Exercise Three: Important Documents

19 Apr

This post is part of a series of exercises about how to begin preparing for emergencies. See the complete list of posts here.

Keep your documents by your side, even in an emergency (photo credit: basketman)

Remember that three ring binder you’ve been hanging onto for a few days?

Now’s the time to fill it with important information. If an emergency were to occur and you had mere seconds to evacuate, you would potentially lose all of your official documents and government-issued forms of identification. If you keep photocopies (or even originals) of these documents in your binder, you can grab it on your way out the door without a second thought.

Here are some items that you may want to include in your binder:

  • Copies of debit and credit cards (front and back)
  • Ownership titles (house, car, boat, etc)
  • Your will
  • School transcripts/certifications
  • Insurance information
  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Marriage license
  • Copy of your drivers license
  • Passport
  • Copy of gun permits


  • Medical history/list of medications and dosage
  • List of firearm serial numbers
  • Contact information for doctors, pharmacies, credit card companies, family members, etc.

Keep this binder in a VERY safe place. Remember, you are responsible for your own security and  privacy. If you want, keep this information in an encrypted folder on a flash drive – email me if you want instructions or recommendations on how to do this. I’d love to hear from you!

We’ll put more items into your binder later on in the week! We’ll also start shopping (yay!) for supplies to store in your apartment, and we’ll talk about ways to maximize storage in small spaces. Until then…be smart and safe!


Dealing with Anxiety

17 Apr

As I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s easy to get overwhelmed – and quickly – when just beginning your journey into preparedness. Just when you think that you’ve planned out how much water buy and food to stockpile, people start talking about HAM radios, faraday cages, and steps to take during a nuclear attack. It can be scary, and it can make you feel like you are nowhere near prepared enough to survive anything that may be coming. 

When you start feeling like you’re being crushed by the weight of your as-yet-incomplete preparations, just remember that the fact that you’re thinking about a plan makes you more prepared than most people in the country. Sure, everyone on survival forums has three “BOLs” and enough resources to survive 157 waves of zombies, but that group is a small subset of the country’s population. Many people do not have as much as a week’s worth of food in their home or apartment. If you are just getting started with your prepping, follow along with our bi-weekly exercises and you’ll learn how to build an escape (or stay-put) plan, how to stock up on your essentials, and how to defend yourself when in a crunch. It won’t happen overnight, so resist the urge to buy a super-deluxe survival kit online, or run to the store and buy 100lbs of wheatberries. Those kits are filled with things that may not be useful to your unique situation, and those wheatberries? Useless without a grain mill! 

So again – be patient. The fact that you’re here and reading this blog (and hopefully others!) means that you’re on the right track. 

Weekend Fun

15 Apr

Hey all!

It’s been a pretty quiet weekend here so far…I’ve been doing a LOT of spring cleaning in my apartment, and I’ve managed to clear out a lot of junk from my closets, dressers, and kitchen drawers. Having extra storage space is an important part of being prepared, because food and water take up a ton of space! I have a waste-not-want-not mindset, which is great 95% of the time – I repurpose my old items and save a lot of money – however, it does make it hard for me to decide when to give up and throw things away. I usually try to donate most items that I no longer need, but sometimes I just have to bite the bullet and throw the useless stuff in the trash.

I ran a 10K this morning, and I’m feeling a little sleepy and sore. Do any of you run (or do other exercise) in order to be prepared for emergencies? I started jogging just for fun, but now I like knowing that I could run pretty far if my life depended on it. Anyway, I’m going to leave you with some links and then go put more ice on my knees!

  • Great blog about organizing in general…keep those spaces clean!
  • Do you have old, expired coupons laying around? Did you know they can be donated to our troops? Learn more here.
  • For that matter, here are some ideas about where to donate all sorts of no-longer-needed items.
  • Just discovered this blog today – I’M IN LOVE. Lots of fun DIY projects that are apartment, budget, and environmentally friendly.

That’s all for now! Enjoy the rest of your day!

What are you up to this weekend?

New Items to Pack

13 Apr

I posted this morning about the small survival items I keep in my purse.  I hadn’t updated my bag in a while, so I started thinking about what else I may want to add. I have three new ideas to share with you:

  • I wrapped several feet of duct tape around my old drivers license. Duct tape is super-handy, and my old license can serve as a last-ditch form of ID in case I would need it.
  • I wrapped several yards of toilet paper around a stick of deodorant. This should be self-explanatory 🙂 but if you do the same, make sure you use unscented deodorant so that you don’t draw attention to yourself if you have to go out in the wilderness.
  • I cleaned out my drier and put the lint into a small plastic baggie. Did you know that drier lint is great tinder? Plus, it’s free! ALWAYS good for those of us on tight budgets.

