Gaye Levy, Contributing Writer
The cold days of winter are upon us here in the Pacific Northwest, and whereas we have not seen any snow yet, the temperature is frigid, especially if your factor in the wind chill. Outdoor activities are limited to walks with the dog and not much else.
Preparedness wise, this reminds us that we need to ensure that we have adequate jackets, blankets and warm socks put away in our emergency storage container.
But wait. I am getting ahead of myself as I present Getting Prepared Month 4 of 12 from 12 Months of Prepping, One Month at a Time.
- A Minimum of a 7 day Supply of Critical Prescription Medicines
- $100 (or more) in Small Bills
- Pet Supplies
- Infant Supplies
- Extra Storage Containers
Something often overlooked when putting together emergency supplies is an adequate supply of critical prescription medications. The reason this is often overlooked (or shall I say a victim of procrastination) is that collecting extra meds is darn tough because most insurance policies only allow a thirty-day supply to begin with.
I have a lot of ideas for getting around this – ideas that I use myself. Here are two.
1. Talk to your doctor and request a standalone prescription for a one- or two-week supply of your meds. Take this prescription to a pharmacy different from your regular pharmacy and do not give them your insurance information. Pay for these emergency meds out of pocket.
Don’t be a wienie or a cheapskate about this. Critical medications are going to preserve your health and should not be considered a luxury.
2. Order your medications from a Canadian pharmacy. Do not be afraid of this. Yes, there are some precautions you must take, such as ensuring that the pharmacy is approved by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) but for the most part, this is a safe way to go and you will save major dollars by avoiding the US government and FDA racket with big pharma.
Personally? I have always ordered my prescriptions from a Vancouver BC based online pharmacy. I plan to provide more details in a separate article, but in the meantime if you are interested in the name of the pharmacy I use, please email me privately and I will get back to you with the information in a few days.
So what about some cash?
In great grandma’s day there was the cookie jar. Yes, it was filled with delicious homemade sugar cookies but also, at the very bottom and hidden away, was some cash. It was there for a purpose: that rainy day when something was needed and the weekly budget was shot. In much the same way, you need to put aside at least $100 in small bills for those times when nothing but cash will do. The need could be as simple as paying someone to help you remove a tree that has fallen on your house during a storm, or it could be as drastic as all ATMs being shut down due to a virus hitting the bank you usually deal with.
Whatever your financial condition, try to build up a stockpile of at least $100, even if you have to do this at the rate of $5 per week. Eat pasta for dinner (see Clara’s kitchen) or a bowl of soup. But save up for an emergency. It is important.
The four-legged family members need supplies and gear as well. During this fourth month, pick up some extra pet food, as well as a spare collar and, if appropriate, a leash or harness. Also pack away some baggies or garbage bags for potty-cleanup purposes as well as some disinfectant wipes. And, finally, make sure that you have copies of your pet’s license information, microchip code, immunization records and other information that will be vital in the event you get separated or must leave your home. If for some reason you need to move out of your home and into a shelter, having this information may make or break your ability to take your pet with you.
Get a Free Pet Safety Pack
I also recommend that you order a “Free Pet Safety Pack” from the ASPCA. This kit includes an easy-to-use sticker that will let people know that pets are inside your home. It will identify your pets to rescue workers, and and will include the types and number of pets in your household, the name of your veterinarian and your veterinarian’s phone number.
Tip: If you do evacuate and take your pets with you, write “Evacuated” on the face of the sticker so that rescue workers can move on to help someone else.
Also, I realize that pets are not only of the four-legged, dog and cat variety. If you have birds, gerbils, snakes, lizards or other pets, plan accordingly. Spouses and significant others do not count as pets, however.
Supply-wise, the last thing we need to purchase this month are infant supplies such as baby bottles, formula and diapers. This is pretty self-explanatory, and if you have little ones you know what you need. If anything, go a bit overboard on supplies for your infant or toddler. Remember, they are totally dependent on you and may be confused and upset by the turmoil around them. Now that I think about it, a small teddy bear is a good idea as well.
Now that we have taken care of the supplies and gear, what are the activities for this month? As with every month, there is nothing too difficult or strenuous.
Month 4 Tasks:
- Package your prescription medications in a storage container and date for annual rotation purposes.
- Pack up warm blankets, sleeping bags, socks and other cold weather items.
- Review your storage area and put stray items in containers that are well marked.
With the emphasis on prescription medications this month, I want to stress the importance of proper labeling. This includes not only the name of the drug and dosage, but also the date it was packed for storage.
And, of course, being SurvivalWoman, I have a recommendation: for each family member, pack a single-day supply of whatever is required (including vitamin supplements if that is your thing), in a small baggie. Here is a picture of Survival Husband’s meds:
The 3 x 3 baggies were purchased for just a few dollars (try Ebay, the dollar store or Amazon) and are really, really handy. We do this very same thing for everyday use, packaging up 30 days or more at a time. Plus, think about this. Remember when I talked about purchasing some extra meds? Another option for stockpiling is that you can simply make up 1 or 2 packets with each monthly prescription and set them aside for emergency purposes. At the end of a year you will have a nice little stash. Now how neat is that?
Keeping warm blankets and clothing is pretty much a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how few people remember to include blankets or sleeping bags with their emergency gear. When you think about it, though, these are very practical things to have on hand. If you do have to leave your home – or even if the power goes out or some stranded friend or family member comes to stay – you want to have bedding available, and warm bedding at that. Sleeping bags are perfect for this purpose (even if they are not the most stylish or glamorous option.)
Of course not everyone can go out and spend $50 to $100 or more for a sleeping bag. So, for the short term, consider Mylar sleeping bags that form to the body while retaining 80% of your body heat. These can typically be purchased for about $10 each and are well worth the price.
Bins, Boxes and Garbage Bags
Remember last month when you identified someplace accessible to store your stuff? This month I want you to go have a peek and ask yourself this: Is everything labeled? Is the area nice and tidy? Could you locate a specific item if you were in a hurry?
This month is only month number four, so if you answered “no” to any of these questions, think about the disorganized mess you will have when we get to month twelve. I want you to take a really critical eye to your storage place and think about the best way to tidy things up. Put things in bins – or lacking the funds for nice plastic tubs – use carton boxes that are available for free from the grocery store or a business in your area. Even garbage bags work, especially for soft goods.
The key – and I am a broken record on this point – is to label and then label some more. I like to use self-stick labels and a Sharpie, but in most cases (except for the garbage bags) you can write on the container itself.
Okay so I got a little bit carried away with the storage and organization task. But truly, this is important advice I still need to take myself. Well, not really since I am a bit obsessed with organization which translates into continually taking a sharp eye to my shelves and cupboards so that I can make them tidier. That, plus my obsession with boxes and those plastic bins you get at the dollar store.
The Final Word
If there was some way to wave a magic wand and say abracadabra the prepping is done I would do so. But prepping, like all things worthwhile, does not happen overnight. It takes time to build up the right supplies, and it takes time to tick items off the prepping chore list.
As someone told me a few days ago, “Keep on working if you have a job, but prepare as though you don’t.” I would like to add the following to those words:
Prepare as though a disaster will occur next month, but hope and pray that it never really happens.
For additional info. about preparing for 2012:
10 Things To Do to Survive 2012
Top Survival Articles From 2011 to Help Prepare For 2012
Gaye Levy, the SurvivalWoman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable, self-reliant and stylish lifestyle through emergency preparation and disaster planning through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. SurvivalWoman speaks her mind and delivers her message with optimism and grace, regardless of mayhem swirling around us. Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!