As my regular readers know, I started So Over Debt to document my recovery from financial disaster. Today, though, I want to talk to you about how to prepare for other types of disasters – and how that preparation can affect your wallet.
On Wednesday morning, I woke up to the sound of tornado sirens. Since Kentucky is part of Hoosier Alley (one of Tornado Alley’s cousins), this wasn’t a huge shock – the watches and warnings are so frequent in the spring, we don’t tend to get too excited about them.
Ten minutes after I dropped Jayden off at school, a suspected tornado (I say that only because it hasn’t been confirmed yet) ripped most of the roof off the gym. With the kids inside the gym, including mine, waiting for the bell to go to first period. Luckily no one was injured, but my friends on Twitter and Facebook can confirm that I was one crazed lunatic while I waited for updates.
But Wait! There’s More!!!
As if Wednesday’s events weren’t enough excitement, today’s forecast looks even worse. The National Weather Service is predicting some SERIOUS storm action in the areas surrounding Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. In my area specifically, it looks like we’ll have some rain and hail early in the morning, then 2 separate periods when tornadoes are very likely.
I’ll be honest. Part of me wants to pack up Jayden and the dogs, get in the car, and drive west until I find some normal weather. After the panic I felt when I saw his school on the news (because the school district didn’t bother to call us, but that’s a whole other rant), I’m not sure I can deal with it again. Yet I have to, because that’s life.
Last night I spent some time gathering up supplies for the approaching storms, just in case we end up spending the day in the basement. (And can I just say how utterly THRILLED I am to have a basement right now?) I already had everything I needed – like I said, we’re used to this – but I got complacent since our last big tornado in 2008 and didn’t have it all in a centralized location.
The Cost of Making an Emergency Kit
It can be kind of expensive to prepare for natural disasters like tornadoes. I think it helps if you consider it an investment – it’s not like you’re going to use all this stuff every few months. At least I hope not! I’ve had most of my supplies for years, just sitting around waiting to be used. Here’s what you need to survive a potential stay in a basement or other form of shelter:
- Large outdoor trashcan or storage tote – $10 (I emptied mine awhile back and started using it for other things, but that was stupid. If you put all your supplies in a big container, you can put it a corner and forget about it until you need it.)
- First aid kit – $20
- Blankets – $10 or so each
- Flashlight – $15 if you want a halfway decent one
- Batteries – $10 (Remember to replace these periodically – they won’t help if they’re dead)
- Candles and matches – $10
- Water – $10 (I recommend both gallons and individual bottles)
- Cups – free from your kitchen (because it’s really hard to drink from a gallon jug)
- Non-perishable food items and a manual can opener – probably also free from your kitchen
- Battery-operated weather radio – $30
- Baby wipes – $5
- Extra cell phone chargers – Varies depending on what kind of phone you have
- Food for your pets if you have any – Varies depending on the animal and type of food
- A bucket – $8 (because some shelters don’t have bathrooms)
There are countless other things you could add to your kit, but those are the most basic essentials. You’re looking at less than $150 to survive for a few days in the event that your home is destroyed by a storm or disaster. Worth it? I’d say so, especially considering the very real possibility that I could find out today while you’re reading this post.
Non-Essential Survival Supplies
I’m as prepared as I can be for the weather today, but I’m not discounting the possibility that we may sit around in the basement for no good reason. I don’t know if you’ve ever spent hours in a basement with a child, but allow me to spoil the surprise – IT SUCKS! Because of that, I carted a few more items downstairs to keep from committing child abuse.
- TV – Yes, really. I moved a TV downstairs, because at least it will allow us to watch something other than the clock. Plus I can keep up with the weather as long as the power doesn’t go out.
- Chairs – My basement is unfinished. It’s pretty gross, actually. I learned the last time we had to go down there that it’s no fun to stand around for hours, nor is it thrilling to sit on the concrete floor. So I grabbed a couple of chairs for us to sit in and (possibly) sleep on.
- The iPad – As long as I have wifi, I can read blogs, update my Facebook status, and surf the internet while we’re waiting. And even if the power/wifi goes out, we’ll have 10 hours to play Angry Birds before the battery dies.
- Books, crayons, and paper – It’s always good to have some low-tech distractions available in case everything else is unusable. And I will admit that coloring is therapeutic, even for teenagers. And adults. Or so I’ve heard.
- Personal items – My photo albums, important documents, and other hard-to-replace items are in a waterproof container under the stairs, just in case.
Can You Ever REALLY Prepare For a Disaster?
I’ve been very lucky that I’ve never been directly affected by a tornado, even though we’ve had plenty of them in my lifetime. I know plenty of people who have been though. Some houses were destroyed beyond repair, some just needed a lot of work. However, I did endure an ice storm in 2009 that left us without power or water for 9 days. After that experience, I’m determined to do as much as I can to keep myself and my son safe (and somewhat comfortable).
Obviously an emergency kit is no guarantee that you’ll survive a natural disaster. However, your chances are much better if you have one. Designate a portion of your budget toward the purchase of items you may need, starting with the most important. I would much rather curse the pile of emergency supplies taking up space in my house (as I’ve done many times) than curse myself for failing to be prepared.
Have you ever experienced a natural disaster? How prepared (or unprepared) were you? What would you add to my lists of survival items?