Gaye Levy, Contributing Writer
As the cold months of winter start to abate, it is easy to turn our thoughts away from preparedness and instead to the springtime pursuits of gardening or simply getting outside and playing in the sunshine.
Perhaps you have a bicycle that has become dusty during the colder periods, or walking shoes that have been sitting idle in the closet. Before I move on to the specific tasks and goals for month six, I want to remind you that all of these outdoor pursuits are indeed a part of your preparedness journey.
This year, more than any, is the time to start a small vegetable garden so that you can teach yourself the basics of working the soil, planting the seeds, and enjoying the bounty of homegrown food. The skills you hone now will go a long way toward feeding yourself and your family should there ever be a major disruption in the food supply chain. Just remember to start small and expect some mistakes and failures along the way. The results with be worth it.
And what about getting outside, taking a walk or hike, or perhaps a bike ride? Fitness is also an important aspect of preparedness so yes, go ahead and enjoy the sunshine. Make it fun and get fit. I do not need to tell you this because you already know it: a healthy and fit body will help you sustain the physical and emotional toll of a crisis.
So with that, let us get started on getting prepared month number 6.
Month 6 – Supplies and Gear:
- Energy or protein bars – 1 per person
- 6 rolls of paper towels
- N95 or N100 face masks – 1 per person
There are tow things we all need when our personal lives go upside down, and that is instant gratification and instant energy. Whereas a candy bar may be the treat of choice, you are far better served by having a high-quality, high-fiber, protein or energy bar. My personal favorites are Kashi bars, but there are lots of other great choices available.
Whatever you choose, avoid bars with partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and an ingredient list that looks like a chemical factory. Things to look for are real fruits and nuts and sweeteners such a honey. Shoot for 6 to 8 grams of protein and at least 4 grams of fiber and you will know you have a quality bar that can substitute for a portable and transportable meal or snack. Pick up at least one per person – more if you can afford it.
A few months back we added personal items to our kit (such as TP). This month we add some paper towels as well. Normally I am not a big fan of paper towels, since they are wasteful and can be expensive when used constantly. I actually know some people that go through a roll of paper towels every other day.
Instead of paper towels, I prefer to use rags and especially my beloved magic rags. But in an emergency situation, the luxury of washing facilities may not be available, and paper towels can serve many useful purposes. In addition to general cleanup, they can be used as paper napkins or place mats while eating in less-than-sanitary conditions, as a filter to remove sediment before purifying water, as a coffee filter, as a make-shift gauze bandage and more.
As much as I hate the wastefulness, get yourself a half dozen rolls of paper towels and add them to your kit this month.
The last item to be added to your kit in month 6 are face masks. These are also called “respirators”. You will find that most preparedness pros will recommend N95 masks. These masks are readily available at a reasonable cost and can be used in a variety of situations. And they are good to have because they will protect you from spreading your own germs (and disease), as well as from inhaling contaminated and harmful air, vapors, dusts, fumes and gases.
Note: The ‘N95’ designation means the mask/respirator blocks at least 95% of very small test particles. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of face masks. However, even a properly fitted N95 respirator does not completely eliminate the risk of illness or death.
N95 masks are relatively inexpensive (you can purchase 4 for about $13), but for much greater protection, N100 masks are better. the N100 filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles versus 95% for the N95. Furthermore, most are far more adjustable for a good fit and come in a variety of sizes. The cost is about $15 for 2 masks.
The entire matter of using masks for protection from foul, dirty or contaminated air is beyond the scope of this article; and while this is not medical advice, it only makes good sense to provide a layer of protection between your lungs and harmful or disease-ridden air particles.
Month 6 Tasks:
- Check on your stored water supply (from month 1). Replace expired water that you have bottled yourself with a fresh supply.
- Wear glasses? Add a pair of eyeglasses or inexpensive readers to your emergency kit.
- Find out about your workplace disaster plans and the disaster plans at your children’s schools
Remember that water we stored away in month 1? Depending on your storage method, you may need to rotate your supply and replenish with freshly bottled water. I say this because for many, to save money, water has been stored in well-cleaned and sanitized plastic bottles or other re-purposed containers. And make no mistake, this is a perfectly acceptable way to store water as long as you set up a rotation program. You did mark the date on those containers with a Sharpie or other marker, correct?
Now if you stored commercially bottled water, you are okay for now and can wait another six months or even longer if the bottles have been stored in a cool, dark area.
And just a reminder: use 3 to 5 drops of fresh (meaning not old), unscented bleach per quart or liter of water that is being set aside for storage purposes. Another hint? Store the filled bottles in your unused freezer space. A freezer runs more efficiently when full, plus, the frozen water will help keep the goods frozen for a longer period in the event of a power outage.
Have you even broken or misplaced your eyeglasses? (And quite coincidentally, I shattered the lenses on my own glasses today. Luckily I also wear contact lenses.) If you have, you know what it is like to be unable to see. Imagine there has been a disaster in your area and you need to evacuate quickly. You grab the kids, the pets, your go-bag and first aid kit. Then your glasses fall off and break.
If you already have some extra eyeglasses (even older ones that are not quite “perfect”) now is the time to add them to your kit. If you can get by with just reading glasses, pick up a pair for each family member. You can get them for as little as $3 or $4 a pair (try Ebay), but if you find you need them, their value will be priceless.
Knowledge is free and can make the ultimate difference
The final task this month is to go back into planning mode. If you work outside the home, ask your employer whether they have a disaster plan. Learn about the emergency exits in your building and go there! Don’t trust your life on a diagram that you look at once then file away. Follow the path to escape. Better yet, find two or three alternate routes as well.
If there is no plan? Suggest to your HR department that they take some basic steps to ensure the safety of their employees in a disaster and, if necessary, volunteer to help them set up such a plan.
Contact your children’s school or day care center and become familiar with their disaster response policies. Be sure to establish a back-up plan so that someone is available to pick up and/or care for the kiddos if you are unable to do so. A good idea would be to have the backup person check on them, regardless, just to be sure. You can find more information on this important topic in my article 12 Preparedness Tips for Families with Children.
The Final Word
Your prepping job this month will not take a lot of time or money, but that does not diminish its importance. Like a well-tuned orchestra, each string, each reed, and each brass horn adds to the symphony, making it better as each component is added to the mix. And so it is with each task you complete and each skill you learn as you progress along the path of self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
The final takeaway for this month is that in addition to the items listed, go outside and embrace the emergence of springtime (in the northern hemisphere) or fall (in the southern hemisphere). Take some time to smell the roses and make every day a great day.
Previous articles in this series:
Month 1: Supplies, Gear and Tasks to Get You Started
Month 2: First Aid, Personal Hygiene and Home Safety
Month 3: Special Foods, Fire Drills and Home Safety
Month 4: Prescription Medicine, Cash, and Things to Keep Us Warm
Month 5: Sanitation Supplies and Establishing a Community of Like-Minded Folks
Read other articles by Gaye Levy here.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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.