I have a clear childhood memory of the occasion my parents held a family meeting to discuss emergency preparedness. Almost as soon as the discussion started it ended due to my becoming hysterical as soon as a potential emergency was mentioned.

I can't say things have changed much. I admit to crying when I sign life insurance papers, or turning off the news when there are reports of earthquakes, and I feel mild anxiety whenever a meeting discusses emergency plans.

Believe it or not, there are a couple of valuable lessons I have learned as I have done my best to prepare myself and my family for an emergency, should one occur.

Prepare in General

Six months into marriage, found me in the peak of canning season. Following the example of my mother and grandmother, I found myself stopping at fruit stands. Before long, I had pantry shelves lined with all sorts of bottled fruits and vegetables. Though there are only a couple of items I, now, can myself, I think back to that first winter season and the stocked pantry shelves as the beginning of my efforts to store extra food.

With five young mouths to feed, there has not always been extra money in our grocery budget to buy a lot of extra. But with careful planning, shopping sales and wise choices, our food supply slowly grew.

Almost two years ago, we reaped the benefits of those general preparations. For several months, we relied on what was in our pantry and freezer. Due to a brief period of unemployment, and with no income coming in, trips to the grocery store were rare. Yet, we never went hungry. We never ran out of food.

Lesson learned? Just prepare. Don't specifically plan around one event. I realized all the wasted energy (and stress!) I spent wondering what to store for what kind of disaster was needless. When we needed our stocked shelves the most, there was no inability to heat or prepare food, nor a lack of shelter or warmth. We had temporarily lost the ability to purchasefood. What a blessing it was to have some stored.

A Peace of Mind

In January 2010, an earthquake struck Haiti. Despite it being thousands of miles away from me, I felt anxiety for days as I reflected on my own lack of preparations should such an event happen closer. I spent days justifying my lack of 72-hour kit preparations as being fruitless should they become crushed under a crumbled house. Instead of taking any action, I quit watching the news reports.

A month later, a major earthquake struck Chile. The next day, I pulled out a 2-person 72 hour kit we'd received a few years previously, and made a list of what I needed to expand it to meet the needs of my family. I spent 2 days buying and organizing essential items to keep 7 people alive should an emergency strike. That night, I watched news coverage of the devastation in Chile, and I felt a peace of mind.

I wish I could say I included in those kits every possible item needed in an emergency, but I didn't. Even as I write this, I know there are no extra set of clothes for anyone included in them, and I'm quite certain the food has expired. (Mental note to add that to my to-do list.)

I wish I could say I feel no anxiety about the topic of being prepared, but I can't. I'll admit I got a racing heart recently when reading an ariticle about preparing a family for an emergency. I spent the remainder of the day feeling uneasy as I thought about all the things I don't have ready.

But there are a lot of things I do have stored ready to use should a need arise, and when I think of those things, I feel a peace of mind.

I may not have a basement full of wheat, or a years supply of rice, but I have come to know and understand that putting at least some thought and effort into a few emergency preparations give me a certain peace of mind.

That has to count for something.

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