Prepping: Why It’s Important for EVERYONE to be Prepared

The word “prepper” is still often a hot button word in conversations when it comes up, but prepping isn’t only for the “crazies”.  We got another first-hand “in your face” experience 5 days ago about why prepping is so important, and just how far our family has to go in terms of learning to be prepared.  Some of you may have read the story over on Three Thrifty Guys this past winter about how we came dangerously close to running out of propane.  Luckily, with 30-below zero temps looming at that time, we had a back-up electric heat furnace to rely on, and the only true inconveniences we experienced were the inability to bathe/shower, and the inability to cook on our stove.  We made good use of our crockpot and stunk for a couple of days, but all was, in reality, fine.

Sunday we got another lesson on the importance of prepping, and it’s one that anybody could easily fall prey to.  It was raining, not hard, but steady, and the winds were blowing pretty harshly.  No thunder and lightning, at least not until later, just rain and strong winds for several hours on end.  Imagine our surprise, then, when the electricity went out.  A quick call from my cell phone to the power company and we found out that a pretty large area (52 customers, which, in the country, is a pretty large area) here was without power, and would be for several hours.

Oh well, no biggie, right?  It’s spring, so we don’t have to worry about heating much. It’s daytime, so we can go without light for awhile. Soon, it was getting cold in the house so I switched our system to the propane heat since we do have propane :-).  Unfortunately, you can’t turn on the propane heat system without electricity.  We couldn’t open the fridge, out of fear of ruining our food supply, and the well system also runs via electricity, so shorty after we lost power, we had no water access either.  No drinking water, no washing our hands, no washing clothes, and no ability to flush the toilets if someone had to poo.   Not only could we not provide ourselves with water, the horses had no access to water either, and those babies drink a lot.  Without an ample supply of water, horses can colic and die.

Things were a bit annoying without electricity,  but we were having fun, playing games and talking.  The no TV/no computer thing made us a bit agitated (there’s a difference between choosing to be unplugged and being forced to be unplugged) as we don’t have smart phones. We couldn’t check the weather to make sure that severe weather wasn’t on its way.  The phone lines were down too, at first, but came up shortly afterward, but as the hours dragged on, we started to realize just how unprepared we really are.  We had a couple of flashlights, and batteries, but our camping lanterns, which provide up to 9 hours of light via a charger, were dead, so using those wasn’t an option should it start to get really dark.   We’ve been slack on our emergency water supply (I’ve been using it up b/c it was expired, but not buying more), and we had very little in terms of ready-to-eat foods.  Luckily, we could manually light our gas stove (which needs electricity to ignite) so we had some dinner.

Obviously, we weren’t in “real” danger.  We had a full tank of gas, and have family and friends close by. But what if this power outage had gone on for several days instead of several hours?  What if, for whatever reason, we couldn’t leave the house?  What if the roads were washed out due to torrential rains or blocked due to debris from a tornado or other storm?  What then?  Not only would we’ve been screwed for water, heat and any substantial amount of food, we would’ve put other lives, such as those of fire, police and/or National Guard rescue teams, in danger trying to rescue our sorry arses.

As we sat, stuck inside with not much to do, we started to talk about how we’ll be more prepared in case a similar situation arises again.  Some of our plans:

-get the wood-burning stove installed.  Yeah, we get the importance of this now.

-make sure the camping lanterns are always charged (they’re charging as we speak 🙂 )

-make sure at least one cell phone is always charged (mine was near dead at the time of the outage, but luckily, Maddie and Rick had theirs charged up). BTW, we like Republic Wireless as they have plans starting at $5/month.

-replenish our emergency water supply

-gather a decent stockpile of snacks and ready-to-eat foods

So, who needs to be at least a little bit of a prepper?  Every single person on earth who is in danger of falling prey to one of the following situations: earthquakes, fires, rain and/or thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and every other natural disaster or terrorist attack (for instance, on a power grid) possibility on earth.  When it comes to prepping, it’s vitally important to think of “what if” scenarios.  If a storm/earthquake/attack of some kind did come, do you have the ability to find some way to provide you and your loved ones with food?  With heat?  With cooler air if there’s a dangerous heat wave and no power?  With water?  With protection from looters/rioters who are freaking out because they have no food/water for their own babies?

