Preparedness at Work

As I evaluate our family's preparedness, I feel like we're doing pretty well. Like I said in my last post, we are able to roughly maintain a certain preparedness status-quo. I feel so much confidence and peace because I know we could weather many storms because of our storage. However, I have been feeling strongly lately that we have a big hole in one part of my family's emergency preparedness. We each spend so much of every day away from our home. Yet, there are limited preparedness resources when we are at school, work or on the road.

My children's schools are quite close to home. I've made little preparedness packs for my kids' backpacks in the past. And I'm aware that their teachers have kits available for the kids in an emergency. So, I don't feel the need to do more there.

My husband, on the other hand, spends most of the day far away from home. When we did our earthquake scenario for Family Home Evening, I realized that he would be the one most compromised in an emergency. This is the hole in our preparedness plans that I feel strongly about addressing. So, I've been working hard on preparedness packs for him. He works at a local university and I'm aware that they have emergency supplies for the university population for as much as three days. But if roads were closed for any reason, it would be a long walk home. Weather would just make things more difficult.

I'm actually working on two packs, one for my husband's car and one to keep in his office. Thus far I've purchased a rain poncho, flashlight, glowsticks and some granola bars. He already keeps water on hand. I think an umbrella, a change of socks, soap and a small first aid kit need to be included. I also plan on adding some clothes and underwear as well as a blanket to be kept in his office. Extra clothing would give him some options if he was hung up helping at the university. Extra clothing is also not a bad idea generally -- even if not for an emergency that you expect.

Funny Story: My husband called me once from work wanting to know how to resew a seam in his pants. The pants were brand new and must not have had a good knot to hold an essential seam closed. He had discreetly walked to the bookstore, with bag or book in front of the missing seam, purchased a sewing kit, returned to his office and promptly called me. Funnier yet, while he was sitting in his office, on the phone with me, pantless and resewing the seam, the fire alarm went off. As part of the evacuation plans, someone comes through each building opening each office to make sure everyone has left. To say that he sewed those pants up quickly is an understatement. And luckily he was able to get out of the building before someone burst into an unfortunate situation in his office. The new seam on those pants is still holding - if you were wondering.

I'll include a sewing kit in his office preparedness pack as well.

But I digress. What preparations have you made for those who work at locations away from home?


Ongoing Preparedness

There is no such thing as being perfectly prepared. It's impossible to anticipate every future problem that we will face. It's also impossible to *stay* prepared. There have been small moments in time that I've had everything that has been recommended. But soon enough, water needs to be rotated, food replaced and finances built up. For all of us preparedness is an ongoing process.

Over the past seven years, I have focused a great deal on my own personal home storage. We now have a decent three-month supply, more than 200 gallons of water stored, a financial reserve that could always use some more padding and 9 months of longer-term supplies. But as always, we draw from those reserves. There are quite a few items in my three-month supply that need to be replaced again. And of course, I'm waiting to replace my rice and flour buckets that are still sitting empty in my laundry room.

It's now been several years since I rotated my 55-gallon barrels of water. It's time to replace that water. I'm nervous about some possible contamination from a vehicle spill in my garage that could have compromised a full one-fourth of my water storage.

I recently purchased new clothing for our family 72-hour kits. Yes, it's probably crazy that I was putting *new* stuff into the kits. But after thinking of the many situations in which we might need the kits, I came to the conclusion that regardless of the emergency I would be more comfortable in something nicer than what I had previously chosen to store. I wanted clothing that fit well, was comfortable and would also be durable for work that would likely accompany the use of the kits. I also had come to understand that my teenage son might sit inside a tent or shelter rather than work - because he was too cool to wear the clothing that I stored for him. (I hadn't realized before that teenage boys care a lot more than we realize about these things - even in emergencies.) Unfortunately - or fortunately, My son and I liked our new pants so much that they never made it into our kits. So those pants need to be replaced *again.*

So, I currently have a pretty long catch-up list. I have found the need to plan for those catch-up lists as part of becoming prepared. Sometimes I purchase a little extra beyond my three-months' worth in order to keep on top of my goals as the reserves are being used up. But in the end, at some point, it all has to be replaced, rotated or restocked. Having an awareness of your preparedness supplies, can allow you to constantly replace supplies or you might set up a monthly or bi-monthly routine of evaulating your home-storage.

Instead of thinking of preparedness as an event, I recommend think of it as an ongoing process.


More for Home-Storage Specialists

Here is a fun handout from Plenty of Picnics with more ideas for home-storage specialists.

My Preparedness Calling

Valerie also has other fun handouts:

First Aid
Family Emergency Plans
Family Emergency Contacts
Emergency Water
Preparedness Organization Planner (inventory, planning, binder sheets).

