Recently, many Americans faced unexpected emergencies in the form of hurricanes, tornadoes, and forest fires. Some of the outcomes of these natural disasters were just that… disastrous.
One such disaster struck near and dear to the personal finance community. The blogger behind Dads Dollars Debts and his family lost their home to the Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa, CA. Their story is a harrowing tale of emergency evacuation and a total loss of property. While I was relieved to hear his family is safe, my heart goes out to them as they (and many in their community) pick up the pieces and begin to recover from such devastation.
You can read the story of escape and the importance of preparation here on Dads Dollars Debts. Today, I would like to follow up to that story by joining my fellow personal finance bloggers with a post about preparations for an emergency.
Limited Experience with Disaster
I have been very fortunate to be relatively emergency-free. Living in California, I experienced a minor earthquake (just a little shake), flooding, and a few non-life/property threatening forest fires. In Michigan, my “disasters” are even less disastrous… a few blizzards and windstorms.
Risks “Up North”
The risks up north are limited to a pretty short list of potential emergencies.
- Snow Storm
- Wind Storm/Wind Shear (like this one in 2015)
With wind and snow as the most likely disaster to strike our home, we prepare by doing the following.
Our house is on 10 acres and is surrounded by trees. With this in mind, we keep an eye on the trees near the house and will likely remove several in order to limit the potential for a tree falling on our house.
In violent wind storms, I head downstairs to avoid being on the top floor (aka- where a tree would come crashing through!)
While in most epic snowstorms, we would hunker down and stay put, there are plenty of reasons we could need to try to get to town (injury/illness, etc). We own a plow truck to avoid being stranded.
In addition to a plow truck, we are friendly with our neighbors, know their phone numbers, and feel comfortable seeking their help if needed. We also have snowshoes should we need to trek over to reach them for some reason.
Our house is well stocked with tools, flashlights, batteries, knives, shovels, axes, and other useful items.
If we were without power and stranded for several days, one big concern would be warmth. We have a wood stove in our first-floor level. It is not efficient for warming the entire house, but we could certainly campout downstairs and keep warm. In addition, we have many blankets, clothing layers, and warm outer clothes (hats, gloves, winter jackets, snow pants). It would be hard to freeze us!
I keep a good stock of canned items with protein (canned soups), granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, dry cereal, and other items. Without the ability to cook or heat food, I’d wager we could last at least week without getting hungry 🙂
I also have several gallons of water stocked up.
On the car front, there is a risk in our area of getting stranded IN your car in a whiteout blizzard. This would be a much trickier situation since access to food/water/warmth may not be readily available.
As a result, we keep extra hats, gloves, sweatshirts, blankets, diapers, granola bars/snacks and water jugs in our trunks. We also have some basic tools, jumper cables, and flashlights.
We also have winter worthy cars (Subarus!) and make sure they have snow tires on prior to the first snowfall.
I recall one blizzard in high school when my mom, brother and I attempted to drive 20 miles home from a school event. The roads were slick and visibility was a mere foot or two creating treacherous driving conditions. Luckily, we had friends living nearby and they took us in for the night.
I try to keep tabs of who I know in the area and who could be an emergency stop if driving conditions are dire.
General Preparation Resources
Part of our driveway after a relatively “light” snow
Liz at the Chief Mom Officer (Anchor #2 for the chain below) suggested the following list of resources to bookmark and have handy as you prepare for an emergency.
- Ready.Gov – Government site on preparing for natural disasters
- CDC Site on Health and Safety Concerns For All Disasters – Good information on different things to consider for different types of disasters
- Weather.Com Disaster Preparation Tips – Sorry about the slideshow format, but there’s good information here
- Home Evacuation Tips – Good information on how to prepare for an evacuation
- FEMA Evacuation Information – Also good tips on preparing for an evacuation
Emergency Prep Blogger Chain Gang
As I mentioned earlier, this post is part of a “chain gang”, a group of bloggers publishing articles with their take on a certain topic. Please check out the other articles in the gang!
If you are a blogger and would like to join in, please head on over to the Rockstar Finance Forum post.
How do you prepare for emergencies and natural disasters?
Always an Adventure,
Mrs. Adventure Rich