The Art and Science of Being Prepared

This blog post is inspired by the life and instructions from a special guest contributor. My father is the king of emergency preparedness, and I owe all the following tips and advice solely to him!

“Expect the Unexpected”

I don’t know how many times while I was growing up, my dad would pull me aside for a chat about being prepared for emergencies. Whether it be medical/first-aid emergencies, car troubles, bad weather, a house fire, or natural disasters, my dad was ready for it all! For many years, he ran his own business teaching first aid, safety, and wilderness survival, so he knows what he is talking about! The very first thing he gave me when I got my first car was an industrial-sized first aid kit to keep in my trunk. He had an evacuation plan for our house, so everyone knew what to grab and where to meet up outside in the designated “safe zone.” Every fall, he would ask me if I had my winter survival kit packed and ready in my vehicle. It’s because of him, and the way he raised me, that as the weather turns chilly, my thoughts turn to being ready for whatever the next season may bring.

When I decided to do a post about being prepared, I reached out to my dad to see what some of his top recommendations would be. The following is entirely based on the wise advice from my father.

Keep a Survival Kit in your Vehicle

My dad always made sure everyone had their big plastic bin of gear stowed in their trunk for that “it’ll never happen to me” worst-case scenario. Even though I have never had a major car accident or mishap, knowing that I have gear that would help in the event that something did go wrong brings great peace of mind. Especially now that I have little kids riding along with me, I definitely see the value of keeping that tote bin stocked up and ready. The following is my dad’s list of emergency essentials:

People stuff:

  • Extra warm clothing for driver and passengers (in the winter, this also meant bring your snow suits! and extra toques, scarves, and mitts for everyone – picture yourself stranded with no heat for 45 minutes in -30 degrees waiting for a tow truck)
  • Snack food
  • Water bottles
  • Toys/games (again, picture yourself with your kids waiting for a tow truck!)
  • Real wool blankets (one per person)
  • Extra warm boots for the driver
  • Winter work gloves

Vehicle stuff:

  • Kitty litter in a shakable container (traction on ice)
  • Small shovel
  • GOOD flashlight (tip:  put the batteries in backwards for storage so they don’t wear down)
  • Ice scraper
  • Phone charger
  • List of critical names and phone numbers
  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Hand/foot warmers
  • Candles, matches and lantern
  • Paper towels or rags
  • Duct tape
  • Set of reflective caution triangles
  • Maps
  • More stuff if you are travelling on remote highways away from populated areas

Develop a Home Emergency Plan

When I was a teenager, I would roll my eyes when Dad mentioned the emergency plan. I thought he was ridiculously over-prepared and no one else I knew did anything that weird. Now, as a parent myself, and having close friends and family experience carbon monoxide leaks and home fires (thankfully no one was injured!), I definitely see the value in having a plan.

Fire/Carbon Monoxide

When was the last time you checked your smoke alarm? Do you know that your carbon monoxide detector is operational? What would it look like at your home if suddenly at 2am your fire alarm went off and you woke up to the awful smell of smoke? Would you get your family, pets, and treasures out in a calm and timely manner, or would there be mass panic? Sit down with your spouse and a notebook and sketch out what that scenario would look like…who would grab the baby, and who would be responsible for the laptop and the wedding photos? Are your treasured items somewhere you could easily get them out, or are they buried in a closet somewhere? Do you have windows that you could get out if the doors are blocked by flames? A ladder close by so your two-year-old doesn’t have to jump down 6 feet? Does your teenager know to grab the dog who sleeps in their room and get outside to wait for you at a designated spot, or would they come looking for you in confusion through the smoke? Are you up-to-date on recommendations from your local fire department? Think about it, talk about it with your family, and write it down!

Extreme Weather

What happens if, rather than being unexpectedly forced to leave your home, you find yourself trapped inside instead? Perhaps you’re snowed-in for a day or two by a freak snowstorm and the plows just can’t get to everyone right away, or maybe it’s a tornado and high winds keeping you chilling in the relative safety of your basement. Could you survive with no utilities for a few hours or even days? What could you keep on hand that would make that experience a little more comfortable? What if some sort of natural disaster sent everyone flocking to the stores, mass hysteria ensued, and suddenly you had nowhere to purchase food? Perhaps those “doomsday preppers” aren’t so crazy after all! Sit down with your spouse and make a list..maybe you do want to keep some flashlights, batteries, candles, and lighters on hand. Perhaps keeping a case of water bottles in your pantry isn’t a bad idea. What about stocking up on some delicious freeze-dried fruits and veggies or making some meals in jars?

Injuries or Medical Crises

If you or your children were seriously ill or injured at home, would you be prepared? Is there a first-aid kit by your kitchen in case your chef-inspired chopping goes dreadfully awry and you need some bandages STAT? Do you know what to do if your 14-month-old finds something under your couch and starts choking? What if your toddler decides it’s a good idea to drink Daddy’s contact lens solution or wash their hair with toilet bowl cleaner? While I’m a big proponent of baby-proofing to the utmost degree, accidents still can and do happen. Keep your first-aid kit fully stocked and in a place that’s easy to reach. Teach your kids how to dial 911 and when it is appropriate to do so. Take a first-aid course, and learn baby CPR if you have little ones at home. Learn your local numbers for HealthLink and the poison control centre, and post them somewhere you can quickly access in an emergency. Know which pharmacy is open 24-hours in case you need a desperate late-night restock on medication for your baby’s fever. Keep all your medications locked up where your toddler can’t access them, and ask your dinner guests not to leave bags or purses on the floor where your baby could go snooping and find unsecured medications or choking hazards. Make sure your babysitter is prepared in case something goes wrong. Such simple little things, but they are proven to save lives!

Next Steps…

I hope this serves as a spark for thought and conversation in your home. If you prepare for something that never happens, it’s a few sheets of paper, hours of your time, and interesting conversations with your spouse. If something dire happens and you aren’t prepared, however, you will be in for a lot more stress and anxiety! Just a disclaimer, I do not believe that we can control all the events and circumstances in our lives, nor should we try to. I personally believe in a wise and sovereign God who is directing all things for His glory and the good of those who love Him. If you would like to learn more about the gospel message, and how it brings freedom from anxiety and the pressure of feeling that we must be all things and do all things to protect our families, and how we don’t need to bear the burden of guilt when disasters happen, I would love for you to connect with me about that!

Just on a sheerly practical level though, I do think there is a lot to be gained by being reasonably prepared. If you agree, and if you’d like to learn more from the expert behind this blog post, please join me on Facebook this Thursday at 8pm for a live chat with my charismatic and knowledgeable father, Fred Tyrrell!

What do you do to be prepared? Any experiences where you wish you’d had “x” with you or known just a bit more? Please share below!

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