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?

3 Tips for Eating More Sustainably and Saving Money

One of the hang-ups that many people have about changing their habits to live more sustainably is that there is sometimes a financial cost. Indeed, boosting your sustainability sometimes means paying a little more up front, and this seems especially true when you are trying to eat in a way that is more sustainable and healthy.

The good news is that you don’t have to break the bank to eat more sustainably. Here are 3 tips that can help you reduce the impact your food has on the environment and save money to boot:

1. Look for Community Supported Agriculture

If possible, find out if there is a community program for local farms. It might be possible to buy shares in a local farm, or buy into a program that delivers local produce right to your door, or you pick it up at a local drop-off. In some cases, you get this produce for less than you would pay at the grocery store — and you know that it comes from a local source, so it wasn’t trucked across continents to get to your dinner table.

This option also works for meat (if you can’t quite make yourself go vegetarian). Find out if there is a local source for meat. You can go in with friends or family on beef. My parents did this successfully for years, splitting the cost of a whole cow with neighbors. Everyone got beef for less per-pound, overall, than they could at the store. This works for fish, poultry and other meat products.

2. Grow Your Own Food

The ultimate way to save money while eating local is to grow food in your own backyard. We have a garden that provides us with fresh, low-cost produce all summer. And, since we use sustainable practices with our gardening, we know that we are keeping the carbon footprint relatively low. It’s also possible for us to preserve the excess for winter months. We often turn our apples into applesauce, and dry our herbs for use year-round. Many vegetables can be efficiently bottled for eating during the winter months. If you have the time and the inclination, this is a great way to save money and eat more sustainably.

3. Reduce Your Consumption of Processed Foods

Processed foods require resources to prepare, as well as to package. By reducing your consumption of processed foods, you can improve your health, help the environment, and possibly save money. You can get bulk nuts, peanut butter (fresh), dried fruits, legumes, and other items relatively inexpensively, and you don’t have to worry about the packaging and processing. You might be surprised at what you can get in bulk. My son recently learned how to make his own granola trail mix, and he loves visiting the bulk aisle for the ingredients. It costs less per ounce than buying pre-made and pre-packaged trail mix, it’s fun to make, and it doesn’t harm the environment as much.

You don’t have to pay a lot to eat healthy and reduce your food-related carbon footprint. A little extra thought, and a willingness to prepare some of your food is likely to do the trick.

What are your tips for saving money while eating sustainably?