If you turn on the news, there’s no doubt that you’ll see people from around the globe who have been affected by natural disasters. Whether it is a brush fire, a tsunami or a massive earthquake, natural disasters can occur at any time and affect even the most prepared.
It’s true that natural disasters have been part of existence from the very beginning, but over time, we have strayed farther away from preparedness. We rely so much on the conveniences of modern-day living that many of us don’t have a backup plan for when disaster strikes. For families that don’t practice self-sufficiency, they have a hard time grasping how a homesteading lifestyle can benefit them in the wake of a disaster. If something terrible did strike, there may not be a grocery store to shop at, a gas station to fill the car with or even a place to work.
As you venture down the homesteading lifestyle, you’ll find that there are rewards greater than just saving money and connecting with Mother Nature. Being self-sufficient allows you to be prepared for natural or human disasters so that your family will survive.
The importance of being prepared for a natural or human disaster
Natural disasters are managed by the fire department, police department, public health department, emergency medical services provider and countless others, which is helpful to those who are injured, sick or in dire need of medical attention. Yet if you have the right supplies on hand and everyone in your family is well, being prepared for an emergency will enable your family to stay together in the comfort of their own home. It’s a wonderful feeling when you don’t have to be dependent on someone. When crisis strikes, things get chaotic and it’s easy to lose control of the situation.
By leading a homesteading lifestyle, you will have an added advantage: you’ll already be prepared to lead a life that is not dependent on grocery stores, gas stations and modern conveniences. You will be in a position to maintain your independence, and you can even help others who are not as fortunate. With independence comes confidence, and instead of being scared of what’s to come or how you will get your next meal, you will know what the immediate future holds. You’ll have food stocked in a pantry; you’ll be able to generate your own power; and you’ll have clean drinking water available.
Being prepared is one of the best gifts you can give to your family. When disaster strikes, it’s too late to be prepared, so this is something that you can’t wait to do. Fortunately, preparedness is something that fits well with homesteading because you will be growing and storing your own foods, generating your own electricity and learning how to be self sufficient. The very fact that you can get your family through an emergency without having to rely on help from others is invaluable.
What types of supplies will my family need?
Food and water are perhaps the most important things your family will need since food and water are necessary for survival. If you store your own food in a root cellar or pantry, then you’re already off to a good start. When stored properly, these food items can last for years and provide your family with the nutrients that are needed to restore their energy. Make sure to have a good balance of food items and ensure that they are labeled correctly. Glass jars are useful for this purpose, but you still need to label the jar with what the food item is and the date that you stored it.
What’s great about storing your own foods is that you control the food source, the quality of the food, the dehydration times and the packing methods. In addition to canning your own fresh produce, you should also have a few other supplies on hand such as flour, sugar, powdered milk, wheat, salt and honey (which if you are beekeeping, you will have on hand!). For items like flour and powdered milk, store them in large gallon buckets using oxygen-removing packets.
There’s no hard set rule as to how much food you need, but many homesteaders recommend having a 1 year supply. (Modern-day preparedness kits only contain a few days worth of non-perishable canned food for one person – yikes!) If you continue to put a few cans away with each harvest, you will build up a good supply over the year. Keep in mind the size of your family as well as their individual nutritional needs. Aim to have a good balance of fruits, vegetables, herbs, beans, powdered goods and seasonings like salt and sugar so that you can make meals.
In addition to having a pantry stocked with food, you will also need clean drinking water (1 gallon every three days for each person) and supplies for your pets. Also save some seeds so that you can eventually grow new produce again.
What should I add in my first aid kit?
In addition to food and water, you will need a first aid kit. If you look online, you’ll find that first aid kits are very expensive, and they only provide you with a few basic supplies. As a homesteader, you can build your own first aid kit that is comprehensive and will meet the needs of your family for an extended period of time. Here is a list of first aid supplies you should have on hand; be sure to modify your kit as necessary.
• Sterile dressings
• Butterfly closure strips
• Antiseptic wipes
• Burn dressing
• Adhesive tape
• Surgical mask
• Cotton swabs
Where will we live?
When disaster strikes, the safest place to live (providing it was not destroyed) is your home. Your home is stocked with food, water and essential supplies, so it will provide you with what you need for a duration of time. Homesteaders who have access to a large backyard may build their own underground shelter or wilderness shelter. You may also build tents if you have to live outdoors for a while. The bottom line is that you should stay as close to home as possible so that you are able maintain your independence.
What skills will come in handy?
If you generate your own electricity, you won’t be affected by the power outages in your community. Living off the grid involves solar power, wind electricity or microhydro electricity. With energy, you can have light, cook meals and provide your home with warmth. Most American families only know how to use commercial electricity, and they feel lost without light, their computer or a TV. By living off the grid, you already know how to generate your own power and conserve electricity when necessary. Once again, generating your own power gives you confidence, independence and self reliance.
In addition to generating your own electricity, you can also stock your own water. Collect water in rain barrels, or collect water from ponds, creeks and streams. You can purchase water purification tablets that will provide you with clean water for drinking, cooking, bathing or cleaning wounds. You may also clean your own water by boiling it, distilling it and adding a chemical treatment. Once cleaned and distilled, you may store water in a cool, dark place, preferably near your canned fruits and vegetables. Include an expiration date, and only store water that has been treated. Water can be a limited resource, so you may not be able to store as much as you would like. Aim to have at least a few days worth of clean water; if the air outside is not contaminated during a disaster, you can collect more and treat the water yourself.
Why it’s important to have a plan
Having a well-stocked pantry and necessary supplies on hand is smart, but you also need to have a plan in action. If a natural disaster were to occur, the scene outdoors would be frantic. Your family needs to know where to go and what to do. Develop a family communication plan so that your family members can be together if disaster strikes. The plan may involve having one person calling or emailing another, and so on. Also consider your pets, and this includes the outdoor animals you may be raising, such as chickens or rabbits. Remember your family’s individual needs, and include emergency documents and necessary supplies like hearing aids, oxygen or wheelchair batteries in your preparedness kit.
Finally, put your preparedness plan into action. You can’t wait until there is a human disaster to practice the plan. Start off by anticipating the events that are most likely to happen in your area, prepare for them accordingly and then practice your plan. If you see that there are problems with your plan, make the changes ahead of time. And remember, by living a homesteading lifestyle, you’re already acquiring the skills that are necessary to survive on your own without the need for today’s conveniences or government. It’s an exhilarating lifestyle that grants you the independence and self-sufficiency that we as humans crave yet have a difficult time achieving, especially in a materialistic world.