Six hours later, the power was back on, thanks to the awesome crew over at Xcel Energy.  We watched as several Xcel trucks drove back and forth by our house, working to get the problem solved.  We are truly grateful for their commitment to providing power to our neighborhood, and truly thankful for their willingness to stand out in the pouring rain and do what needed to be done.  There were lots of hugs and shrieks of gratefulness here when the power went back on.  We don’t often think about the importance of our electricity supply, until we’re stuck without it, that is.

Prepping isn’t just for the crazies – it’s for everyone who needs food, water and heat to survive.   The need for prepping items doesn’t just come from wild visions of the country going crazy, it can come from the simplest of inconveniences, like a power outage from a stronger-than-normal wind.    Choose today to educate yourself and get yourself and your family prepared for whatever dangers are inherent to the area in which you live.  If trouble comes, you’ll be glad you did.

50 comments

  1. I guess it depends on where you live. I don’t worry too much about this stuff in NYC as we don’t face too many natural disasters. Even after Sandy, there were so many resources for getting the essentials. It helps to live in such a densely populated place where everything is just a walk away.

    • Laurie says:

      Living in a densely populated area can also be a huge downfall during a crisis, as there are more people that might really lose it if things get bad. I know others who live in NYC that were hit hard by Sandy and found themselves in quite a mess. Be careful, my friend!

      • Mrs PoP says:

        I remember the blackout of 2003 that affected much of the eastern seaboard,especially NYC. Many lost power for 2 days. High rise dwellers had to walk up dozens of flights of stairs to get to their apartments and folks who we’re living and working in different boroughs had to walk back (in the summer) since cabs were nearly impossible to get at that time. May buildings didn’t have the generator capacity that was needed for their residents for that long of a period.

        • Laurie says:

          Wow – that’s scary stuff, Mrs. Pop!!! And this is what I’m talking about: we often don’t think about those types of ramifications until we’re stuck dealing with them. 🙁

  2. Kathy says:

    Can I just say two words? Stand-by generator. We have a whole house generator that runs off our natural gas line. You could get one hooked in to your propane line. We survived the aftermath of a tornado and an ice storm, both of which disrupted electricity for days. At the time we just had a portable generator which involved switching and scheduling what appliance etc. was hooked up at any given time. Plus, you need cans of gasoline on hand, which many people feel is unsafe. So at our current residence we installed a whole house generator. It cost us $5000 and the peace of mind it has provided is incalculable.

    Oh, I also have to say that I’m surprised that you have horses. Unless you are a breeder, they don’t bring in much income and can be huge money pits in terms of feed and vet bills. As frugal as you are in most other ways, this seems just a little out of character.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks for the info on the generator, Kathy, I will show this to Rick. Yes, we’ve got two horses, both of whom were brought to us and we were asked to take them. We prayed, felt led to take them, and even as we’ve embarked on this financial journey, we’ve prayed several times about selling them, but we’ve always felt a very strong “no” from the Lord. We felt Him speak to us before we got this place that it was to be used as a safe haven for animals, so we are simply following His lead. One thing we’ve learned is that God, in His wisdom, can see the big picture a whole lot better than we can, so, even when it doesn’t make sense, we try hard to follow His instructions to us. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your concern, Kathy – I do appreciate it. 🙂

  3. “there’s a difference between choosing to be unplugged and being forced to be unplugged” ain’t that the truth?

    After we had a couple sizable earthquakes a month or so ago, I was very up on making sure I had the britta water thing filled and a backup water bottle, my cell phone was full charged, etc. But it’s so easy to get back into the grind of life again and forget. I do have one 3-day emergency kit from the red cross, but I’m not even sure how long they last before some things aren’t very useful anymore. A good reminder for me to re-check everything. I may forget to have a full tank of gas, fully charged phone, etc., but I can do better than what I’m doing. Glad your power was turned out rather quickly!

    • Laurie says:

      You guys have had more than your fair share of quakes lately, that’s for sure. Good point about the full tank of gas too. We always try and make sure ours is above half.

  4. I’ve been thinking about this recently, how completely unprepared we’d be for any emergency…whether at home or in our car. I’m not a huge prepper but having emergency items on hand wouldn’t hurt!

  5. So glad it all turned out ok in the end Laurie and sounds like it was a good lesson learned. I know my in-laws have prepped quite a bit since they live in San Diego in the case they get a bad earthquake. We, on the other hand, not so much. The big risk we’d run into is bad storms so we could stand to take care of some things.

