In a recent poll Americans were asked how they feel about the coming year. Seventy percent said they feared the future would bring higher taxes, higher food prices, and continuing high unemployment rates. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not one of fear, but one of hope. Prophets have counseled us that we would see difficult – even very difficult – days ahead, and admonished us to prepare for them.
Many have prepared and many have put off until tomorrow any real action. If you are now ready to begin, or if you have been preparing and are now ready to step up your efforts or to examine what still needs to be done, make January the month you start down the path to total self reliance for your family. Just do one thing each day and by the end of the month you will be amazed how much you have accomplished.
January 1st ~ That was yesterday so I hope you had a wonderful day of relaxation with family and friends and are now ready for a new challenge!
January 2nd ~ Hold a “family council” and review your goal to become totally ready for whatever the future may hold for your family. As a family, make a list of those things you would like to accomplish in 2013. This list may include getting a three month supply of the foods you eat and a supply of water, learning a few new skills such as sewing, building a fire, cooking without power, or building a shelter. Your goals may include saving a specific amount of cash to have on hand for an emergency. It may include building an emergency kit – we all know by now that 72 hours is not enough, right?
January 3rd ~ As the head of your household, determine the budget amount you are committing to spend each month to achieve your goals. You will need to tighten your belts and make some sacrifices now to find that hope and peace of mind we are all seeking. While you are discussing money, determine some cost-saving things you will do. If you need help with frugal living ideas visit http:blog.TotallyReady.com for some tips.
January 4th ~ Share your budget saving ideas with your family and get them on board. Use a canning jar or other container, and inform the family one of things you will be doing is to save all your change to purchase emergency supplies. Each night empty your change into the jar. Let the children know if they contribute change they will be allowed to help decide how to spend the money. For example, if you are working on food storage, they can help choose the desserts or the flavor of jam you will store. Each week, place the money you have budgeted into the jar.
January 5th ~ Organize your food storage and take inventory of what you already have. Clean out an area so you can expand your storage of food or store other supplies such as tents, camp stoves, firewood or whatever you are in need of acquiring. Check to make sure the area is free of pests, is dry and dark.
January 6th ~ Make a list of 10 family-favorite meals. Can you make those meals if you are without power? Discuss how you can make those meals using a barbecue, firepit, Dutch oven or solar oven. Have a meal ready that you have made in one of these ways to enjoy for your Sunday dinner. Discuss the skills you will need to learn to be able to cook without power, and who may be able to teach you those skills.
January 7th ~ For Family Home Evening Play what if. What if you were not at home when an emergency happened? You can substitute the emergency most likely to occur in your area. Ask each family member, including the adults what they would do. What if you were at a friend’s home? What if you were at work? What if you were at school? What if you were shopping? This will give you the opportunity to make sure your family all knows who to call – or in the case of adults and teens – where your meeting place will be.
Fill out emergency cards for each family member to keep in their wallet or school back pack. These should include home phone number, cell phones, home address, nearby friend or relative, and an out-of-state contact. Remember everyone should have the same out-of-state contact and phone them immediately. That person can then relay messages to the rest of the family as they check in.
January 8th ~ Place a sturdy pair of shoes under each bed in your home. If you have young children, place the shoes where they can be easily found by an older family member in the dark. Take a pair of good walking shoes to work. If an emergency arises at work and you are unable to drive home, you may be on foot and will need good shoes. This will vary according to your circumstances, but even people in metropolitan Tokyo had to walk home 10 or 20 miles from their offices last year following the Tsunami, and they were hundreds of miles from the devastation. While you are at it, think about getting a printed map of your area in case you don’t have cell or internet service.
You will also want an extra pair of shoes in the car in case you are caught away from home and away from the office. These are also important in case of a roadside emergency, in case your shoes get wet while changing a tire or awaiting rescue.
