Basic Emergency Preparedness Tips

When natural disasters hit, or when extreme weather like the snowfall seen across the Eastern United States is seen, my thoughts turn to emergency preparedness.

The proper emergency preparedness steps can help you save money in the long run, since you won’t be as vulnerable to some of the costs and difficulties that can come with an emergency. When you are in the midst of an emergency, it’s not the time to prepare. You need to be ready ahead of time. And if you do take the time to prepare little by little, you won’t have to spend a lot of money all at once. Here are 3 tips that can help you improve your emergency preparedness:

1. Figure Out What You Need

Your first step is to figure out what you need. What if you weren’t able to get to the store for a few days? What would you eat or drink? What if the water and power went out? How would you cook and wash up? Think about these situations and then make a list of things you might need to help you through these times. In most cases, being able to get through a week or two is probably enough.

Think about how you would get through, and then make a list of things you might need.

2. Buy Things Gradually

It can be a financial nightmare to go to the store and immediately get everything you need for emergency preparedness. Instead of buying enough food to last you for a month all in one go, get a few extra things at a time. Get an extra bag of frozen vegetables, or buy two or three extra cans of tuna. The same thing applies to other emergency supplies. You can buy a couple of hand-crank flashlights on one trip, and purchase an extra blanket on another trip. Get extra toilet paper on a trip, and a new First-Aid kit on another. You’ll make the whole thing more manageable if you plan ahead and build your store gradually.

For larger purchases, you might need to set aside money. If you want to buy a generator or if you want to by a propane heater or a new grill for cooking when the power or gas goes out, you might need to put together a short-term savings goal to help you save up for what you need.

3. Rotate Your Stores

Basic Emergency Preparedness Tips

A few items each week …

Finally, make sure you rotate your stores and regularly check what you have. Hand-crank flash lights and radios need to be cranked every couple of months in order to remain efficient. You should rotate through your food storage so that food isn’t going bad. You can replace what you use the next week. Regularly check 72-hour kits and First-Aid kits and replace items that you might have used.

Make sure your stores are kept in an accessible place. You want to be able to get to what you need quickly and easily — even if you are just grabbing a bag to bring with you in the car. Speaking of which, it’s a good practice to keep your gas tank at least half full at all times so that you can leave quickly, and get a reasonable distance away, without waiting in gas lines.

What are your best tips for emergency preparedness?

6 Signs that Your Car is a Rolling Piece of Junk

How do you know if you’re driving a clunker? If your car’s name includes the words Gremlin or Pacer, stop reading and go buy yourself a new car this minute. You know these cars are bad when Disney calls them out by basing characters called “The Lemons” on these vehicles in the movie “Cars 2.” For the rest of you who need help discerning whether your car is, in fact, a rolling piece of junk, here are your six signs.

Sign #6: A Bucket of Bolts

You say your car makes noises that sound like a bunch of bolts rattling around in a bucket? The crystal ball reveals many visits to an automotive repair shop in your future. Or, perhaps you’ve already spent hundreds of dollars over the past year fixing your fixer-up. If that’s the case, it’s time to reevaluate your strategy.

Buying a new car isn’t as difficult as you may think with excellent deals from Instant Auto. Certainly, getting a new-to-you car is better than pouring money into a losing proposition (i.e. your clunker). Use the Kelly Blue Book or other method to determine the value of your car. If you’re spending more money on repairs than the car’s worth, it’s time to upgrade.

Sign #5: Your Car has a Drinking Problem

Old cars drink too much gas. This drinking problem ends up draining your wallet dry at the pump. If you drive a great deal and have an older vehicle that isn’t fuel efficient, consider the money you’d save with a newer car that has better mileage. In addition, clunkers may have other problems such as bad tires that put a drain on fuel efficiency.

Sign #4: It Plays Cassettes

First, congratulations on knowing what an 8-track cassette is, and double kudos for still owning a device that plays them. What’s that you say? Your car plays the smaller cassettes? While it may be kind of kitsch to have a cassette player, it’s definitely a sign you’re driving a hunk of junk. Dump your mix tape and find yourself a better ride.

Sign #3: The Oh-No Odometer

If that ever-rolling set of numbers on your dashboard has hit 100,000, you’re starting to flirt with clunker territory. A car with that many miles is more likely to need repairs than cars with less wear and tear. While many cars built in the last 15 years can handle six-digit miles, older models don’t have the parts to withstand that level of use. It’s best to evaluate your car’s worth against typical repairs that come post-100,000 miles.

The level of routine maintenance your car has had during its lifespan impacts how well it will fair with this many miles. Hitting this mileage milestone is a good time to evaluate your car and decide if it’s ready for the junkyard.

Sign #2: Undiagnosed Problems

Does your car have chronic warning light syndrome? With this condition, one or more warning lights on the dashboard remain on whenever the car is in operation. When these symptoms first appeared, you took the car to a mechanic who went through the usual checklist. However, no one could give you a clear reason why your car was suffering, trying to communicate its need yet failing miserably.

Sign #1: You’re Afraid to Drive Your Car Long Distances

Taking your vehicle out on the open road for any period of time makes you nervous, nervous enough to have the cell phone fully charged and emergency food and drinks on hand. As you click off the miles, you wonder if a serious problem is going to rear its ugly head and leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. Maybe it’s the car’s age, mileage, clunking sounds, or recent repairs that make your stomach turn. Whatever the cause, if you don’t feel comfortable taking your car beyond the city limits, you may be driving a piece of junk.

Rid yourself of the car that only goes in whatever direction the wind is blowing. Upgrade to a newer vehicle that will save you time, money, and headaches. Sure, you may miss your junker, but in the end, you’ll know you made the right decision.