    • Laurie says:

      You know, it’s amazing: like you, our biggest danger is storms, but seeing some of these people, especially in the last week, and how SOL they are because of these d__n storms, it makes you really want to step up the prepping.

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, we are kinda sorta prepared, but really need to do better. I don’t want to be stuck in a long-term outage situation with no resources. We’ll be stocking up this weekend.

  6. We lost power a few years ago from a hurricane up here and got a similar lesson in preparedness. From that point on, I have kind of become crazy about having candles, flashlights and other supplies to stay prepared. And my “craziness” was actually rewarded last year when we lost power for 10 days thanks to hurricane Sandy. We have so many things going on in our lives that it is hard to keep it all straight, but when learning lessons pop up like these, we really need to learn from them.

    • Laurie says:

      Wow- Shannon – this is what I’m talking about!!! I’ll bet you were SO glad to know you had what you needed when Sandy hit. Great job on being prepared!

  7. It’s amazing what we learn about our life when we are forced to. Now that this has happened you know to plan better in case it happens in the future. Planning is so important in all facets of life even though we can only plan so far. Sometimes plans fail but I’d rather be somewhat ready then not ready at all. Glad to hear it worked out for you.

    • Laurie says:

      Exactly, Mr. CBB! I love what you said about being somewhat ready rather than not ready at all. Something is better than nothing, right?

  8. It’s true – we forget how reliant we are on electricity and running water until we no longer have it. Living in LA, they stress earthquake preparedness quite a bit. So we definitely try to keep the basics, just in case. The hard part is we all get a bit lax. We eat the food, drink the water and forget to replace it because nothing has happened and there are more important things to do. Until, of course, you need it. Glad everything turned out okay! Have a great weekend, Laurie!

    • Laurie says:

      Good to hear you guys work to keep some things on hand in case of a quake, too. We learned, luckily not too hard, that we need to always be stocked up!

  9. There’s so much more prepping I can do it’s not even funny. We have a small stockpile of food, but not much water and hardly anything else. I worry about what would happen in Minnesota for most families (ours included) if the electricity went out for an extended period of time.

    • Laurie says:

      Yes, I do too, DC, and we got a bit of a taste of that scenario. It’s really made us get more serious about making sure we have at least enough basics on hand to last us a couple of days.

  10. E.M. says:

    This is a good reminder, thanks Laurie! Having just moved in, we don’t have much of a stockpile for anything. I have candles, but no flashlights or batteries. When I was up north, Sandy left us without power for five days. All of us were house-hopping to those that got power back first! I was lucky that my job had power, too, so I charged everything there. The phone lines were down, though, and I just remember being so worried about everyone else.

    • Laurie says:

      Wow – five days, E.M.!! That would’ve been NOT fun. Glad you made it through okay – our short six-hour stint without power really made us realize that we are not at all prepared for a several day type of an outage.

  11. I often see those emergency kits at Costco (one year’s supply of food even) and I never really figured out who they were for. Now I see their importance!

    In NYC, we do have those Ad Council posters everywhere which advertise the need for being prepared in an emergency. If you go here: http://www.ready.gov/Today they’ve got some interesting side-by-side comparisons of a rather regular day right before a terrible weather accident. Shows you the need to be prepared for anything regardless of where you live!

    • Laurie says:

      That’s a great site, Tara, thanks for sharing the link! I think things are really so easy for all of us here, as far as having access to whatever we need, that we don’t often think about what would happen if the basic needs went away for an extended period of time.

  12. I am the worst when it comes to being a “prepper”. I was probably slightly more prepared in the winter because I didn’t like to drive in the snow and we know how long Minnesota blizzards can last. 🙂 Once I had to go a couple of days without power and it was definitely a pain. To me, winters are scarier because it can get so cold awfully fast. I honestly need to bolster my supplies in case something happens, and get some extra stuff for Max too. He relies on me to take care of him too! :)Have a great weekend!

    • Laurie says:

      Yes, I think it’s easy to forget about our beloved animals too, when it comes to prepping. When I realized we might not have enough water for the horses, and what that would mean for a potential long-term outage, I have to say it freaked me out a bit. 🙁

  13. jim says:

    Laurie,
    Thank you for writing this. I was raised this way and the “boy scout” in me always thought this made sense. Be prepared – you may be the only one who is and will, therefore, be the only one who can help those who aren’t. There’s nothing weird about that – it’s actually a really good thing.

    • Laurie says:

      “Be prepared – you may be the only one who is and will, therefore, be the only one who can help those who aren’t.” LOVE that, Jim. It’s not just about us, but about those around us too.

