Positive Progress on Preparedness


So many disasters happening this week! Where’s the positive progress???

My attention has been drawn from the incredible wildfires here in California to political blowups in Washington D.C. to the aftermath of a monster tornado hit in Texas. I’ve read about home solar battery explosions, the threat of Boeing’s 737 MAX, vaping addiction and deaths among high-schoolers, and tonight, to ever-wider PSPS’s . . .there’s just more happening than I can keep up with!

(Oh yes, PSPS is the newest acronym, standing for Public Safety Power Shut-offs. That’s the deliberate shut-down of power by the utility companies here in California in an attempt to avoid more fires during this hot, dry, and windy weather.)

So I decided to turn away from all the bad news and focus on some good news.

And I’m starting with a note from one of our readers that was positive progress personified!

Here’s what I received earlier this week from Suzi.

Hi Virginia! On my birthday in September I asked my family to lend me a hand to create a dedicated emergency supplies cupboard. We emptied a cupboard, built some shelves, and stocked it with all of our Go bags, a big first aid kit, an emergency radio, lanterns, gloves, etc. Nearby is a closet where we store sleeping bags, a tent, and canned food. I’m a CERT/CMAP member and I feel like I’ve finally made good progress on my preparedness to-do list. I enjoy reading your advisories and I continue to learn about how to react in an emergency. If you’d like, I can send you a snapshot of my new cupboard. Thank you!

Well naturally I responded to her invitation with an enthusiastic “Yes, please!’

So she wrote: Here is the dedicated cupboard! It’s a space we made under the stairs. On the door you can see the list of phone numbers for family members. We also have an extensive notebook with pertinent financial info, birth certificates, etc. One of the best items in this cupboard is an Icon Lifesaver Jerrycan which allows us to filter any questionable water (lake, pool, tap water under a boil water order). https://iconlifesaver.com/product/lifesaver-jerrycan-starter-pack/

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Storage cupboard built under staircase

Suzi’s note and photo have inspired a lot of questions and comments.

Such a good idea – finding useful storage space where there wasn’t any before!

Stairs and staircases are a perfect example of “lost” space that can be recovered.  Two-story homes often have whole strange-shaped rooms under stairs, perfect for storage. Any home with a porch may have space underneath that can be converted to emergency storage. Some of our neighbors have storage bins fastened to the roof in their garage (over the garage door tracks). We even use part of our Public Storage unit for storing emergency supplies. (The facility is located within walking distance of our home.)

Sometimes you have to create storage space if you want to make positive progress. What’s been YOUR most original and/or useful discovery?

What stands out for me in the photo of Suzi’s supply cabinet?

  • The list of important phone numbers and contact information fastened to the inside of the door! It looks as if it could easily be removed and stuffed into a Go-Bag, too, if necessary. (Joe and I have so many bits of “important information” that we have had to scan and store them on flash drives. But since we likely won’t have computers in an emergency, we have to have them on paper, too. The trick is to know exactly where they are.)
  • Items in see-through containers. This cupboard is awfully neat; as it fills up, as it is bound to do, having items in see-through plastic holders will make it so much easier to find what you’re looking for. I remember finding see-through soft zippered suitcase packing cubes at Amazon that might stack wonderfully on these irregularly-shaped shelves.
  • Duct tape. No need to comment about that except to be happy to see it! Do you have scissors and a knife? Not everyone can tear it easily. (This comment applies to all tools. Only collect and store tools that work and tools that you or family members can use safely.)
  • Icon Lifesaver Jerrycan for purifying water. I can’t identify it in the picture –  Is it hidden deep in one of the shelves? — but the more I hear about long-lasting outages, the more sensible a water purifying system sounds. (As you know from reading my Advisories, I have a number of small water purifying devices from LifeStraw, and have read good things about the family-size Berkey purifier.)
  • The full-sized First Aid Kit. One of my neighbors opened the trunk of her car today to get out a shopping bag, and I saw a small first aid kit fastened near the wheel well. I didn’t say anything but I wondered . . . How long had it been there – in the heat and cold? How much useful stuff could possibly be inside such a small box? I think we’re often too casual with our first aid supplies.
  • The LED light. That’s a great one – so compact!  (Here we have to be ready for an earthquake so we have a flashlight or lantern in every single room including one on each side of the bed.)

Suzi, your picture inspires one additional planning piece . . .

Just in studying the picture and in writing about all these emergency supplies I realize that at some point you may have to add another piece of paper to the door: a diagram listing everything in the cupboard and showing where it is located! 

As you know, I love lists and use them for just about everything, but I must admit to one challenge I haven’t solved. And that’s a good way to pack/store/keep track of my CERT duffel bags. We have a variety of them on the floor in a closet, and unfortunately I pull one or the other out for a different purpose – demonstration, first aid exercise, actual turnout to look for a missing person — add just what I want for that day, and then put the bag back at the end of the day. The next time I can’t remember what’s in which bag and find myself sorting through them all . . .  

Dear Reader, what’s your best suggestion for keeping track of my stuff in duffel bags?

So hasn’t this been an Advisory of a different style!? Thanks to Suzi for getting us all started in taking another look at our emergency supplies and how and where we have them stored. Again, please share your own positive progress stories. They help us all!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. Another cool thing about Suzi’s cupboard is that when it’s closed the valuable items inside are hidden from the casual observer. It’s important to be discrete about preparedness supplies so as not to draw uninvited attention.

P.P.S. I invite you to add to this conversation. The more positive progress we share, the more we’ll all be rewarded with good ideas! Drop me a line via the CONTACT form and we’ll see how to package your suggestions for everyone’s benefit.

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  1. Sherrard Shults