January 9th ~ Gather together all over-the-counter medications and check the dates. Discard any that have expired. Medications in pill form are good two years past the expiration date so don’t be too quick to discard them. Make a list of those you need to purchase and post it in your kitchen. Read through the weekly ads and replace the items on the list when they are on sale.
January 10th ~ Post emergency phone numbers next to each phone. Remember not only the police and fire departments, hospitals and doctors, but also the schools, out-of-state contact, friends, family, and your own phone numbers. A babysitter may need to call your cell phone, or a child may forget phone numbers during an emergency. Be sure to include your street address on this list. If a friend or babysitter has to call for help from your home, they will need to be able to tell rescuers the address.
January 14th ~ Teach everyone in the family how to call 911. It is vital that every family member know how to call 911. It is not as simple as just dialing a few numbers on the phone. Once the operator answers, time is of the essence and the better prepared you are to give vital information in the order the operator needs it, the sooner help will be on its way. See Meridian article Calling 911. As an exercise, make a dessert from food storage for treats.
January 15th ~ Take time to focus on the needs of others. Make a list of handicapped or elderly neighbors, friends and family members who may need help in an emergency – post their phone numbers and enter them into your cell phone contact list.
January 16th ~ Contact the people on the list you compiled yesterday. Discuss with them their plans in an emergency and their preparations.
If they do not have an emergency kit, ask them if they would like your help to create one. Maybe they can’t get out to do their own shopping. If they are not a family member, ask them about a contact person you can call for them in an emergency.
If it is appropriate, you might ask elderly or disabled neighbors for a key to their home. In some cases you may have to go into the home to physically help them out and you would need a key. In some emergencies, caregivers may not be able to come to their aid. If they are not able to prepare for emergencies, consider adding at least an extra mylar blanket and some energy bars to your kit for them.
January 17th ~ Prepare dinner using only food storage items. If you need help, call your visiting teacher, relief society president or a more experienced friend and pick their brain. Maybe you will get them thinking about preparing again too.
January 19th ~ Turn off the power. I know it’s the middle of winter, but the only way to know if you are truly prepared for a power outage is to experience one. Wouldn’t you rather have that experience on your own terms? Go outside and turn off the main breaker to your home. Now, go about your Saturday actiities as normal. Fix all your meals without using the stove or oven, do chores, homework, run errends, all without power. Use alternative sources to heat your home.
Place a note on the refrigerator and freezer that reads “Think before you open”. Have family members make a list of the foods they need before they open the door and make sure they open and close it quickly. Place a note in the bathroom “Do not flush” if you are without power and are on a well, you will not be able to flush as you nromally would. If the power is out at the water pumping station, you will not be able to flush. Rely on the gallons of water you have stored to flush and wash up. Also place water jugs next to the kitchen sink for washing and drinking. Play games, read, eat, get ready for bed, all by alternative light sources. When you turn in, turn the power back on.
January 20th ~ Evaluate your day without power. What did each family member learn? What do you need to learn to be better prepared? This may include cooking without power, how and where to store more water, how to keep your house warm, and how to provide light without spending a fortune on batteries. What do you need to purchase? Be sure every family member has the opportunity to contribute to the discussion. By including the children, you are creating self reliant adults for the future.
January 21st ~ It time to work on your emergency kits. If you already have them, get them out tonight and go through them. Be sure your foods are still good and the clothing still fits. If you do not already have kits, now is the time to search your home and begin. Make a list of items the family needs to find, divide up the list and have a scavenger hunt in your own home. Items can be everything from old backpacks to pencils and paper for leaving notes, first aid supplies, or a baseball cap for everyone. For some ideas to help you get started check our blog for these resources:
There is much more information on the blog, so take a little time to look around.
January 22nd ~ Place an old blanket or two in your car. There should be a blanket in the car for every seat. If you have a bench seat in the back and two front seats, three blankets. If you have two bench seats in the back and two front seats, four balnkets. You get the idea. These can prove to be a real life saver should you be caught in a traffic delay or worse, find yourself stranded.