  14. anna says:

    I agree prepping is important – we had a black out here in SoCal for a big bulk of the day and throughout the night, and it was crazy how fast the streets became gridlocked, cars were out of gas because the atm and cash registers wouldn’t work, and how supermarkets couldn’t sell stuff because of the same reason! I had some camping gear that was helpful, but had it gone on longer we would have had a more difficult time. I’m glad to hear that yours wasn’t too long, either, but it’s a good reminder to stock up just a bit more!

    • Laurie says:

      Wow, Anna, that must’ve been scary!!! You guys got a good taste of what a longer-term disaster can cause. Reading these comments has put a bigger fire under me. We are stocking up TODAY. Thanks, Anna. 🙂

  15. I was taught (and followed the counsel) to be prepared, long before it was cool or crazy– or before anyone even used the term “prepping” or “prepper.”

    We have a well with an electric pump, so when the electricity goes out (and it happens more than we’d like), so does the water. We (well, my in-laws) have four 55 gallon drums filled with water in the basement along with many other jugs of water. We’ve used that water many times during prolonged outages (we’re not high on the priority list out here).

    I agree it’s important for everyone to be prepared, even if it’s only a 72 hour kit that you’ve prepared and store in a hall closet. If you don’t ever need it– great! If you do, you’ll be so glad you have it!

    • Laurie says:

      Love the idea about the 55 gallon drums filled with water. I’ve also read on other prepper sites about manual pumps that you can attach to your well, but apparently, they’re a good chunk of change. Would be worth it, though, I think. And I love your last line. That about sums up the epitome of this post!

  16. “We don’t often think about the importance of our electricity supply, until we’re stuck without it, that is”

    It’s a great point Laurie, and like so many other things in life – health, friends, money, good food, freedom – we often don’t appreciate them until they’re taken away from us.

    A fantastic reminder to be as prepared as you can for everything in life. And awesome that despite a pretty frustrating situation for you and your family, you were able to learn and share a great lesson from it, and keep a positive attitude!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Jason. Yeah, it was interesting. It made us think about being resourceful real quick, and it made us realize how many resources we need to stock up on too.

  17. Great post Laurie! You’re right, prepping isn’t just for crazies! lol

    My wife and I have a shelf with MREs, dry goods and other products that would be helpful if something happened. We’re not totally reliant on it, but it really gives my wife a great sense of security and, for that alone, it’s worth it!

    We’re currently stationed in Oklahoma, so tornadoes are obviously a real threat here. We are prepared!

    • Laurie says:

      Good for you guys for being prepared, Kalen, and yes, you’re right: if you’re wife feels secure, it’s a win already. 🙂 I wish more people understood the dangers of not being prepared. Things are so easy in this country, and I think it’s easy to forget (as we did during the electricity outage) how quickly things can go awry.

  18. What a great article, proving two extremely important things: first, that you have to be prepared (not necessarily for an apocalypse, but at least for a few days) and second – how much we depend on electricity/others to live. This is pretty scary in many “What if” scenarios.

    In my case, I’m starting to get a bit of the craze surrounding the Ukraine/Russia problems. Being in Romania and at the border of Ukraine, the word “war” starts to be heard more and more often. And even though I am 99% sure that there will be no war (at least not in Romania), I started to feel the need to be prepared – in terms of food and water. One thing that will skyrocket is the price of… everything and having as much as possible stocked up before that happens… well, that’s a good idea! 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      I think about you guys a lot regarding the whole Ukraine situation, C, and you’re so right. Even something as simple as rising food prices (which we are seeing here as well) can put families in a mess real quick, and being prepared, whether by stockpiling food at cheaper prices, or by having your financial crap together so that those rising prices don’t hurt as bad, can go a long way in preventing a lot of trouble.

  19. Pingback: Weekly Roundup {April 27-May4} | The Budget Mama
  20. Events like that really make us realize how prepared (or unprepared) we are. Glad you guys are OK. We were incredibly thankful for my parents’ generator when we were at their house over Christmas. We lost power for days, but were able to stay warm and well fed thanks to the generator. If we lived in a single family I’d definitely consider buying one just for the peace of mind.

    • Laurie says:

      I remember that, KK!! We are strongly considering a generator now. When we saw how quickly options for heat and water disappeared, it woke us up to the true need to have more backup systems in place.

Comments are closed.