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How many times have you made a “To Do” list? I am a great list maker – and “To Do” lists are among my favorites! (There’s also my “Books to Read” list, “Movies To Watch” list, “Things I Want” list, and many more.) I make a “To Do” list almost every day, and it really does help me get things done.

So the other day, I was thinking about our family’s emergency preparedness, and I was making a list of some of the things I still need to do or buy. Even though I’ve gotten a lot done towards our family’s preparedness, the list has gotten longer as I’ve learned more, but that’s to be expected, I’d say.

As I looked at my list of things we still need to do here, it suddenly hit me that sometimes (especially without a list) we think we are more prepared than we actually are. Because we are planning to do something, or we know we should do something, in our minds sometimes we forget that we actually need to do that thing.

Let’s take a look at some of the basics that should be done…Look at each one individually and think about it before you move on – I bet you’ll find at least one or two items that need attention at your home.

First Things First:

  • Do you have a family plan, and do the family members know about it, in accordance with their age and understanding?  
  • Does everyone in your family know what to do if there were a fire (or flood, earthquake, tornado, hurricane, tsunami, etc. –whatever your area is prone to)?
  • Do you know when and how to turn off the gas meter to your house, and is a wrench designated for that purpose kept nearby?
  • Do you have a backup form of electricity?
  • Do you have an emergency kit in your car? Is it stocked as well as you’d like?


  • Do you have a way to cook if the electricity were off? Do you know how to operate your camp stove, build a fire, use firestarters? Do you have the non-food items you need for cooking with that method? (Pots, pans, spatula, matches, etc.)


  • Do you have flashlights? Do you know where they are, and are the batteries fresh? Do you have extra batteries? Can you find your flashlights in the dark?
  • If you plan to use candles at all, does everyone in your house understand how to use candles safely? And do you have candle holders and matches stored near the candles? Do you have a fire extinguisher and know how to use it?

News and Information, Communication:

  • Do you have some way to hear news from the outside world – like a battery-operated or wind-up radio or a ham radio? Do you know how to work it?
  • Do you have a way to charge your cell phone, or have a phone that doesn’t rely on electricity to work? Does your family know the out-of-town contact to check in with if an emergency happens while you are separated from each other?

Food and Water:

  • Do you have food stored that your family will eat, including the children? Do you know how to prepare it with the facilities on hand? Do you have extra snacks that don’t require preparation?
  • Do you have enough water stored for your family, taking into consideration hydration, sanitation, and cooking? Stored water won’t last forever, so has it been rotated when it needed to be? Do you have a way to sterilize the water if you need to?


  • Do you have a way to keep warm once it is cold, if your heat were turned off? Do you have extra blankets and jackets, and know where they are kept?
  • Do you have extra clothes for each member of the family, ready to go if you needed to leave home in a hurry?
  • If you have a kerosene heater, are you positive you know how to operate it safely? And do you have extra fuel?

These are a lot of questions, I know. But taken one at a time, they can really make a difference in how prepared you are. Or pick out 2 or 3 to add to your “To Do” list, and get them crossed off soon. Your “To Do” list needs to periodically include a review of all of these things, and you and your family can be safe and protected.

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