“Be Prepared” is the motto of every Boy and Cub Scout. This should be the motto of every person, not just Scouts. I’m not talking about becoming one of those crazy “doomsday prepper” people. I’m suggesting we all have plans to make problems easier to deal with. The idea of being prepared is that you have what you need when you have a problem. Thus making your daily life easier and those small emergencies from becoming huge tragedies.
If you have never lived pay check to pay check, or worried how you’ll pay an unexpected bill, then you can skip this section. Unfortunately most people are not independently wealthy. Which brings use to the most common disaster in a person’s life. The unexpected large bill.
The only way to be prepared for unexpected expenses is to have money in savings. Most of use live nearly pay check to pay check. It’s hard to save money when you have debt and consent bills. The first thing you must do it get rid of debt. There are many ways to do this, Dave Ramsey has a whole system. I like the idea of paying debt with the highest interest rate off first. Of course this is done by funneling all extra money you have, into paying off debt.
Most people will suggest having 3 months worth of income in savings. I like the idea of 6 months worth. The reason why I like 6 months worth is because when it rains it pours. Your car may break down and then a few weeks later you lose your job. You’ve already spent 2 months income of fixing your car. With only 1 months income left in savings you don’t have much time to find a job. For whatever reason it’s easy to have an expense that costs close to 2-3 months income giving you nothing left if something else comes up before you save that money again.
I realize it’s not easy to put 1/2 a years income in savings. If it takes you 3-4 years to do so, it’s not so bad. Once you can stop worrying about what will happen if you get sick, or the furnace stops working, your be a lot happier.
Having extra food is the next thing to being prepared. I’m not talking about 55 gallon drums full of rice and MRE’s. You should have a week or two worth of food you regularly eat. Too many people have just enough food in their home for one or two meals. This leads to the rush of supermarket shoppers right before that big storm. Leads to buying over priced food you wouldn’t eat otherwise. If you have a few weeks worth of food you don’t have to make the mad dash to the store with everyone else before a storm.
To get two or more weeks worth of food in your house without breaking the bank, keep track of what you eat for a few weeks. Take that list to the store with you and make sure you by 2 weeks worth of one item each time you go to the store. Before you know it you will have 2 or more weeks worth of food you normally eat.
Once you have a few weeks worth of food in your house you can decide if you feel you should have more. I suggest you be careful when plaining on storing food for more than a few weeks that it won’t go bad before you eat it. Don’t waste food by letting it go bad before you eat it.
Energy and Comfort
There is so much information about having electricity when the power is out I couldn’t begin to cover it all. I’m going to suggest you go to Steven Harris for this. Steven’s Solar1234 site will teach you how to power you house using your car and a power inverter, how to set up a battery bank, and basically how to make sure you don’t have to worry if you loss power in your house for any length of time. Steven’s other pages go into so much information on being prepared I couldn’t begin to cover it all.
Along with having energy for you power going out, there are a few other things you should have to stay comfortable. I suggest you have some sort of space heater if nothing else for if you furnace stops working. If you have a fireplace, make sure you have the chimney cleaned once a year. Make sure you know how to use your fireplace. When you need heat is not the time to learn you can’t start a fire.
For summer time it’s best to have a couple of fans around the house. If your air conditioning stops working some air flow is better than nothing. I keep a couple of box fans for spring I can open windows at night to cool off my house and not use my AC.
In Boys Scouts be prepared means you have the skills and equipment to take care of yourself, when camping. To everyone else it means you have enough skills and equipment to stay comfortable and happy during that same times others are stressed and worried. All of the things mentioned in this post are just a starting point to help others. You must figure out what emergencies you are most likely to face and plan for them. I doubt the person who lives in Alaska is too worried about their AC not working. I’m not worried about Hurricanes but tornados are a different story. Just remember the three basics Food, Water, Shelter and then add the things that make these better.