Obviously, since I sell (and buy) food storage and preparedness supplies, I think those supplies are worth the money it costs to get them. I simply see that cost as another type of “insurance” for my family. I pay for medical, dental, car, home, and life insurance without much of a second thought. I want to be able to provide food for my family if I couldn’t get (or afford) food from the grocery store. And since we stock Thrive foods, we are able to use them in our everyday cooking, so the cost isn’t as high as it seems since I spend less on groceries. But regardless, I want to be able to care for my family during and after an emergency situation. I see my food storage, survival kit, water storage, and other supplies as an insurance of sorts. I feel good about the portion of our budget that we commit to those resources.
However, that isn’t to say it isn’t expensive! Stocking up on food and supplies can often seem overwhelming in more ways than one. So much so, that I’m afraid many don’t even start. Today, I’d like to give you a list of 10 things you can do for FREE to help you start that “insurance” for your family:
10 Ways to Prepare for Free
1. Take a Video inventory of your home.
If you were to lose your home or items in your home for any reason, this type of inventory (in addition to a written one) will make the process of making an insurance claim much simpler. Make sure that you also keep a written inventory of any large ticket items (TVs, pianos, etc.) including brand, age, etc. Keep a copy of the inventory somewhere else (a relative’s or friend’s home).
2. Create (and practice) a family evacuation plan.
Would you know what to do if you were told you had 30 minutes to evacuate? 10 minutes? Moments? You can read our family plan here.
3. Create (and practice) a family emergency plan.
Sometimes you have warning of impending danger. Other times, such as with an earthquake, you don’t. Do you (and your children) know what to do in the immediate aftermath of such a situation? Where will you meet? How will you communicate? Do you know where everyone is at different times of the day? Where are each of your children and your spouse at 1 pm? 10 am? etc. Do you know what your children’s schools plan to do in the event of an emergency?
4. Store water in juice and soda bottles.
If you drink juice and soda, rinse them out when you are done with them and store water in them! Make sure they are the plastic (non-refrigerated type) juice bottles, not the milk jug-like ones. If you don’t drink juice and soda, ask a neighbor or friend to save theirs for you (and offer to share your water if the need arose!). I suggest storing a cool, dark place without any bleach or additives if you have a filter and plan to rotate regularly (every 6 months or so). If not, add a drop of bleach to each bottle.
5. Make a written list of all important phone numbers.
If you couldn’t access your cell phone to get the phone numbers, would you be able to reach your spouse? Parents? Doctor? Kid’s school? Etc.?
6. Print 10+ recipes that you can make with 100% shelf stable items.
I know I have a lot of my recipes stored online. If I couldn’t access my computer, I’d still want to be able to cook! (-: Pick a few recipes that you can make with items you regularly keep on hand, and print them out. You can find a whole list of 100% shelf stable recipes here.
7. Brush up your first aid skills.
Do you know how to appropriately give CPR? The Heimlich? Stop bleeding? Treat shock? Treat heat stroke? The American Red Cross offers classes. Some are even free online courses!
8. Learn a few other basic skills.
Can you use a fire extinguisher? Change a tire? Start a fire? Shut off the gas to your home?
8. Teach your children some basic skills.
Do your children know your phone number and address? My 4 yr olds are just getting old enough for this, but since they could speak I’ve worked with them to be able to know my full name, my husband’s full name and where Daddy works. Do they know and have they practiced your family emergency plan? Do they know what to do during and earthquake? Fire? etc.? Have they climbed out of their window onto your rope ladder? Can they call 911? Ready.gov has some fantastic information for kids, complete with fun and games.
9. Understand and plan for your specific risks.
Call your local government emergency management, and find out what things you should know about disasters specific to your area. What sort of warning systems are in place? Find out when you should stay where you are and when you should evacuate instead.
10. Organize your First Aid supplies.
Even if you don’t have an official “kit” it is likely you have some bandages, antibiotic cream, and meds floating around. Organize them so you can get to and use them quickly if needed.
#11. Bonus: Create an Emergency Binder of essential info for your family
You can see the details of our family’s binder here: Important Documents
See? There are many things you can do to become better prepared that don’t cost a cent! I’m sure many of you could add more to this list. If you do, I’d love to have you leave a comment and share your ideas with all of us!
Is time your concern?
