"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
December 31, 2014
Preparing One Day at a Time
by Carolyn Nicolaysen

Tomorrow begins a new year. This is the time many commit to changing or improving some of the things not quite right in their lives. On our Totally Ready facebook page we have spent the last year building our General Store, and those of you who have been following along now have a three month supply of the foods your family eats, including desserts!

Food prices are on the rise again. Just five years ago the United States was able to produce enough food for all those living here plus enough for another small country. We now produce less than 80% of what our citizens need.

Hackers attacked and crippled a major corporation and we realize now how easily hackers could take down the entire economy. Winter storms are predicted to be the worst in decades and we have already seen evidence of that happening. Terroism is on the rise.

Let January be the month you get serious about protecting your family from an uncertain future. So many issues are out of our reach to solve, but many can be addressed by simply planning, saving, organizing, and building up our family resources. By doing just one thing each day you can make great strides this month.

January 1:  Meet with your family and tell them of your intention to spend the month of January preparing to be more self-reliant in case of an emergency. Tell your family this may involve purchasing some items. It may mean some sacrifices will have to be made.

Get a coin bank and tell everyone if they would like to help, that you will be placing your spare change in the bank every night, and they can do the same. Tell them any family member contributing will get to help decide what to purchase. This will help your children feel included and empowered and also help teach them a little about money management.

Beginning today, save your pocket change at the end of each day.  Make saving a part of your dinnertime ritual. Use this money to take advantage of sale prices or to accelerate your self-reliance goals. Determine a budget for the month to be used strictly for improving your prepredness situation.

January 2: Call grocery stores and bakeries and ask if they have 5-gallon buckets they are willing to give away or sell. Sometimes they will just give them to you. These can be used to store grains, pet food, or even to stack your food pouches in so the pests can’t get to them. It may also be used as an appendage to your 72-hour kits, a small grab-and-go.

January 3: Check the water you have stored in bottles and jugs. Dump and replace any that is older than 1 year. Gather empty canning jars and fill them with water.  Flip the lid over so the metal side is down, not the gasket, and your lids will remain usable for canning later.

Return jars to their boxes on your shelves and you have added to your water storage. Water stored in this way does not need to be processed. 

January 4: Read or watch the talk “If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear” by President Gordon B. Hinckley.

January 5: Visit Our General Store project at the Totally Ready Facebook page and add the items listed to your storage this week. Family Home Evening discuss what you will do if the power fails.

Turn off the lights and spend the rest of the night “without power.” Place tape over all light switches, hide all the remotes, collect all cell phones and ipads. Make treats after the power goes out. Encourage the kids to get their homework done before FHE, but if they don’t make them finish by lantern light!

January 6: Make a list of the items you wish you had had last night during your power outage. At dinner tonight, ask the family what they feel you need to do now to prepare for an outage that lasts for days or weeks.

January 7: Purchase one of the items on the list you generated last night. If you couldn’t think of anything you were without, then stock up on the batteries you would need for flashlights and lanterns.

January 8: It’s shoe day! Place a sturdy pair of shoes under each bed in your home. If you have young children, place the shoes where they can be easily found by an older family member in the dark.

Take a pair of good walking shoes to work. If an emergency arises at work and you are unable to drive home you may be on foot and will need good shoes. You will also want an extra pair in the car in case you are caught away from home and away from the office. These are also important in case of a roadside emergency if your shoes get wet while changing a tire or awaiting rescue.

January 9: Post emergency phone numbers next to each phone. Remember not only numbers for the police and fire departments, hospital and doctors, and poison control but also the schools, out of state contact, friends, family, and your own phone numbers.

A babysitter may need to call your cell phone, or a child may forget phone numbers during an emergency. Be sure to include your street address on this list. If a friend or babysitter has to call for help from your home, she will need to be able to tell rescuers the address.

January 10: Prepare a meal completely from your General Store. Use only items in food storage, not in the fridge.

January 11: As a family read: “In the Aftermath of the Tornado.” (Ensign, July, 2012)

January 12: For Family Home Evening, brainstorm with your family a list of talents and resources you have that might be used for barter or to help after a disaster. Create a list of things you will need help with or supplies you may need to purchase to aid in a clean up effort such as shovels, brooms and even disinfectants.