I have a larger pack that I plan to carry if an emergency arises and I need to leave my apartment, but I do like to keep my purse stocked just in case something comes up while I’m away from my 72-hour kit.

Do you have any more ideas for my purse?


What’s in YOUR purse?

12 Apr

Ladies, is your purse as big as mine? I feel like my posture has been permanently ruined from carrying a huge, heavy bag on the same shoulder for 8 years and counting. Before I started prepping, my purse would hold books, sunglasses, gum, books, my wallet, and books (notice a theme?). Now that I’m a little more prepared, here’s a partial list of what I tote around. An added benefit: anything that’s in my purse doesn’t take up any storage space in my apartment!

  •  A small flashlight
  • A small first aid kit
  • A Leatherman multi-tool
  • Water in a steel bottle
  • Assorted granola bars (I’ve been liking Clif
  • CPR mask and latex/rubber gloves
  • Pepper spray
  • Extra hair ties
  • Sunscreen
  • Survival blanket
  • Reusable shopping bag (I have one that folds up to the size of a cell phone)
  • Small radio
  • Garbage bag

It sounds like a lot, but it actually doesn’t take up too much space….good thing, because I still tote around a small library every day. I recently finished Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) and The Hot Zone (Richard Preston), I would HIGHLY recommend both!

Do you carry any survival items in your purse (or backpack)?

Read any good books lately? 🙂

Stock your purse with survival essentials (Photo credit: Ohmega1982)

Exercise Two: Building a Specific Plan

11 Apr

Your evacuation route may be full - come up with several alternatives.

By now, you’ve spent a day or so thinking about potential catastrophes that might occur where you live. The next step is only slightly more labor-intensive, but when you’re done you’ll be  more prepared than most Americans to handle an emergency!

Review your list from Exercise One.  For each circled item, consider:

  • If this event were to occur, would I evacuate the city or stay in my apartment?
  • If I evacuate, what route would I take? What if that route is blocked? What should I take with me? Where will I go, and how long will I stay there?
  • What will I do if I must evacuate quickly and with little warning? What will I take with me?
  • If I stay in the city, how long will the emergency last? Will I have electricity and running water? How will I protect my apartment from potential looters?
  • What if I am away from my apartment when a disaster occurs? Will I return to my apartment or my car? Will I run away? What should I take with me?

Once you have thought through these questions, begin writing down your specific plans for each of the four or five circled emergencies. You can use this printable pdf if you would like! Write down:

  • Whether you will evacuate or hunker down.
  • How long the crisis might last.
  • Which resources you will need to survive.
  • Where you should store these resources (i.e. if you evacuate, store food and water in the trunk of your car).

Also write down at least two evacuation routes, regardless of whether or not you plan to leave the city when disaster strikes. Remember, you may not have a choice.

Now stick that paper in your 3-ring binder and call it a day! Next time we’ll begin filling your binder with important documents so they’re not left behind during a short-notice evacuation.

Do you feel better now that you have a solid plan?

Extra credit: Locate personal documents such as your Social Security Card, birth certificate, marriage license, passport, etc. If you would like, buy tabbed dividers for your 3-ring binder.

Car Safety Tools

10 Apr

This morning I tweeted about window breakers. Have you seen those before? They look like small hammers, but their tip is specially designed to break through car windows in case of emergency.  If your door was jammed and you needed to get out of your car, a window smasher could save your life. They often come with seatbelt cutter blades, making them multi-purpose safety tools.

I keep a large window breaker (like this) in my car, but I also have a small one on my key chain in case I ever run into trouble while riding with someone else.  I LOVE the mini one because it detaches from your key ring with only a sharp tug, so you can use it even while your keys are in the ignition. This was actually a Christmas present from my grandma…she’s so smart!

Do you have a window smasher in your car?

Do you own a mini one too? 

My List

10 Apr

I did Exercise 1 this morning so I could share my answers with you! Here’s my complete list, in no particular order. I bolded the emergencies that I decided were most likely to occur.

  • Flood/Tornado/Hurricane/Earthquake…natural disasters
  • Riot/general urban unrest
  • Fire in my building
  • Long-term power outage (possibly due to weather, above)
  • Widespread food shortages
  • Loss of job
  • Government takeover/martial law
  • Economic collapse
  • Terrorist attack
  • Asteroid hits the earth
  • Global pandemic
  • Zombies (just had to include this one!)

In my opinion, the smaller-scale events are more probable than the global catastrophes. My part of the country is subject to tornadoes, so that was one of the first things I circled. I think that most cities could be in danger of riots. Power outages were next on my mind because I had lived through several extended ones during my childhood  in Pennsylvania. Finally, I picked fire because I live in a high-rise with several hundred other people who may or may not know how to safely operate a stove!