For many time is just as big a concern as money. If you fall into that category, you may enjoy this list: Preparedness Projects you can do in 10 minutes or less.
Pin It Now For Later!
Hi Misty. The link to the recipes is broken.
Make a written list of all important phone numbers. We found out about this one the hard way. My husband builds docks for a living and the other day he lost his phone. It had all the numbers he ever called in it, yet we didn’t know what they were. Now, as we get the numbers from people again, we are writing them down and have put them in our household binder.
Sorry that happened! But thanks for sharing so others can learn too!
Scan a copy of your wallet contents. If you loose your wallet you will be glad you know what you’re missing. Also, learning, learning, learning! It does’t cost money to read etc.!
Great one to add to the list Sara. Thanks!
I always forget this one!!! Front and backs of the items in the wallet.
remember just because a product has a sell by date doesn’t mean it wont be fit to eat in a few years time
A) best before –can be used for years –most tinned foods ie. baked beans ,corned beef
B)use by –to be safe use by this date –ie fresh chicken fresh fish
remember use your eyes and nose and if it looks or smells funny don’t
True, but the longer it is passed the date, the less nutrition it has. It may be safe to eat, and provide plenty of calories, but it won’t provide all the nutrients. Best to rotate things as soon as you can when you can.
Thanks for all of the great tips, awesome article 🙂 I shared on Facebook!
I forgot to say that I also tore any food items I get on the BOGO. Love getting deals on pasta and rice.
I found this very informative for someone like me who is just beginning to disaster prep. One thing I do which I consider “free” prepping is take advantage of the BOGO at the store. I never get anything that I won’t use on a regular basis, and I stockpile the free one. I take advantage of these deals everywhere, and am managing to get a lot of things in my basement that I actually haven’t spent any extra money on. OTC meds, shampoos, feminine hygiene, etc. at the drug store. Tape, work gloves, tarps, etc. at the hardware store. I would love to find some good deals for paper products! I could use the savings now, but I think setting aside the “deal” items will be much more beneficial for my family. I look forward to reading more from you.
Country at its best
I love it! I was just talking about cleaning out my storm cellar & stocking it & I’m definitely doing all of this right now. As soon as we moved into our new homestead I started teaching my daughter our address. I;m looking forward to seeing your stuff in the near future <3
i can’t wait for the small space section! its hard to prepare when it seems like you’re tripping over things you’ve already got, let alone adding supplies you can’t use right away
I just wanted to give an AMEN to the video inventory of your home. We were evacuated from our home in July because of a fire nearby, and in the hour before the evac was made official I was racing through the house doing a video inventory; it would have been nice to have had that already in my ready-to-go storage ahead of time & just have to update a few things on it. 🙂
So sorry you were evacuated Nicki. I hope all is well. Thank you for the first hand story though!
Greetings from Georgia. I just finished reading this post-very good. Not sure if it was the article or just the extra down time at the moment but I took the time to go to your store after reading. I had been there before but only seen the large canisters of items. This time I noticed the pouch sizes of items. The green onion and honey ones that I saw were about $6.00 each. That I could afford to do and will since they are small enough to try and see if my family likes them. How about highlighting a product each week with uses, recipes, etc. That may get people more interested in trying the products.
Thanks Ruth! I’m so glad you found the pouches. They can be a great option. And I actually do highlight a product each week: each Tuesday in fact. I will be adding a page soon that makes these posts easier to find.
I have been reading A Distant Eden, and it is apparent that in the event of an “event”, those who have prepared are definitely at an advantage. And a great dis-advantage if they also aren’t properly armed to protect their preparations.
How do you feel about this?
I personally don’t own any firearms at this time. I am pretty familiar with them and at one time I did own a shotgun and hangun. It just seems things can be a lot worse than just being prepared with food, water and shelter. You also have to be able to act as your own militia. I don’t know how I feel about being prepared for that???
Honestly? I have no problem with people owning guns and being prepared to protect themselves. However, I don’t. Many would call me naive, especially since most of my neighbors know that I have a lot of food. But I would like to think that it such a situation, my neighbors and I could be civil and that I would be willing to share. My neighbors may have skills / tools etc. that could help in my survival and I would hope they would share those with me. I think I have a better chance of survival by banding together with others than by alienating them. However, it is something I’ve given a lot of thought to and I’m SURE there are situations where it could be necessary. I think it is smart to have some protection in case. I will likely get some at some point, but it would be an absolute last resort for me.
