“Preparedness” means “readiness”. Each day we are faced with challenges – weather conditions, injuries, power outages, water contamination, job loss – you never know what life will bring. If you have skills and materials on hand to deal with these challenges, things tend to go more smoothly. Your preps don't need to be elaborate like those “doomsday” shows. The best options are those that you incorporate into your daily life, not things you stick on a shelf and never use.
These articles will help you prepare for everyday emergencies – food and water, emergency power, cold weather, health, first aid and more.
Cold Weather Preparedness
I've lived in one part of Wisconsin or another for all of my life, so I know snow and cold weather. The worst snowfall I was caught in was the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 up in Superior. We received just under 3 feet of snow over Halloween weekend, and the drifts were up to 10 feet deep. We had some Big Snow years when I was a little girl, too, and the winter of 2013-2014 was one of record cold and snow. Our Cold Weather Preparedness posts on the site hit key areas – keeping you warm, your vehicle functional, the house warm and the driveway clear.
Preparedness – Water
Water is life. The general rule of thumb is 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food – but in reality, it depends on conditions. Individuals have survived 8-10 days without water, but those cases are rare. Water storage and filtration isn't just for extreme emergencies, either. It's rare now that a day goes by where we don't have news about another water supply getting contaminated. Get your water tested and get a filtration option in place, if needed, for daily use, and have a filtration option available for emergencies.
Preparedness – Food
Stressful conditions such as exposure or exertion burn extra calories, so a good meal can go a long way to improve moral and function. During World War II, my grandparents (and mother and uncles) ate well because they had a farm and could raise most of their own food. When my husband lost his job, I knew we would still have plenty to eat because we keep a well stocked pantry and root cellar. I have yet to see any significant, sustained downward trend for food prices, so I consider our food storage an investment against rising food prices.
Food Storage and Prep
Root Cellars 101 – Root Cellar Design and Use – Optimal Storage Conditions for Over 30 Fruits and Vegetables That Store Without Processing
Above Ground Root Cellars – Options for Warm and Cold Climates to Enjoy Local Produce Year Round
Unconventional Emergency Food
Be sure to check out the Homesteading page for basics on self-reliance, gardening, food preserving, raising animals and more.
Preparedness – Power and Light
While water, food and shelter are primary, it's tough to get many things done without power and light. Our electric grid is aging, and is vulnerable to acts of nature and cyber attacks. Frankly, I'm surprised we don't have more brownouts and blackouts than we do. Whether you're hit with a power outage, getting in some camping or stuck by the side of the road with a flat, we have posts that cover a number of options for emergency power and light.
Preparedness – First Aid and Hygiene
Keep a well stocked first aid kit and learn how to use pantry and garden items for wound care. The more you know about how to handle basic emergencies, the easier it will be for you to help when disaster strikes. Many organizations offer training at low or no cost, so keep an eye out for those opportunities.
Many of the other posts do apply during storm warnings, but these are specifically storm focused.
Whether you shelter in place or need to evacuate when trouble strikes, having a plan can help you get through whatever life throws at you. How likely is an emergency? Check out the odds below. Where do you get started and how can you make preparedness a part of your lifestyle? See how our grandparents made common sense choices to take care of their families. Plan, don't panic.
Bugging Out/ Evacuation
Cold and Flu Remedies
The CDC states that, “The annual direct costs, such as hospital and doctor’s office visits, medications, of influenza (flu) in the United States are an estimated $4.6 billion. The flu causes U.S. workers to lose up to 111 million workdays at an estimated $7 billion a year in sick days and lost productivity.”
There's no magic cure for the flu or common cold, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of transmission and duration of symptoms.
Natural Remedies for Colds and Flu to Help You Feel Better Faster – summary of all our cold and flu related posts
Wildcrafting and Herbs
Many common weeds have a long history of use for food and medicine. If you'd like to learn more, visit the Herbs and Wildcrafting page.
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Originally posted in 2012, last updated in 2018.