Like many people, I’ve been watching the situation in Ukraine with concern and sympathy for what the Ukrainians are going are through. As a parent, it is especially heartbreaking to see families trying to evacuate with their small children. And, of course, I can’t help but think about what I would do in that situation. We haven’t updated our emergency plan since having a baby and it has made me realize we need to take some important emergency planning steps.
1. Make a Plan
Obviously, one of the biggest emergency planning steps is making a plan. If things go bad and you need to evacuate for weather, for unrest, or for whatever reason, where are you going to go? How are you going to get there? What are your communication plans to let others know of your plans? What if you have to leave the country? That’s obviously a more difficult question – and it may not be one that you can answer.
2. Have a Go Bag
Sometimes in an emergency, you have time to plan. But sometimes you just have to grab your stuff and run. This is why you should have a bag (or even a Rubbermaid-type bin) of supplies you might need. Ready.gov has some great lists that you can download and edit to your specifications. But in general, you’ll need food, water, medications, clothing, first aid supplies, a flashlight, prescription medications, eyeglasses or contacts if you wear them, and a number of other things. It’s a lot to think about.
Years ago, I bought a pre-made bag that contained a lot of these things – which have now expired. Also there’s no way I could get my baby to eat the high-calorie foods that came in those bags. So clearly it’s time that my husband and I sit down and make an emergency kit, most likely in a storage bin.
3. Have Shelter In Place Supplies
Depending on your situation, your go bag/bin can also be part of your shelter in place supplies. These are the things that you want to have around in case you get stuck at home and can’t get out for any supplies you might need. This is definitely important if you live in an area with severe winters because it’s easy to get stuck home with no way to get to the store. In many ways, it can be easier to have the food and water you need, because you can make this part of your regular daily supplies, such as making sure you always have a good amount of canned food on your shelves, using it as needed and replacing. We also keep gallons of drinking water available and though we don’t use bottled water often, we make a point to always use the water before replacing, even if it just means using it to water plants.
Common wisdom says you should have up to 30 days of prescription medication available. For a lot of us, that’s not possible. We have what we need, maybe with a few days of padding between refills. If you’re in this situation, talk with your doctor and see if you can get an extra week’s worth of medication. It’s better than nothing, and make sure you always stay on top of picking up your refills.
4. Build a Get Home Bag
Do you work outside the home? If something happens while you’re at work, do you have a plan to get home? If public transportation is down and you can’t drive? My husband and I are lucky to be able to work at offices under ten miles from our house – so it’s walkable. It’s not necessarily easily walkable, but we’re both in good health so we’d be able to walk home – assuming we had proper supplies. What are those supplies? Walking shoes, for one. If I’m in heels at work that day, there’s no way I’m walking two miles in them, much less ten. We would also need water, a snack, and probably a flashlight and reflective gear. Walking ten miles takes a while.
These are just some of the small steps. Check out Ready.gov for more tips on creating an emergency plan and pulling your supplies together. It’s going to take us some time and effort to pull our plans together but it will be worth it to have the peace of mind.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.