It’s easy to get distracted when there is a large task to be completed. Preparedness is one of those tasks for me. Mainly because it’s a task that in many ways has no end.
We first realized that we were woefully unprepared for things like natural disasters several years ago when a major storm hit the Pacific Northwest (where we lived at the time) and wiped out our power for five days. That power outage and the accompanying activities stirred us to be prepared for similar future events. When the lights went out on that Sunday we soon found ourselves with no power, no phones, no news, and no way out of our community. That was certainly an eye opening experience!
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We didn’t start on preparedness methods right away, I started researching things and implementing small measures but Joe wasn’t entirely on board. Then we had a stint of living in our camp trailer (when our house sold quicker than we expected and we weren’t ready to move here) which put lots of things on hold. Once we settled here I was in favor of going ‘all out’ and loading up on water, food, and off-grid supplies. Joe wasn’t quite as enthusiastic. So I reigned in my excitement and proceeded at a pace we were both comfortable with. Then one day, Joe came home from work and said he was ready to go all in on preparedness. He’d been listening to a radio program that woke him up to the need to plan for the unknown.
We went all out for several months. We focused our efforts on water and food storage but also other categories of preparedness like alternative lighting, alternative heating, 72 hour bags, and family meeting plans.
During this time we built up a nice pantry, stored a decent amount of water, put together alternative light and heating plans and *sort of* completed assembly of 72 hour bags and put family plans in place. And then the nice weather arrived and it was time to focus on outdoor activities.
While gardening and animal husbandry certainly fall into the category of preparedness we should have continued to work on the other categories also. Because we lost our focus. We deviated a bit from the plan we had in place due to losing our focus and that’s cost us. The cost has mainly been in money when we’ve either accidentally duplicated a purchase or in the case of food didn’t pay attention to expiration dates. And I don’t just mean the dates of things already in our storage. In a hurry one day I purchased a few canned goods to keep in our Heat and Eat Bin. Instead of putting them in the bin where they belonged, I put them on a shelf to take care of later. When finally going through the bin to organize it, at a much later date, those products were already expired. If I would have stayed focused on the task I would have either remembered to check the dates in the store or put the cans away in the proper place as soon as I got them home — then I could have returned the products to the store and got my money back.
Also by not staying focused we’ve let some of our food storage deplete without replenishing. Joe was the first to notice this when he went looking for another bucket of oatmeal and didn’t find any. I was surprised that we were out since we’d had so much. Then I looked at my records and it had been over a year since we’d purchased. Turns out the amount we bought was a good amount for a one year supply of oats and that was great, but running out defeats the purpose of keeping a one year supply on hand.
After that we had a bit of a meeting and agreed that we’d need to make an effort to stay focused on preparedness. Here are a few things that are helping us:
1. Keep Things Organized
We made a few duplicate purchases because we couldn’t find things. One of us had thought we’d already purchased those items, the other wasn’t sure and since it was missing it was bought again. Organization would have prevented that. Shelves have been very helpful for being organized. Our house doesn’t have much closet space but by putting in wire free standing shelves and covering them with a curtain we have created wonderful storage that is easy to keep organized. I also pay attention to how much of something we have so we don’t run out. Since we eat from our food storage, as opposed to keeping it locked up for an emergency, paying attention to the supply is essential.
2. Keep Moving Forward
I’ve talked before about my love of To Do lists. I now utilize my to do list to help with our preparedness efforts. Sometimes the preparedness activity will be purchasing something but often it’s education of some sort. In many cases education/knowledge is free other than the cost of our time so this works well when money is short. The act of writing things down is also very helpful for staying focused. Another thing that we’re trying this year is to set goals for preparedness. The goals that we write also trickle down to To Do lists so they work hand in hand.
3. Remember Your Motivation
A several day power outage was our original motivation. I’m often reminded of this whenever the lights flicker or go out now. Joe was motivated by the state of our economy and the world events. It’s easy to turn on any news or internet newsfeed and be reminded of those motivators. Unemployment is still high in many areas, their assorted military aggression going on through out the world and more. One other thing that really helps me with my motivation might sound a little silly but it is through books. I like to read and have several favorites. Some of my favorites a books about pioneers. Reading these really get my preparedness juices flowing. I enjoy the early books of the Red River series by Lauraine Snelling and also ‘true stories’ such as Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart which is often free for Kindle from Amazon. A few years ago I also discovered that I enjoy books that are post-apocalyptic. Not all books in this category but several. My first experience with this genre was when my daughter brought home a library book and said I needed to read it. Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is the story of a teenage girl, her family and their life after the moon gets knocked out of it’s orbit. After Lulu read this book she became VERY interested in our preparedness activities. I’ve read this book several times and often turn to it when I’m needing a little ‘prepping inspiration’. It’s not really a book of practical tips but does make me think and scares me a little bit in the process. Another book that is scary, because it seems so real, is One Second After by William R. Forstchen. I’ve read from many others that this book completely changed the way they prepared. It was certainly a very eye opening book. That said, there are many parts of it that I don’t particularly like but overall it’s a good one. Another good one is Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. This one I really enjoyed. It’s set in the 1950’s and deals with life after nuclear war for one small town.
Preparedness is a Lifestyle
Preparedness is important to us. Preparedness can help us weather any storm whether it is an actual storm, a job loss or something completely unexpected. Staying focused on preparedness is necessary in order to be as ready as possible when that storm arrives. Learning to adopt an attitude of preparedness as a lifestyle is probably the best way for us to stay focused.
Is preparedness important to you? How do you stay focused?