The others range from somewhat plausible to really “out-there,” so I’ll  concentrate on these four potential emergencies for now.

I already have a 3-ring binder on hand, so I stuck my list in the front pocket and went on with my day!

Have you done the exercise yet?

What sort of emergencies are you worried about? 

Exercise One: Relaxation and Realism

9 Apr

Living in a high-rise prevents unique challenges in a survival situation.
(Picture credit: Peter Oresved)

Note: over the next several days, I’ll be publishing a list of several exercises to get you thinking about survival topics. These are meant to serve as an introduction to the world of emergency preparedness, and more thorough discussions of each idea will come at a later date.

Take a deep breath.

If you’ve been reading around survival/prepping blogs, you are probably a little overwhelmed, confused, or even scared. Hardcore enthusiasts throw around acronyms like TEOTWAWKI (“the end of the world as we know it”) and WTSHTF (“when the s*** hits the fan”) to explain why they are prepping. Might major, world-changing events happen within our lifetimes? Sure. But what is more likely are sporadic power outages, bad weather, and street riots. In these situations, you will hopefully only need to hunker down for a few weeks – at most –  as opposed to escaping to the wilderness for the foreseeable future  (although we’ll eventually talk about that option as well).

So first off: take a deep breath. Relax. Don’t’ be scared. The sky is (probably) not falling, and panicking about the future will definitely not help you in the event of a real emergency.

Feeling better yet? Good. Then it’s time for our first exercise.

Exercise 1: Being realistic

As a city dweller, it’s unlikely that your apartment will be attacked by feral wolves. More likely? A gang fight, a riot erupting after a sporting event, or a power outage affecting your block. The types of emergencies that may affect you will dictate the type of planning that you do.

Take 10 minutes, sit down with a pencil and paper, and list every emergency you can think of. Write down everything from the relatively commonplace, like losing your job, to the  unlikely ones, like zombie attacks and asteroid strikes. Keep writing until your imagination is exhausted.

Now, take a good hard look at your list and think about your city, your apartment, and your family (or lack thereof). Which four or five events are most likely to happen to you? Circle the emergencies that are realistic, and cross off the ones that are preposterous in comparison.  Leave the others untouched:you can prepare for them after you take care of the top-priority circled items.

Look at the emergencies you circled, and briefly think about what sort of planning will be required to survive each one. Are you worried about losing your job? Food storage and a large savings account should be important to you. Concerned about a fire in your building? Planning various escape routes will be vital for your survival.  Are zombies on your list? Well then email me, because obviously you know something that I don’t!

For the next day or so, spend more time thinking about your concerns and what resources you will need to get through these emergencies. You will find that you will look at your surroundings with a more observant eye. You may even become conscious of superfluous expenses and bad habits (three-a-day designer coffees? Yeah, I’m guilty of that). Don’t worry about changing these habits yet…it’s enough that you’re aware of them.

My next post will deal with ways to make specific action plans for your emergencies. After that, we’ll put together a list of resources, and then start creating shopping lists to bulk up on our supplies.

Have a great day! Be smart!


Extra credit: Buy or repurpose a small 3-ring binder and place your emergency list in the front pocket. We’ll refer back to the list later on, and we’ll be filling the binder with important personal documents.


8 Apr

Living in a small space? You can still be prepared in an emergency.
(Photocredit: photostock)

Hello everyone!

I’m starting this blog because I’m moving from my comfy suburban residence to a small apartment in a city due to work requirements.  As someone who grew up in the woods of Pennsylvania, the idea of being constantly within a stones throw of several thousand people is a little scary.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to get myself, my car, and my apartment ready in case of an emergency (be it a power outage, natural disaster, or terrorist attack).  Unfortunately, my most reliable source of information (a quick Google search) yielded few useful ideas for people living in small spaces. My apartment is about 800 square feet in a high rise building. I don’t have a yard or a terrace. Storage space is at a premium, and I already have a LOT of clothes and books that are fighting for their spots on my shelves.  So what can I do?

The extremists – survivalists, preppers, or whatever you may call them – favor living on large tracts of land, living “off the grid,”, and becoming as self-sufficient as possible in terms of resource production and storage. I think that these are all fantastic ideas, and I applaud those that can live in this manner! Unfortunately, my lifestyle just doesn’t allow me to have a 3 acre garden, raise chickens, or keep a years supply of water and food close at hand.

So here I am – doing my best, where I am, with what I have. If you’re in a similar situation, or just want to hear my unique perspective on these topics, then please read along!  I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice, so comment freely and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

Be smart,