It’s easy to take certain things for granted. (Like electricity, which those in California are discovering all too often now.)
For many of us, our lives are busy--running the kids around, trying to cross off as much as we can on our to-do lists, or facing whatever life throws at us. It may not be until a disaster strikes that we have a moment to reflect and realize how important certain things are, such as access to clean and safe drinking water, food, power and the people and relationships we hold dear to our hearts.
That’s why I love Thanksgiving. This American holiday has always been a good reminder to slow down, think about what’s important, and take steps to acknowledge and preserve those things. Even for those of us who are already preparedness-minded, it’s helpful to review what we can do more of to ensure our safety should disaster strike.
In preparation for Thanksgiving, we’re reviewing six things all of us should be grateful for when disaster strikes. Being mindful of what’s important will only help us better prepare for the worst-case scenarios.
#1: A supply of long-lasting and nutritious food
Ever since the first Thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims and Native Americans back in 1621, there has always been a big emphasis on food during this holiday. There’s no denying that we’re thankful for those delicious servings of stuffing, gravy, and turkey at our Thanksgiving feast. But expressing gratitude for the ability to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a daily basis is the real heart of the matter.
When our access to fresh, nutritious food from our local grocery store becomes compromised during a natural or manmade disaster or we find ourselves stranded somewhere, food of any shape or form makes the difference. Whether it be stocking up on an inventory of nonperishable foods and meals or taking steps to grow and preserve our own supply of food at home, there’s plenty we can do now to ensure we won’t go hungry when disaster strikes.
Take a close look at these maps developed by the University of Illinois. You can see how residents in each county are connected to all other counties in the country via food chains and transfers. Cut off these food supply chains, and well, you're going to wish you prepared a bit better and had food storage standing by, ready. Our food distribution system is frail at best.
#2: Access to clean water
If you think food is the most important item when it comes to survival--think again. While the human body can last up to three weeks without food, we’re only typically able to survive three to four days without water. In our modern world, it’s easy to assume that water will always flow from our taps...until it doesn’t. Earlier this year, we saw images of Venezuelans forced to drink from polluted city rivers when they lost electricity for several weeks. These images are a good reminder that access to drinking water is never fully guaranteed.
I advise you to stock up on a supply of bottled water at home in case you lose access to running water for a few days. Additionally, having access to water at all is one thing--ensuring it’s clean and safe drinking water is another. That’s why having a gravity-powered water filtration system as a backup is smart. According to NRDC, “Unsafe water kills more people each year than war and all other forms of violence combined.” Whether it be a water contamination situation in your local area or getting stranded and needing to purify water from streams and rivers you find, investing in water filtration and purification solutions will be well worth it.
#3: Temperature control
Regulating our surrounding temperature is easy when we have access to fans, air conditioners, and central heating. However, many of our systems of temperature control reply on electricity, fuel, and other resources we may not have access to when disaster strikes. When dealing with decreasing or rising temperatures and a lack of electricity, we’re forced to get creative in generating our own sources of heat and cold.
For heat, it’s advisable to invest in a wood burning stove or kerosene heater and learn how to build your own fire. Additionally, stock up on warm layers of clothing and blankets, as well as feet and hand warmers. Frostbite and hypothermia are no joke, as we saw during the polar vortex last year which killed 21 people and sent dozens to the hospital in critical condition.
If you find yourself out of power during a period of scorching temperatures or stranded in the desert, your worry will be staying cool. Staying hydrated with a supply of water is key, as well as blocking the sun using curtains or a self-constructed shelter.
Something as simple as good lighting is yet another resource we often take for granted--until we no longer have it. Millions of California residents have experienced days without power due to the planned PG&E blackouts this past month.
Imagine navigating your house each and every night, or completing tasks in a room without windows during the daytime. That’s why it’s important to have a backup supply of alternative lighting sources such as flashlights, batteries, candles and matches, and headlamps. I recommend you check out this Solar-Powered Powerbank and LED Light, which not only provides you with a way to see in the dark--it also powers your phones and other devices.
Having a few 100-Hour Emergency Candles on hand also makes sense.
#5: First aid supplies and know-how
Although at times we may feel invincible, our bodies are at risk for injuries and infections that require care and the benefits of modern medicine. If your access to hospitals, doctors, and pharmacies suddenly becomes restricted, are you stocked with the items and know-how to take care of yourself and others?
From reducing fevers to treating wounds, there are numerous possible medical situations you may face during a disaster scenario. If you don’t have the supplies and understanding of basic first aid, there’s no time like the present to stock up and study up. The Natural First Aid Handbook is a terrific resource that shares everything from household remedies to basic emergency preparedness everyone should know.
#6: A supportive community
When the going gets tough, it will be even tougher if you navigate it alone. Collaboration and teamwork are key to survival. Perhaps it’s delegating tasks to various family members, or working out a trade and barter system with neighbors--there are plenty of benefits that come from the support of others. Recently, we’ve seen how communities in Northern and Southern California came together to support neighbors affected by recent wildfires. People helped one another, from providing short-term housing to donating and exchanging supplies. Take the time now to strengthen relationships, express gratitude for them, and get specific about how you’ll work together if and when a potential disaster strikes.
As you gather with family friends, enjoy delicious food, and celebrate the generations of Americans that came before us, don’t forget to take the time to reflect on the little things that make your existence possible. From the food on our plates to the ability to warm and cool off our bodies, there’s a lot we don’t want to ignore or take for granted. You never know what could happen today, tomorrow, or in the coming weeks.
Don’t wait before it’s too late--use the tips and suggestions included here today.
And from all of us here at My Patriot Supply, Happy Thanksgiving!
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply