Emergency preparedness self sufficiency

Could You Survive? Giving It Thought Now Might Make All the Difference for You and Your Family

Friend and reader, Julie, sent me an email the first part of September saying that she and her husband had evacuated their home because of fires.

They live in the mountains and are surrounded by forest. Coupled with the hottest summer on record, fire spread quickly when a power pole fell and caught the hillside on fire.

Miraculously, their home was spared. You’ll see why I say miraculously when you look at the pictures below of the home directly behind Julie’s home and then another neighbor’s home already burned to the ground.

The home behind Julie’s

Another neighbor’s home burned to the ground.

Disaster events like this are hard even for those who are well prepared. Not being prepared can be a matter of life or death.

Best Time to Prepare for Any Disaster

Julie lives in Utah, the state of emergency preparedness. When she and her husband moved there, neighbors came over and took them out to buy food supplies and gave them books and pamphlets on preparedness.   Folks in her neighborhood are prepared to evacuate at a moments notice.

And of course, that’s the best time to get prepared: when things are going well and there’s no perceived urgency.

That’s why many articles show up right after disasters to encourage preparedness for the future.

If You Know What to Do Things Can Seem a Bit Easier

Years ago when we were living in the old house I told you about here , I’d see various articles listing supplies folks might need in the next hurricane, etc.  Being totally without funds in those days made it impossible to get much. But we did what we were able.

Oddly enough the one advantage we had over most of our neighbors was the fact that we knew how to survive in conditions well below those most Americans live in. We knew how to do without just about everything when we had to. And Bill, in spite of the fact that he was an artist, had an engineer’s mental ability and could come up with a solution to almost any problem we encountered.

One year there was a snow storm, the likes of which are seldom seen here in Virginia. Snow was 3 feet deep and no one could get out with a vehicle unless it was a large tractor. Power was out for almost two weeks.

Because of what we had learned by having to do without, Bill and I were able to show our neighbors how to get by without power. They were encouraged by the small things we showed them which helped make the situation more bearable.

Suppose You Can’t Evacuate?

Remembering back some 30years ago, a bad hurricane was expected. Officials were going door to door telling people to get ready for possible evacuation.

Bill and I knew right then and there that we were not going any place no matter the consequences. First of all, where in the world would we go? We had no money for gas and no money to provide for ourselves once we left the house. Even if a public shelter were available and we had been able to get there, they would not allow animals. And I had no intention of leaving Samuel (our black lab) behind.

We figured we were better off staying put and we did. We felt the house move in the worst of it, but fortunately we came out it ok.

Questions to Ask Yourself

It’s wise to give some thought to being prepared for an emergency situation. Even if you’re busy with the “fun” of Christmas it might be a good time to think about getting some emergency supplies that could save the life of you and your family when things get bad.

Suppose there were power outages all over the country that lasted indefinitely? How would you heat your home; or keep yourself warm? What would you eat? How could you cook? How would you get clean water to drink? How would you protect yourself from marauders?

These are basic questions that all of us need to address so we can survive when things take a turn for the worst.

It also helps to know up front that “government” will not protect you in times of crisis. It will be up to you to protect you and yours. That might scare you, but knowing it upfront could save your life.

A Few Suggestions

Although I couldn’t be called a “prepper”, I do believe in being prepared to the best of my ability.

Here are a few things that you might consider getting right away if you don’t already have them.

A GOOD Flashlight

A flashlight is a necessity even for everyday living. And a good one, rather than a cheap one that doesn’t last. (I should be an expert on those, because we sure had enough of them over the years.)

After reading a lot of reviews I settled on two Fenix flashlights.

  • The LD 22 which is great for every day use.
  • And the TK35 which I save for emergencies OR when it’s pitch black outside and I want to light up as much area in front of me as I can with a still affordable flash light.

Batteries for the Flashlights

I read a lot of mixed information about batteries.  The best thing I did was to call Battery Junction and ask lots of questions.  The lady I spoke to was very knowledgeable and spent time with me explaining what I needed to know.

Especially helpful was learning that rechargeable batteries continually loose their charge whether they’re in use or not. You have to remember to charge them every 6 weeks.  Thus, for the TK35 I ordered a dozen CR123A batteries since they don’t lose their charge and keep for 7 to 10 years in a cool dry place.

If you use the TK35 on the brightest setting you’ll use up the batteries more quickly, so it’s good to have a dozen on hand.

For the smaller flashlight (LD22) I ordered a package of 24 AA batteries.

Water Filter

From everything I was able to find, Berkey filters seem to be the best and remove the most pollutants. And they work on gravity, so you don’t need electricity.

From reading the reviews, I learned you need to prime the filters right away and make sure they work correctly.  You only have 30 days to return them if something is wrong.

Kerosene Heater

Fortunately, we’ve never had to use our kerosene heater since we’ve been at our current residence.  But I have it ready to go in case of a power outage in cold weather.  I think I could at least keep my pipes and me from freezing.

With the kerosene heater you’ll need some stored kerosene.   Usually the owner’s manual to the heater will tell you how many hours it’ll run per gallon of kerosene. You can plan from there.

