You don't have to be a "prepper" to appreciate the value of security in a crisis.
Have a first aid kit.
Keeping at least one kit in your house and one in each vehicle can not only save your sanity, but your health. Whether its a skinned knee, a bee sting, a car accident or a run in with a lawnmower, having first aid items easily accessible can make the difference between a minor accident and a major problem. Our family keeps one centrally located in the hallway bathroom, and even our oldest son knows where to go to get a bandaid. Make sure your family knows where your kits are and how to use the items in it.
You don't need to go out and spend big bucks on a fancy kit either. Buying the items on sale and stocking up when you run low can keep you within budget. Our kit is in an old shoe box.
Here's a list of what the American Red Cross says you should have in your first aid kit:
- 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
- 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
- 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
- 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
- 5 antiseptic wipe packets
- 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
- 1 blanket (space blanket)
- 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
- 1 instant cold compress
- 2 pair of nonlatex gloves (size: large)
- 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
- 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
- 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
- 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
- 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
- Oral thermometer (non-mercury/nonglass)
- 2 triangular bandages
- First aid instruction booklet
Keep family health records together and make sure you have copies.
I have a binder that I keep all of our family information in. Each family member has a plastic sleeve in the binder where extra medical cards or copies are kept, as well as list of medical issues and medications and the kids immunization cards. If you don't feel comfortable keeping these items out, make photocopies and keep the originals in a safe place.
Try to keep 72 hour kits handy and rotate items every 6 months.
If the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina taught us anything, It's that in the case of a natural disaster, be aware that FEMA or the Red Cross may not get to you immediately. Ensuring that your family has enough food, water, and toiletries on hand for at least 72 hours is one of the easiest ways to ensure your families survival and comfort during a crisis. If you already have one, try working with neighbors or elderly family members to put one together for them. Add some entertainment to your kits too; a deck of cards, some crayons and a coloring book, or even some puzzles packed in Ziploc bags don't take much space and can help preserve your sanity. Don't forget about your pets either. They are part of the family.
Know your numbers and keep them where they are easily accessed.
A list of emergency numbers in an easily accessible place is an important tool to being prepared. Your local law enforcement, fire department and hospital numbers could be listed as well as the numbers for your doctor's office. Teach your children how to dial 911 and when it's appropriate to do so. Don't forget the poison control center number too; you never know when you're going to need it.
Try to become debt free.
In the case of a family member losing a job, becoming hurt so they can no longer work, or just for peace of mind, this is an important step to establishing your family's financial security. Becoming debt free ensures that if in the future your family's income is reduced in some way, it's one less worry off of your shoulders. The money you save by not having to pay ever increasing interest rates can be put to better use by paying off long standing debts and creating a nest egg to protect your family.
Budgeting, couponing, and creating a small stockpile in your home of things you use regularly can go a long way to ensuring that your family lives comfortably in a time of financial insecurity. Use websites like Save At Home Mommy and The Coupon Project for great tips on when and how to "stock up". Stockpiling does not mean you need 300 tubes of toothpaste in the garage. Just buying a few on sale and keeping them on hand saves you money in the long run; you've paid the lowest price possible and you've saved gas by not running to the store when you run out.
Using sites like Mint.com and DaveRamsey.com can help you track your spending and see where you can cut expenses.
If you enjoy my "5 Ways" Friday posts, let me know in the comments. And if you have any suggestions for future Fridays, let me know that too!