Before I start, I just want to say THANK YOU to the LDS Daily community and Hayley (who I worked with) specifically. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to address this LDS audience and working with LDS Daily has been a pleasure. They have been patient with me, as well as fun and kind. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with them for a bit.
Since it is just past general conference and many of us have preparedness on the mind, I’d to share some of the things I wish I had known when I started working on emergency preparedness. I hope for those of you who like to learn from other’s mistakes, that you find this helpful!
1). God blesses even small efforts
When I first started seriously working on emergency preparedness back in late 2007, I constantly felt like a failure! I felt that I could never do enough and would never be “done.” We had just been blessed with twin boys three weeks after my husband started law school. Finances were tight and sleep was scarce. I was frequently overwhelmed, and sometimes that led to a feeling of wanting to give up. Yet I desperately wanted to be able to provide for my two precious boys in any circumstance.
Then in early 2008 I read something President Gordon B Hinckley had said during the priesthood session of the October 2002 general conference that was again quoted in the April 2007 conference. (So that means it must be super important, right?) He said:
“We can begin ever so modestly. We can begin with a one week’s food supply and gradually build it to a month, and then to three months. . . . I fear that so many feel that a long-term food supply is so far beyond their reach that they make no effort at all. Begin in a small way, . . . and gradually build toward a reasonable objective.”
That was such a huge relief to me! God’s chosen mouthpiece was telling me that is was okay to “begin in a small way.” That meant that God must feel that way too.
I was overcome with the spirit and I knew that God would bless me for each and every e-prep effort that I made, no matter how small. I testify that He will do the same for you.
Do something. No matter how small. Have faith that you will blessed and then move forward with hope and confidence. You can find lists of projects that take very little time and / or money at the links below:
2). A Plan is Essential
When I first started with E-prep, one mistake I made was to just jump right in. I didn’t give a lot of thought as to what I was actually trying to prepare for. Instead I felt I need to be ready for anything.
In my five years helping others with emergency preparedness, I’ve seen many of them make the same mistake.
Not knowing what you are preparing for and / or not having a prioritized plan to get there can cause a lot of anxiety. I’m certain it is a huge part of what caused me to feel so overwhelmed at first.
Eventually, I created a system that worked for me and helped me to prioritize. If you would like some help creating a real plan for your family, you can find my system (complete with free printable worksheets) by clicking on the links below:
- What is Your Emergency Preparedness End Game? Take These Three Steps to Find Out
- Three Lists You Should Make To Prioritize Your Preparedness Goals
3). Stuff Isn’t Everything. Skills are the Real Deal
Another mistake I made early on was to focus on accumulating “stuff.” I wanted all sorts of supplies. I thought I needed everything from food storage, to a generator, to a Sun Oven to first aid supplies and more.
The problem? Stuff is expensive!
I started to think about the pioneers and how little “stuff” they really had. And yet, they were self-sufficient.
How were they able to do that? SKILLS! They had a whole lot of skills!
- If I had a year’s worth of food, but no idea how to use it, would that really benefit my family?
- What about a Sun Oven? Sure I could buy one and store it in the basement, but how would I deal with the learning curve during a disaster?
- I may have the world’s most advanced first aid kit, but without the knowledge and skills to go with it, I might actually do more damage than good.
“Stuff” does have place! It is important. But it is only truly useful when we know how to use it.
Plus, even if you can’t afford to purchase “stuff” right now, you can gain skills!
- Practice “survival” skills by camping with your family!
- Find ways to make things instead of buying them
- Garden and can / dehydrate food
- Take a free first aid course
- Learn to make a meal with 100% food storage
And when you do purchase stuff, practice using it! Test it out! Make certain it will do what you want it to. Make sure you have everything you need. I learned some great lessons when I lived without water and later without electricity for a while! Practice and try things out!
