An emergency is anything that happens that is unexpected, life changing, or causes significant disruption of your day to day life. But what I define as an emergency is going to be different than yours. How I handle an emergency is going to be different than how you handle one. But there are a few universal truths to emergencies and planning for them. So instead of answering “what is an emergency”, we should asking and talking about, how to prepare for emergencies.
What Is An Emergency
As I said at the start of this blog post, an emergency is any unexpected event that leaves you reeling. This could be literally ANYTHING. An unexpected job loss, injury or illness, fire or storm or heaven forbid, a death. These events can be absolutely devastate you and your family. But there are things we can do to help mitigate some of them and the first step is planning.
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How To Prepare For Emergencies
There are a lot of things that we can do to prepare for an emergency. But there are some emergencies that no matter what, you can’t prepare for. Those are the true heartbreakers. But before we talk about that, let’s get into preparing.
Planning For Emergencies
The first thing that we need to do when starting on this journey is to realize that you can plan and plan until you think you are prepared for anything. But you have to realize that you will NEVER be prepared for every single thing. Sure, we can make sure that we have food on hand. We can make sure that we have plenty of water. But what happens if all of that is gone? So we have plans and more plans. Then we have back up plans.
The first thing we do is plan for an emergency. I break down emergencies into a couple of categories: Financial Emergency, Health Emergency, Weather Emergency, and Other Emergencies. We are going to go through each one and I’ll show you how I prepare for these things.
This can look like anything from a job loss to legal issues. This could even look like the after effects of one of the other types of emergencies. For example, a health emergency can have financial impacts. Or a weather emergency can wipe out your savings.
There are several ways to help mitigate a financial emergency and the first is a savings account. We want to have a fair amount in this account to help if something goes wrong. There are a bunch of financial gurus that say you should have $1,000 in it, 3-6 months of expenses, or some other amount that they deem is the “Right” amount.
To be honest, when you homestead, you should have a lot more than that in there. When our well pump went out, it was a $3,000 repair. If your goat gets injured, that can be a couple thousand dollars.
Realistically, you know how much your house needs to run in the case of an emergency. For us, we shoot for at least a month of income in savings at any given time. For some, that number is going to be hard to figure out and harder to save. But having that money in the bank (or safe) can set your mind at ease.
Another way to deal with financial emergencies is to have a well stocked house. If you think about it, this alone can mitigate most financial emergencies. Because you don’t have to buy groceries, toilet paper, dog food, or animal feed, that can stretch your savings by a lot. You don’t have to buy anything until you get back on your feet.
This can look like anything from a broken leg to a cancer diagnosis, and it absolutely devastates a family. If either Jared or I were to get seriously injured, our world would come to a grinding halt. The loss of income, loss of help around the homestead, and medical bills could be crippling. To prepare for some of that, we make sure that we have good short and long term disability to help cover bills and expenses. We’ve got good health insurance, money in the bank and food in the pantry and freezers.
But what happens when that runs out? An illness can make all of that completely obsolete because of the length of time illness can take to heal. This is were knowing who you can rely on in your community can make a huge difference. Friends, family, and neighbors can become invaluable when dealing with a health emergency.
This is the scariest emergency for me because I can plan for financial emergencies. I can plan even prepare to a certain extent for health emergencies by having insurances, food and a good community. But when a weather emergency strikes? You can be facing a total loss and not have any way to come back from it.
If a tornado rips through your community, you aren’t the only one dealing with it. The community is too. Which means it doesn’t matter how much money you have in savings. You will be facing long lines to get water, food, clothes, etc. Because your well thought out plan is gone with the house.
To prepare for it, there really isn’t much we can do, right? If a tornado rips the roof off the house and floods our cellar, our supplies are gone. But there are things you can do. The first being never store all of your supplies in one spot.
Having spare chainsaw blades and gas stored in the barn, garage and basement. Or having a couple caches of food, clothes, blankets, etc in barrels buried in the yard may seem crazy now, but if something happens? You’ll be glad to have it.
Think about these types of weather emergencies and start preparing for them.
And please make sure that you have a manual can opener! You would be surprised how many people have all these canned goods with no way to open them!
These are the heartbreakers. The sudden loss of a loved one, divorce, major accidents, house fires, etc. These are the ones that hurt the most because you are not only financially impacted but emotionally impacted.
I have a binder that has all of our information in it. If ANYTHING happens to me, I know that Jared can handle everything. And if he can’t, it tells whoever is handling everything, where to find our resources.
Preparing For Emergencies Doesn’t Mean You Are A Prepper
One of the things that drives me crazy is that people are so afraid of being labeled a “Prepper”. Preppers have been vilified by the media, governments, or whoever else. And “normal” people are scared of them.
But you don’t have to prepare for a zombie apocalypse.
No one wants to think about what could happen. But in our day to day jobs, Jared and I see these emergencies all the time. We hear all the time, “How am I going to handle X?”. And it has really gotten me thinking over the years. What would I do IF?
I just need you to be prepared if something goes wrong. This can look like picking up an extra can of beans or pasta every grocery trip. This could be saving a $20 bill in your nightstand. These small steps will add up and allow you to have peace of mind that if something does happen, you will be okay.
A Side Note
As a side note, I want to remind you that the time of an emergency is not the time to try and learn new skills! If you don’t know how to start a fire, the time to learn is not when the power goes out and your family is freezing. The time to learn how to start a garden, is not when the grocery store shelves are bare. Just a thought to keep in mind.
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