COVID-19 caught us off guard. Here’s what disaster preparedness says we had to do all along

For three months, Jonathan and Kylene Jones did not set foot in a grocery store. They relied on supplies from the built-in storage room of their Utah home: flour, rice, beans, a freezer full of food.

It was last summer.

The couple, founders of ‘The Provident Prepper’ website and YouTube channel, wanted to do a 90-day trial to survive solely on their food storage and garden. Barter and barter was allowed — their children once hauled hay for a nearby farmer in exchange for a Subway sandwich — but they couldn’t go grocery shopping. These were the rules.

So when the coronavirus erupted in March, emptying grocery stores and turning others into hoarders overnight, Kylene and Jonathan Jones relaxed.

“When this pandemic hit, we had already been through it,” said Kylene Jones, 55. “There was this great sense of peace that taught us that we are fine, we can do this.”

The Joneses recognize that very few people have the patience or the time to go through an experience like theirs.

But various people who prioritize preparation say most people can and should have supplies and plans to get them through several days. It’s doable without entertaining conspiracy theories or spending a fortune on special tools and supplies.

Here’s how to start.

think about it

Yes, it can seem strange or unnerving to imagine worst-case scenarios. But thinking about possible disasters — especially now that we can contemplate one — is key to being prepared and having peace of mind, said Ontario Fire Chief Administrative Officer Jordan Villwock.

“While it’s not fun to think about, it’s always better when an incident happens that you’re prepared,” Villwock said. “Hope is not a good contingency plan.”

Florida receives hurricanes. In the Midwest, tornadoes. California is blessed with earthquakes, wildfires and mudslides. Get to know the specific vulnerabilities in your region. Do you live on a fault line? Is your beachfront property likely to be affected by a tsunami? Consult your local jurisdiction’s risk mitigation plan, which should detail threats specific to your area, recommends Villwock.

While you’re there, research your neighborhood’s evacuation routes – include routes with blue “evacuation” signs as well as little-known streets that might come in handy if major thoroughfares are blocked. Find routes that do not use bridges or roads crossed by bridges. Know how to get out in case of emergency.

Plan communication

Sit down with your family, roommates or neighbors and chat. Decide on a meeting place in your neighborhood and a more distant one, if it’s not safe to stay near you. Agree on an out-of-state contact who can act as an intermediary to help relay the information. Memorize and write down this person’s contact information.

“Some people are reluctant to give their children scary information, but I think it can be done in a non-threatening way,” said Jonathan Jones, 60. “It really allows them to look at a situation and say, ‘OK, here’s what we’ve already done and we can think about it.

Also note your medical insurance, doctors’ contact details, and any other health conditions (including allergies).

Many jurisdictions now have the ability to send messages via Amber Alerts _ remember your cell phone ringing the various curfew alerts? Individual cities and counties often have their own emergency alert systems. Register on your city’s website. You should also follow the social media of your local government, police and fire department, who are often the first to sound the alarm about an emergency near you.

Prepare to leave

Experienced preppers often have several different supply stores. Call it what you want – a carry bag, bug sack, 72 hour supplies or basic prep kit – it should be ready to go anytime. Think of the Campfire of 2018, a deadly wildfire that tore through the northern California town of Paradise in minutes.

Ready.gov, the federal preparedness website, advises you to pack your bag with the basic supplies we’re all used to by now — hand sanitizer, face masks and gloves — and some we’re not — a radio AM/FM hand crank, flashlight, cell phone charger, extra batteries, whistle, utility tool, blanket, personal hygiene kit, water bottles, and at least three days non-perishable food.

Villwock also recommends keeping cash in small denominations in your bag, along with paper maps of your town.

“Think of what life would be like if you found places and you didn’t have Google Maps anymore,” he said. “How would you move? »

Don’t forget a first aid kit, which should contain supplies to treat an immediate injury and to keep you going for a few hours if you can’t get medical help quickly. Villwock recommends bandages, ointment, antiseptic wipes, an ice pack, tweezers and tape.

Once you know the basics, customize. If you have children, add enough supplies for them as well. If you live in a cold climate, pack a sweater, hat or boots. Maybe you need medication for anxiety.

“Treat things based on what’s going to kill you or get you into the biggest trouble fastest,” said Dan Baird, founder and chief instructor of California Survival School. “Make sure you have your first aid needs and your basic health and safety needs first.”

Keep your bag somewhere easily accessible, like your car, locker room, or garage. “You don’t want it buried deep in the closet in the middle of the house,” Baird said. If you keep the bag in your car, maybe add some glow sticks so people can see you if you get stuck on the side of the road overnight.

Some experienced survivors include other tools, ranging from cooking utensils to things like the “doomsday axe”. But Villwock warned against getting caught up in all forward supplies.

“Having all these tools and blankets… is going to make it more comfortable during the disaster,” Villwock said. “When you have reusable plates, can openers, tape and cotton swabs, yes, all of that will come in handy, if needed. But 72 hours I could probably do without a cotton swab, you know .

Prepare the house

By now, we’re probably all used to having a few extra cans of pasta or cans of beans in our pantry. But what do we really need in a home supply?

Preparers recommend plenty of non-perishable foods and at least a gallon of water per person per day. You will also need a backup of your medications and basic household tools. Frozen foods are good too, but they can spoil quickly during a power outage.

How long should the supplies last? Three weeks, three months or a year, depending on which preparer you request. You will need to decide what length is right for you.

Once you’ve done that, they advise you to buy a little more from your regular grocery list each week until you’re stocked up. Don’t waste money on items you never use, Baird said. Rotate items, keeping the shelf life of your supply fresh.

“Take your spaghetti, take your mac and cheese, take your oatmeal,” Baird said. “Take what you already like to eat.”

The Joneses agreed. During their 90-day survival trial, they learned that they had packed too much tuna for their liking, but not enough cat food. They fed the tuna to the cats and adjusted their shopping list for the future. Also, Kylene Jones realized they needed more chocolate.

Where to keep everything? Don’t be afraid to do some spring cleaning to maximize the space in your pantry or closet. So be creative. In addition to a storage room on their 1.5 acres, the Joneses make use of the empty space under their bed.

“We recognize that a lot of people can’t have this, or it’s not practical, but whatever space you have you can make it usable,” Jonathan Jones said.

Don’t be overwhelmed

If you’re stressed about imagining the next disaster and the prospect of preparing for it seems over the top, stop and breathe. Think of preparing as the opposite of hoarding – prepare while you’re in a calm state of mind so you don’t have to panic later.

Prepping is also a form of community care, the Joneses said. Planning ahead means there are no last-minute trips to the store for supplies, driving away other people in need.

“A big part of why people don’t prepare is because it feels overwhelming until you break it down,” Jonathan Jones said. “When you break it down into small, manageable pieces, then it’s doable, then you can make real progress. And then what comes with that is a lot of peace of mind.

So think ahead. Keep it simple. And don’t store toilet paper.

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