Preparing for an Emergency

Winter is coming and it is important for us to prepare for such things as huge snowstorms, ice storms, loss of power and all kinds of natural weather problems. Are you ready?  Here are a few things that should be at the very top of your list – this list could (and should) be a lot longer but these are the absolute essentials you need to put in place.

There is no reason for you to join those long lines of people emptying supermarket shelves – these are the folks who have FAILED TO PLAN. Don’t be that person!

Preparing for an Emergency



Candles are one of the simplest but most crucial supplies you can have. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, power was lost in an astonishing 8.1 million homes as the storm ripped down power lines, flooded electrical networks, and even caused an explosion at a substation. Power outages are common to all disasters and, after being plunged into darkness, the glow of a candle is one of the first things you need to get other emergency measures put into place.

Of course, you will also need a supply of matches, or a lighter. You don’t want to be hunting for these in the dark, so keep them with the candles, somewhere easily accessible. Have a pack of 50 small tealight candles which you can place at different points around the house, as well as longer ones, for which you will also need candlestick holders.

Make sure your candle bases are wide and heavy enough that they don’t tip over. And of course, be sure to never place the candles near curtains or any flammable material.


Hand Crank Lantern

Have you bought a windup lantern? These are great to have on hand, they are inexpensive and if you have kids, they never seem to mind cranking the handle to keep the lantern bright!



Your next concern may well be your water supply. Contamination of water supplies is common in serious disaster events, and shops may be inaccessible. To be safe, you should always have a supply of bottled water – 20 to 30 two-liter bottles is not too much to have on hand. Remember, if there is no water coming from the faucets, you may also be reliant on boiling  water to cook with.



Given that electricity will be down, a small propane stove is an essential item to have. These can be picked up inexpensively from camping or outdoor stores, but you should make sure you have the correct size of propane cylinders to fit. If you are unable to boil the kettle or heat water on the cooker, you will quickly realize how important a hot drink such as tea or coffee is to calm the nerves during the stress of an emergency situation.




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Are you a mother with children at home. Your first instinct will be to ensure your children don’t go hungry. For that reason, it’s always best to keep a stock of non-perishable foods, such as pasta, rice and tins of soup. If your pantry is full with home canned food you can easily provide meals (and know you are all eating healthily, too!)

Frozen pizzas may be easy and popular with kids, but remember you can’t cook them on a stove.



It’s always a good idea to keep your car topped up with fuel. In winter, it is even more important. For one thing, if there is a natural disaster, you KNOW there are going to be huge lineups at the gas stations.

For us, here is another very real reason to keep our vehicles full. We live twenty minutes from the gas station on gravel roads. Much of this twenty minute drive is isolated, meaning there are no or very few homes along the route. Since we get a lot of snow and ice, there is a real possibility that we could slide off the road, either over a bank or more likely, crash into the mounds of snow piled along the road.

A full tank means that as long as the vehicle is still running, we can stay in the car where we can stay warm. Note: If this should happen to you, be SURE that your exhaust pipe is not buried in snow. Use that folding shovel that you need to keep in your car, to dig out around the exhaust pipe!


First aid


First Aid Kit for the Car

Finally, always have a basic first aid kit in your house. In the immediate panic of a natural disaster situation, injuries such as cuts and bruises are common, and may need to be treated.

Prepare like this, and you should be far less likely to panic yourself if the worst happens. There is a great deal of satisfaction and peace of mind when you know you are already prepared for emergencies.



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Do You Have a Back Up Plan? You Should!

We are getting used to hearing about the importance of being prepared. Whether it is a local emergency, weather related or illness, it’s always a good idea to have a stocked pantry at the very least.

Pantry Full of Food

Even better is making sure your family can stay warm inexpensively and has basic lighting needs met. You really can’t expect to be able to have a flashlight on all evening long during a power outage.

be prepared self sufficient, emergency lighting, flashlight

Having a box of candles or a hand crank flashlight is a good idea and they aren’t expensive.  Your little ones will have fun doing the cranking. Get out a board game and huddle around the kitchen table with your family. Turn power outages into fun family time; it can be done. Score bonus points by letting the kids roast marshmallows in a low burning woodstove.

But being prepared may not be enough. It’s important to have a back up plan too. Or a back up to your back up plan, if that makes sense. Always leaving as many options open as possible is important. Sometimes we think we have thought things through and are prepared, only to find that we aren’t. If you are only operating with a flashlight, what happens if you forgot to buy those extra batteries when they were on sale a few weeks ago? Having the flashlight means you are (somewhat) prepared. Forgetting to buy more batteries is a failure of the back up plan.

What if the flashlight craps out? Replace the batteries and it still doesn’t work? That is a failure of your back up plan. Try and think further along the path to be better prepared. Do you need more than one flashlight? Do you have enough batteries? Do you need a couple of flashlights AND a hand crank light?

Thinking along these lines will help you form back up plans, and back up plans for your back up plans. Think things through to figure out what might go wrong and what you will do at that point.

Here’s an example of someone who thought they had a back up plan in place. But now that plan has fallen through, and they are scrambling to find another solution. This could happen to ANY small farmer. I’m not trying to find fault with their system at all. They run a great magazine Small Farm Canada (well worth the subscription cost) and they run a viable small farm. This doesn’t make them immune to problems. We would all do well to learn from what has happened; have a back up for the back up!

So, what’s your back up plan? Check out these products in our Preppers Guide – you will find some items well worth having on hand.