Disaster. Think about it for a minute, and I am certain that anyone born since 1990 can think of at least two big ones that have hit the USA. If you take a minute more, I’m pretty sure that most people can come up with something small that has happened to them or someone that they know.

FEMA has a great packet of material available on their website for basic disaster preparedness. The FEMA “Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness” site is a fabulous starting point to get your family ready for when things go wrong. The common thought is that every person should be self-sufficient for three days, because it may take that long for first responders (fire, police, emergency medical service, public utilities) to get into an impacted area and start the process of returning things to normal. Recently, I have heard some experts in the field of emergency management suggest that three days is just not enough. They have suggested to have at least seven days worth of supplies on hand.

To me, its better to be ready for something (even if it’s small) than to be prepared for nothing. Start with getting your hands on the “Are you Ready” material and go over it with your family. Read the text together and watch the video segments to see how one family prepares. Being prepared for a disaster is more than just having a dead flashlight in a drawer.

Preparing doesn’t have to be especially expensive. You can start small, with your next trip to the grocery store. Since having clean water can be a problem in a disaster situation, buy a gallon jug of water for everybody in the family. Don’t forget to buy water for the pets! If you can find the clear jugs of water, rather than the “milk carton” jugs, those are better because they are less prone to leaking. When grocery shopping, buy an extra package of non-perishable food. If you’re fancy and have one of those vacuum seal machines, like the FoodSaver, you can buy some food in larger packages and save half of it. This is especially easy for things like dried beans or uncooked pasta.

If you start storing food, make sure that you only store things that your family will eat. That will save you money and frustration in the long run, and can be a big comfort in a disaster. Also, once you have a small stock set, make sure that you rotate the “old” food out, use it, and replace what you’ve used with new food. Make sure that you date everything that you store with the date in which you put it in the supply closet.