NOTE - The food storage calculator in the organization binder is based on the OLD home storage program (which can still be applied to longer-term storage). I have not verified the accuracy of the information included in the above handouts.

Click here for iPrepared's past post on ideas for home-storage specialists.


Home-Storage-Price Dilema

Well, I've had two large storage buckets sitting empty for more than a month now. Typically, when I empty a bucket, I add that item to my grocery list and refill it as quickly as possible. However, when I visited Costco with that intention, I discovered higher prices on both the flour and rice than I remembered. I found myself conflicted with replacing the storage as quickly as I could and trying to find a good price.

In the end, I didn't make the purchase. I know that some of these items are likely to go on sale at our local grocery store in the near future. A "case-lot" sale is scheduled for April and flour and rice prices are typically lowered. But every time I pass those empty buckets, I find myself wondering if I should have just purchased the food stores. Knowing that those buckets sit empty reduces my feeling of preparedness - well, two-buckets-worth.

Was it worth waiting? I'm not sure.


Powdered Milk Taste-Test

I love this post by Angela at Adventures in Self-Reliance. She got samples of most of the major powdered milk brands, conducted a taste test, and posted her results. She has some great information.

As you can see from her ratings, personal preference varied widely (with a few brands more broadly liked or disliked). As her tasters sampled one of the brands of milk, they were surprised to find out that they didn't like it. Angela writes, "I had some folks about cry when they found out how bad it tasted because that was the only kind they had stored."

Once again, this shows the importance of tasting the powdered milk that you store!


Home-Storage Specialists

Often in our church congregation you might find someone volunteering as a home-storage specialist. A home-storage specialist doesn't necessarily fall under one organizational umbrella. Consequently, you might have different instructions, goals and/or objectives if you serve in this responsibility. For example, in our own ward and stake, the home-storage specialist falls under the women's organization (Relief Society), but serves the whole ward or stake. In other wards a home-storage specialist might be a called as a welfare specialist, attend ward welfare meeting and work primarily with the Priesthood Quorums and Bishop. Up until recently, I served in the Relief Society Presidency and had some responsibility with the home-storage specialist.

In the past it seems, many home-storage specialists traditionally took orders, gathered money and delivered food storage. Because of tax-exempt issues in our area, we have specifically been asked by our leaders to not take orders or collect money anymore. But there is so much more that a home-storage specialist can do to encourage, teach and model preparedness than just take orders. So, I've included a list of ideas below.


*Schedule cannery trips. Create car-pooling groups to travel to and from these trips.

*Make arrangements for and educate congregation members about ward/stake home-storage equipment.

*Do "home-storage spotlights" each month in church.

*Include preparedness and home-storage information in ward newsletters, ward bulletins and ward emails.

*Create and distribute a monthly home-storage newsletter.

*Emphasize the *new* program. Too many people don't realize that there has been a change in the way the church is asking us to collect home storage. You could devote several of your spotlights to educating your ward members about these changes. Here it is in a nutshell: 1-Get a three-month supply of foods you regularly eat; 2-Store drinking water; 3-Save up for a financial reserve and THEN 4-Work on your longer-term storage (no longer a one-year supply).

*Pass around sign-up sheets for you to visit homes and help families inventory their current supplies and make goals.

*Help individual families transfer foods, menus, and recipes that they regularly eat into a three-month supply. It may be helpful to turn their menus into lists that can be tracked and rotated.

*Give ideas for Family Home Evening lessons that teach preparedness.

*Draw attention to church-magazine (Ensign) articles that teach home storage concepts.

*Use quotes and information from Priesthood Leaders to instruct and motivate.

*Make members aware of deals. Doing this requires caution and care to preserve the tax-exempt status of the church. Instead of promoting a specific business or sale, you can indicate that December is a good time to buy baking supplies, March to buy gardening supplies, etc. If individuals in your area want to do group orders, you could encourage them to collect orders through community resources instead of at church meetings or through church networks.

*Teach classes (or arrange for teachers to teach classes) to the Relief Society or ward about home-storage concepts including financial preparedness. These classes can be taught as a part of Sunday meetings (as directed by priesthood leaders), additional Relief Society meetings, ward activities, or workshops.

*Invite the ward or stake to a storage "fair" with displays. Include financial, water, and home-storage information.

*Facilitate and teach gardening classes. If space is available, develop a ward garden.

*Become educated yourself so that you can answer questions as they arise. Be aware of current food safety recommendations.

*Counsel with Priesthood Leaders and/or Relief Society leaders in order to understand the priorities that they feel are important to emphasize in your area.

*Educate about ideal storage conditions and packaging.

*Plan and carry-out ward or stake preparedness simulations.

Are you a ward or stake home storage specialist? I would love to hear about your experiences and ideas. Please respond below with your comments.