miranda October 2, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    This is such a good idea. I’ve always wanted to do this too, but just haven’t gotten around to it. I think it’s smart to have a good mix of what you already use, along with some ’emergency use only’ stuff that you wouldn’t otherwise need everyday, but would really appreciate having during an emergency. =)

  • Reply Michelle October 2, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    I regularly stockpile: food, personal products, and cleaning items. Without my stockpile I feel very vulnerable (like when I forget to wear my earrings!) I love knowing that I have enough food and hygiene products to last me for quite awhile.

    • Reply Joanna October 17, 2014 at 1:46 am

      Ha! I’m the exact same way with non-food items. I think I have this secret fear of running out of paper towels or something!

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