4). Never Pay Full Price for Anything
We are encouraged to have storage: food, water, fuel, clothing etc. But we are also encouraged to get and stay out of debt. I am certain that the Lord does not want or expect us to go into debt in order to follow his counsel regarding emergency preparedness.
While I never went into debt for an e-prep item, I often spent too much on them because of my impatience. Remember how I told you up there at the top of the article that I felt I needed to do everything right then? Well, I also want to buy everything right then.
I wasn’t good at waiting for sales or tracking prices and knowing what a truly good price was on big ticket items or regular grocery goods. I would often purchase something only to find it on sale for a much lower price somewhere else or sometime later.
After a few months I stopped and got smart. I decided I would never pay full price for anything. I would do my research and know what a good price was for an item I wanted and then I’d wait for that price. I would trust that the Lord would provide in His time.
I created a place in our budget for e-prep and I wouldn’t spend from it until / unless I found a good deal. You can find some of the results of my research on grocery items at this link:
And if you are thinking “I just don’t have any money for E-prep,” then you may find this article helpful:
5). Preparedness Isn’t Just For Disasters
When I was first married, I thought food storage was really only for natural disaster type emergencies. I know, I know, many of you food storage gurus are laughing. But I’m serious. I thought the only good reason to store a large supply of food in your home was in case of an earthquake or hurricane that prevented you from getting to the store.
I used to wonder if it would really take the stores a full year to replenish their stock. It didn’t seem it had ever taken that long before. I couldn’t imagine what you would ever need a full year’s supply for!
- But then, I the day came when I used my freeze dried chicken because I forgot to thaw out the meat for dinner!
- Another day, I used our propane stove to make dinner because the power was out for a few hours.
- A different day, I found toothpaste on sale for $0.50 a tube and I bought a FULL YEARS supply for $6.00! At my normal $2.50-$3.00 / per tube cost, I’d saved over $25!
- And then, my husband lost his job and we were able to survive, in part, due to our food storage.
- Later, I was able to share my food storage with a family in need for a few months and help them get back on their feet.
The thing is, most of us have never been in a natural disaster. And while they are occurring far more frequently, many of us may never be in one. I have never used my food storage, e-prep supplies and savings because of a natural disaster, but I have used it, and often. I have used it:
During job loss
- To cover unexpected bills. We didn’t buy food for a few months b/c we used our food storage instead.
- To wait out high grocery store prices: when milk was crazy high in California after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan we just used our powdered milk (we have the kind that tastes good)
- To make a quick meal for a friend in need without having to run to the grocery store
- To avoid a “quick run” to the grocery store for milk or eggs (during which I inevitably end up buying more than just milk and eggs)
- To avoid spending full price on anything. Since I stock up when things are on sale, I never pay full price for anything. This has been a huge blessing to our family’s grocery budget over the years. (see the toothpaste example above)
- To quickly calm the tears of my child because I was prepared with a bandage in the first aid kit in my car.
- To save the thousands of dollars of food in my freezer when the power went out, but we were able to plug in our solar generator until it came back on.
Even if I never have to use my food storage and other supplies in a true “have to evacuate now” emergency or “end of the world as we know it” situation, I am grateful for it. I am grateful that the Lord commanded me to live providently and to be prepared. It blessed my life nearly every day!
Food Storage and E-prep don’t have to be centered on a disaster mindset. Frankly, living this way is simply smart every day. Being prepared is provident living!
To be clear, if I was to ever face a natural disaster, I would most certainly want to have food storage. I would need it and I want to be prepared for such a situation. In fact, I want to be well prepared. But that is a topic for another day. (-:
Your Thoughts Wanted!
There you have it! Five things I wish I’d know when I was an e-prep “newbie.” What would you add? What thing have you learned about e-prep from experience?
Emergency Preparedness 101
If you’ve found this helpful and consider yourself and e-prep “newbie,” you might consider signing up for my free Emergency Preparedness 101 course. You can find it here: E-Prep 101.