January 23rd ~ Evaluate your preparation to care for your pets. Be sure to have food and water enough for several weeks. Do they currently need medications which need to be stored? Do you have a leash and a cage? Following a natural disaster, animals often become confused and can’t find their way back home because the landscape has changed. Be aware you will no longer be able to just open the door and let them roam.
January 24th ~ Put together a self reliance binder. Go back through all the old Totally Ready Newslettersand copy articles. You may need to copy some more than once to include in several sections of your binder. Be sure to include some of the recipes such as those that concentrate on Dutch oven cooking. Don’t forget a section to record your food storage inventory and plan. If you have articles saved on your computer which will help you cope with a disaster be sure to copy and include them as well. Remember, most natural disasters will include a power outage and anything saved on the computer will be useless. Hard copy resources will be key.
January 25th ~ Call you child’s school(s) and ask for a copy of their emergency plans. If they cannot provide one, you need to get the ball rolling… ask your school administrators why not, and ask what you can do to help. Review the plan with your children over dinner. Make this a positive and not a frightening discussion. Check with your ward (congregation) leaders, and ask for their emergency plan as well. See Meridian article: Is Your School Prepared for an Emergency?
January 26th ~ Have an un-birthday celebration and pat yourself on the back for the progress you are making in your efforts to become self reliant. Make everything for the celebration – from the food to the decorations – from the resources already stored in your home (your personal “General Store”, we like to say). This is another exercise to help you understand what items you still need to add to your store. During a time of crisis, whether it be a financial crisis or a natural disaster, you will want to maintain as normal a routine as possible. Birthdays, holidays, acceptance to college, a mission call, or scoring the winning point at a basketball game may all happen during a general or family crisis. Being prepared to celebrate will bring peace and stability to your home, and help dispel fear.
January 27th ~ Put extra money in your change jar, as much as you would for a fast offering, or more. Save on food today by eating frugal meals. Serve breakfast foods or a potato bar for dinner, peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, and oatmeal or pancakes for breakfast.
January 28th ~ Learn to use a fire extinguisher. if you don’t have one, now is the time to add a few to your home inventory. Invite a firefighter or experienced friend to your Family Home Evening to demonstrate and teach you. Post the phone number for poison control and make sure every family member knows where the number is and when to call for help.
Introduce your family to your self reliance binder. Educate each member on how to find information, so if you are not home when the power goes out they know how to find the information and what to do. Point out other uses of the binder so your family will think to go to it to find help, even if it’s just to prepare a meal when mom is sick and there doesn’t seem to be anything in the house to eat except that food storage.
January 29th ~ Make this a shopping free week. Begin now, no shopping until next Monday…There is no better way to determine what you lack in your food storage than by going “shop free” for a week. There is also no better way to determine where you are spending money on needlessly, than by closing your wallet. No more runs for fast food or runs to the store for classroom treats or school supplies. If there is an ingredient you are missing, change the menu, but make note that you need to purchase that item for your food storage. If a birthday party invitation arrives, think homemade, or go to your reserve stash of gifts for a rainy day. No reserve? Then right now, in the first days and weeks of the new year, with all its clearance sales, may be the best time to pick up some real bargains on jewelry and scarves for teen girls, toys and games for kids of all ages, serving dishes and linens for shower gifts. Just remember when you buy a reserve gift item, it should be a true bargain, like 70% off, and a quality item you can use to fulfill a real or unplanned gift obligation down the road.
January 30th ~ Examine the list you made on January 2nd. How are you doing with those goals?
Make a list of anyone who can help you learn the skills you listed. Make a list of anyone who may have fruit trees or a garden and who will be willing to share produce when the time comes, or better, someone who can teach you to plant your own garden so you can add to your food storage frugally. Create a priority list of items you need to purchase for your garden.
January 31st ~ As a family, count the money in your jar and decide how to spend the money. Now that you have made savings a habit, continue throughout the coming year and by year-end you will have made a big dent in your self reliance as a family.