No don’t get me wrong, I think forming bonds with neighbors or whomever is the best way, the only way. It’s the prevasive presence of malevolence that worries me. I too believe in the goodness of people, but I also believe situations can and do arise that pit the have and the have-nots against each other. I hadn’t even begun to think about roving gangs of these people and I was just wondering if that is any part of preparedness. Because I hadn’t gone there yet. Thank you for your blog, it’s so informative.
The reality here is not about Roving Gangs of thieves. The reality is about the neighbor(s) (and they number into the Many Thousands) who have Not Prepared and who have heard by Word of Mouth that you are happily giving away All your preps.
You need to sit down with your Family and ask their Honest opinion about giving up their comfort, if not their Very Lives, for the comfort of others.
Make no mistake about it. The non-preppers will be lined up outside your door from Morning to Night asking for “Just a little food”, “just a little water”, just a little wood”, etc. etc. until Everything you have is gone, leaving Your Family to starve and freeze because you’ve given it all away.
It is at that point that they will break into your house, trashing the place in their search for more supplies. In their rage at not finding any more and in their belief that You are holding out on them, They will most probably , Kill You and Your Family; especially after you have shown that you’re Not willing to Defend Your Lives or Property.
And That is Human Nature!
Wow. That is a happy picture Shaul. No wonder people shy away from “preppers”…such a grim perspective. But, you are welcome to believe as you do and I believe as I do. I’m not stupid or ignorant. I’m not against defending myself if necessary. But I believe in the goodness of most people and I believe in God. I belive that kindness and generosity are powerful. I will do what I feel prompted to do by God – even if difficult and scary b/c I trust Him. And funny that you assumed I have not discussed this with my family. I have. Here is a post that explains more about how I feel about this: https://simplefamilypreparedness.com/spiritual-self-reliance/
OOooh thanks for the new series! Along with the emergency kit posts, I know it will help my family be prepared for almost anything. And even if I don’t complete every step, I know that at least I’m more prepared than I would’ve been before I found your blog. Thanks again!
You are welcome Deb. ANd you are right…something is MUCH, MUCH better than nothing even if it isn’t everythign!
I love the 6 series you have chosen to cover for 2013! In the 10 tips to prepare for free #4, Why is it that you should not use refrigerated juice bottles? We use a lot of juice but most times the bottles have been placed in the fridge. Also, when and if I decide I want to purchase items from Shelf Reliance do I send you an email letting you know what I want to purchase or how does that work so that I know you are getting the credit for the purchase? Thanks!
You should be fine. I’m talking about the juice bottle that are made of the same plastic that gallon milk jugs are made of. They are textured and it can be really hard to get the sugar out of them. But the ones that are NOT in the refrigerated section of the grocery store (even though you may refrigerate them later) and are smooth should be fine!
I hate to let my old milk jugs go to waste, so I wash and fill them with water to be used for cleaning, bathing, toilet, etc. I also freeze a few, just in case power is out. That can help keep your cold foods cold!
This is so helpful. Thank you.
You are welcome Susan!
Melissa @ Bless This Mess
The telephone one is HUGE… and no, I could NOT call my husband if I had to. How awful is that? What a killer list, so glad I found you via Pinterest 🙂
Thanks for stopping by Melissa!
Storm, the Psychotic Housewife
These are all great ideas! It really doesn’t take a lot of money to start preparing at all. Knowing how to do things is one of the most important preps there is!
Thanks Storm! I agree that knowledge is 3/4 the battle, but I’ve got to get better in that area. There is a LOT I wouldn’t know how to do. Maybe I’ll start a series on that just so I can learn more! (-:
Storm, the Psychotic Housewife
I’d love to read it and learn alongside you! There’s still a lot of things I would love to learn, too.
I’m learning how to preserve my fruits for jams. I’m so sick of throwing away fruit that go’s bad. Now I won’t have to I can make any kind of fruit jam/jelly and it doesn’t cost a thing. I’m saving more by not tossing it in the trash.
What a great post! The “10 ways to prepare for FREE” is a great uplifter-thank you : )
You are welcome Melanie! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
This article is just for me lol, so perfect! Thanks for posting!
But of course Heidi! (-: