Of the many (mostly lame) excuses I hear for not prepping, one of the most common is that it takes too much time. Now I won’t mislead you. There is some time involved. It also takes some thought, some effort, some planning and some expense. But there are plenty of things you can do that will get you going in your preparations, that won’t take up much time. This week’s column will give you some simple tips that take little time but are invaluable in the event of a disaster.
Tip #1 Purchase a notebook for accumulating information, phone numbers, insurance policies, and the like for reference in case of an emergency. Either that or store your information “on the cloud” and you can access it from any computer. Just remember that in a disaster, you may not be able to get online.
Tip #2 Wash out some empty juice jugs. Swish a bit of bleach, rinse and fill with water for an emergency. Be sure to date them and refill after a year. Another idea is to put some of these (not quite full) in your freezer so when you lose power you can transfer certain items to an ice chest and the frozen jugs will keep things cool for a few days. Then when the ice melts, you can still drink the water.
Tip #3 Place a plastic garbage bag under your bed containing, shoes, socks, work gloves, and a flashlight with batteries (or light sticks). If you wish to include a pair of jeans and sweatshirt, that’s always a good idea in case you have to leave your house quickly. Some folks tie them to the leg of their bed so it doesn’t get misplaced.
Tip #4 Discuss with the rest of the family where you will meet up after a disaster. Pick three or four locations and play “what if.” Cell phones may not be working and communication can be limited and getting re-connected with loved ones is vital after a disaster.
Tip #5 Choose an out-of-state relative with whom you can relay messages if necessary. Often it is easier to get a message out-of-state than it is to get connected locally.
Tip #6 Introduce yourself to a neighbor you have not met. Exchange phone numbers. Don’t worry about what he might think. He’s probably been wanting to meet you anyway. That guy may just be your first responder in an emergency.
Tip #7 Purchase a manual can opener on your next visit to the store. Try one made by Swing-A-Way. The long crank handle makes it easy to crank open cans, even big ones.
Tip #8 Check out the website at FoodSafety.gov. Print off the food safety charts and attach them to the inside of a cupboard door. They will tell you how long you can safely store certain foods without refrigeration.
Tip #9 Mark your canned goods as you purchase to remind you to rotate them out one year from now.
Tip #10 Pick up a few extra canned goods each time you visit the grocery store.
Tip #11 Locate your utility shut-off valves and review the instructions for turning them off. Affix a shut-off tool nearby.
Tip #12 Test your smoke alarms.
Individually these tips take very little time. So set aside five minutes each day and start checking off items on your list. The list will continue next week but if you have any suggestions or questions you may email me at email@example.com. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.