Things You Can Eat Without Cooking

Here are a few things I keep on hand:

  • Greens from the garden in all seasons.
  • Organic dried raisins.  I think Thompson’s are the best.
  • Organic rolled oats.  You can soak 1/2 cup of rolled oats in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water for 20 minutes.  Add raisins and/or honey or maple syrup and you have a satisfying meal.
  • If you make your own bread, bake thin slices in the oven at 200º F until hard and dry.  Stores in an air tight container for weeks. Delicious with cheeses.  Great for traveling too.

Gun and Ammunition

After Bill died I learned how to shoot.  I was always afraid to handle a gun prior to that, but now I feel comfortable about shooting the gun if I have to.

It would be good to have as much ammunition as you can on hand. If things really got bad, more than likely ammunition would be in high demand and you’d not be able to get it at the last minute.


If you’ve tried to buy gas or food when the power is out, you already know you can’t buy anything with credit.  And that’s just a taste of what can happen in a crisis.

Have cash on hand for emergencies even if the power stays on. Otherwise, you might not be able to buy anything.

Final Thoughts

Although this is not a comprehensive list of every concern in a crisis situation, it’s a start.

I’m hoping you’ll give it some thought even during the holidays and see what you can do to help insure that you and your family can survive whatever comes.


All content including photos is copyrighted by TendingMyGarden.com. All Rights Reserved.


  • Theresa

    You did not mention the most important thing to do both before and during an event.


  • Theresa,

    Did you post this before or after the power outage at the Atlanta airport? That really made us stop and think! I know it is unpleasant to think of such events, but preparedness just makes good sense! Last year, my husband put together emergency backpacks for me and the girls to keep in our vehicles – just in case. And he is a huge fan of flashlights, so we have those tucked away in several spots throughout the house, and (of course) in our cars!

    Thank you for this post! I wish you a calm and peaceful Christmas!

  • Excellent post!
    My heart goes out to the people that lost so much. And for Julie and her family for the fear and hardship they must have endured.
    It warms my heart that you are so prepared Theresa. You have some excellent advice to share.
    I hope you have a very warm and comfortable Christmas and a good New Year.

  • Don, thanks for that addition to the post!

    Pat, I didn’t know abut the outage at the Atlanta airport until I read your comment.
    As a matter of fact, I had started this post back in September and found myself unable to finish it.
    Then on Sunday when I was working on something totally different I came across the notes I had made and put everything else down,finished it, and put it up.
    Must have been the right time. I hope it helped someone.

    Toni, I don’t know that I’m as prepared as I should be, but I’m doing the best I can with it and trying to increase preparedness as I go along and find I’m able.

    Thanks to you three for sharing thoughts.
    Enjoy every day!

  • Theresa,
    Thanks for the common sense approach to being prepared in life’s emergencies. You are right to say you just scratched the surface with what we need. I am just now thinking a survivalist ex military or otherwise could teach a group of people in the neighborhood some of the finer points about how to overcome physical and land emergencies in a time of real need. Maybe churches could take the lead in this arena? We live in such precarious times, one never knows when misfortune will arrive. Our generations past have taken with them the basic living skills. I for the most part let them go without teaching me. Tisk tisk tisk

    Good stuff
    Merry Christmas. I go to California this week to see the kids.

  • You’re sure right Steve, most people no longer know basic living skills. Good for all of us to give that some thought and teach ourselves and our kids the way to survive.

    By the way, how is your son-in-law doing. Much better?

    Have a great time in California with the kids over the holidays!

  • Hi Theresa,

    It’s weird to see a post about the fire; I remain blessed and grateful for the heroes that saved our home. This has been a horrible year for disasters in our country and I ache for everyone still suffering. Thanks to you I have learned and practiced the 3 Keys to Successful Gardening and could feed us in dire times. Merry Christmas to all! Julie

  • Theresa,
    My son-in-law is doing great! God is good! He has given my son-in-law an extension of life at least 2 times. We are grateful to the Creator for allowing John to have extended life with his family and otherwise. Thanks for asking it means a lot that you remembered.


  • Interesting article! I have been thinking along these lines. A big concern for me would be how to get water from a well that is operated by an electric well pump. Any ideas? I can only store a limited amount of water for a family of six.

  • Julie, that makes me feel really good that I was helpful in your being able to feed your family in the event of dire times! Thanks for letting me know.

    Steve, so glad to hear your son-in-law is doing great! I know he considers everyday a gift. Thanks for the update.

    Ellie, it seems to me that getting water from a well operated by an electric pump without electricity would be impossible. Someone may be able to figure out how to do it, but I’m not one of them.
    The thing about a crisis is you won’t have access to water as we do when all is well. We’ll have to forage for water. Maybe rigging something to catch dew and rain water. Finding lakes or streams to get water, etc. Dangerous in this day and age without a filter to remove contaminants. So that’s something we have to plan for as well.

    I would suggest keeping at least a weeks supply of water (if possible) on hand and then if things get bad it’ll give you some time to work out a plan for obtaining water. Refresh your storage supply often enough to keep it fresh. Not sure how long that would be. (A good thing for me to Google. I don’t like my bottled water to age any more than 3 months at most.)

    Hope this helps Ellie.

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