Family

Taking ‘Stock’ of How We Protect Our Families

The smartest parents have a cache of supplies in case of emergency — here's how to get started

“Doomsday Preppers.” “Doomsday Castle.” “Doomsday Bunkers.”

Most of us have seen or heard of at least one of these cable television shows, and many Americans watch them regularly. The prevailing public opinion of the people featured on these shows is quite often negative — they’re either called crazy, or unstable survivalists.

Preparing for emergencies has been always part of human existence. “Saving for a rainy day” and “make hay while the sun shines” are two phrases that we have all heard.

The connotation of the word “prepper” itself is primarily negative. But is it really such a bad thing to be ready for uncertain times?

On Aug. 29, 2005, in New Orleans, Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city and surrounding areas, and entire neighborhoods were cut off from the outside world. We watched on 24-hour news networks as the region devolved into chaos and a competition for resources.

Eventually government agencies arrived, bringing supplies, food, water. What if that government help was delayed longer, was incapable of providing the supplies and security necessary, or never arrived at all?

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People living in New Orleans could not have survived much longer with such limited resources. The people of Southern Louisiana had a few days’ warning, but either ignored them or were unable to leave the area. It is hard to think of how bad it would have been had there been no warning.

Related: Incredible Rescues from the Flood Waters

“Prepping,” or preparing for emergencies, has been always part of human existence. “Saving for a rainy day” and “make hay while the sun shines” are two phrases that we have all heard. They are reflective of an ingrained thought process in humans to look ahead, to prepare. Many of us had grandmothers who pickled and canned food, and those over the age of 40 probably remember grandparents keeping cash or silver or gold in the house because they didn’t trust banks.

It seems only sensible — not “crazy,” to have some long-term storage of food and water. Many people carry a gun or have one in their home “just in case” it is needed. While I agree with this thinking, a gun will not feed a family or quench their thirst in a time of crisis.

There are thousands of items that we could stock up on, but not everyone has the resources or storage space, so we must make choices. In today’s society, most emergencies or crises last only a few days before trucks come rolling into town with necessities. Just having a couple of cases of bottled water in the basement and a case of Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MRE’s) should suffice for a small family for a short period of time.

If you or a family member take medicine needed to survive, is there extra medication if the pharmacies run out, or don’t open? Do you have extra oxygen tanks for family members who use them? This is an important consideration.

Have the foresight to think about what would happen if the government couldn’t “save the day.” What if there was a regional or national crisis that stretched government resources too thin to reach you? The people on the shows mentioned may just be ahead of the power curve.

You must obviously work within your means, but here are the basic supplies you should have on hand, according to the Red Cross website:

  • water
  • food
  • medications
  • radio
  • first aid kit
  • personal documents
  • contact info
  • map
  • money
  • clothing
  • sanitary supplies
  • pet supplies
  • tools

While it’s a long list, you probably already own much of what’s on it. If you don’t have a lot of extra cash to invest in supplies, consider buying a few extra items every trip to the grocery store. The priority should be a few gallons/cases of bottled water, or a water filter. If buying water, stock up on store brands or sale items. Water filters are very affordable — even some of the better-rated ones. Ensure that you do your research, and continue working your way down the list.

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After a few months, you should have a nice cushion of survival items for your family in the event of a small unforeseen event. Re-evaluate your supply every three to four months and focus the next few trips on what you need to extend your family’s kit.

Eventually, you may find yourself satisfied with what you have stocked at home. At that point, seek advice online and start a rotation of any canned goods, bottled water, batteries or degradable filters to keep things fresh.

Preparing is not a sign of paranoia or fear. It acknowledges that we cannot control or predict the future.

With that bit of effort, you should be able to rest a little more easily, knowing that you have an emergency plan for your family. You may continue to grow your stores and plans, but even if not, you have taken your first steps in your mindset towards the possibilities of “What if…?”

If you look to science for your answers, then we have evolved from survivors — the strongest, smartest, or some combination of both survive. Our genetic lineage has gotten us, as a species, to this point. It’s only logical to want to continue that.

If you believe in the biblical version of human history, we were made in God’s likeness and bear the responsibility to provide for our families. Although we are told to trust that God will provide, there is also our belief in trials and tribulations. God gave us the sense to plan ahead. Honor him by doing so.

Preparing is not a sign of paranoia or fear. It is only an acknowledgment that we cannot control or predict the future.

John Cylc is an eight-year U.S. Army veteran and lives with his family in eastern Tennessee. His primary advocacy is promoting and protecting Second Amendment rights.

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