January 13: Place two blankets in the trunk of your car. If you have three rows of seats in your vehicle, you will need three blankets. You never know when you may be stalled in traffic for an accident or lost on a trip to the mountains and forced to remain in your car for an extended period without being able to use the heater.

Likewise, during the summer blankets can be used to shelter you from the heat.

January 14: Learn to use a fire extinguisher. If you don’t already own one, now is the time to get at least one for every floor in your home.

January 15: Place an extra set of keys in your 72-hour kits, at work, and with your out-of-area contact person. Keys should include not only house and vehicle but also vacation home, boat, safe deposit box, office, padlocks used on the shed, and to your evacuation destination.

January 16: Check your food storage area. Place mouse traps around the area. Be sure the area is dark and cool. If the area can flood, get all your supplies off the floor.

January 17: Plan now for a fabulous garden. No matter how small your yard or balcony you can plant something. Growing your own food is an important skill. If you are clueless ask a friend for help or review some of the many tutorials online.

January 18: Read “Becoming Self Reliant” by L. Tom Perry (Ensign, October, 1991).

January 19: Inventory the stock of pet food, cleaning supplies and toiletries in your General Store.

January 20: Gather together all over-the-counter medications and check the expiration dates. Discard any liquid medications that have expired. Tablets are good at least two years beyond the expiration.  Make a list of those items you need to purchase and post it in your kitchen. Read through the weekly ads and replace the items on the list when they are on sale.

January 21: Make a list of handicapped or elderly family, neighbors, and friends who may need help with food or other supplies during an emergency. This list may also include those who financially cannot prepare. Make it a goal to help them do all they can on their own and then plan for them in the creation of your own General Store.

January 22: Place a magnetic note pad on the door of the refrigerator or place a note pad and pen in your food storage room. Every time you use items from your storage, record it on your note pad. When you use another place a hash mark next to the item.

Do this until the items go on sale and you can replace them at a reduced price. Once you have your three-month supply, you never have to pay full price again.

January 23: Fill out emergency cards for each family member to keep in their wallet and/or school back pack. These should include home phone number, cell phones, home address, nearby friend or relative and an out-of-state contact.

Remember everyone should have the same out-of-state contact and phone them immediately after a disaster strikes. That person can then relay messages to the rest of the family as they check in. 

January 24: Prune fruit trees and bushes. If you are unsure how to do this, ask a friend or visit your local nursery and ask them for direction. Pruning results in a better yield and a healthier tree.

January 25: Read “Food Storage” by Bishop Vaughn J Featherstone (Ensign, May, 1976) and “A New Message” (Ensign, March, 2009)

January 26: For Family Home Evening, play What If :

What if you were not at home when_____________________ emergency happened? (Fill in the blank with the emergency most likely to occur in your area). Ask each family member, including the adults what they would do.

  • What if you were at a friend’s home?

  • What if you were at work?

  • What if mom and/or dad are at work?

  • What if you were at school?

  • What if you were shopping?

This will give you the opportunity to make sure your family all knows who to call or — in the case of adults and teens — where your meeting place will be.  

January 27: Prepare dinner using only food storage, nothing from the fridge or freezer.

January 28: Now that you have prepared dinner from food storage twice you should have an idea where you need to “beef” up your General Store. Make a list of items you need to purchase.

January 29: Check the grocery ads today and use the money you have been setting aside each day to purchase some of the items you brainstormed yesterday.

January 30: Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. 

January 31: Make foil dinners. These are fun for the family and a great way to cook after a natural disaster when power or cooking facilities are unavailable. You can prepare these in a fire pit or barbeque. Great time to make sure you have plenty of foil on your General Store shelves. It's another good reason to have a Scout Handbook. 

Now, a parting thought to ponder: Although the Savior’s parable of the Ten Virgins was mainly given to teach us about the spiritual snares that await the unprepared, having the temporal equivalent of oil in our lamps may be just as essential to the well-being of our families when soaring food prices, wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards and floods can affect so many in turbulent times.

For specific help with food storage or other self reliance questions contact Carolyn at: carolyn@totallyready.com. Every Monday on the Totally Ready facebook page Carolyn posts to do items for that week to be Totally Ready and to build your preparedness supplies. Check it out.

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About Carolyn Nicolaysen

Carolyn Nicolaysen grew up in New Jersey and joined the Church while attending Central College in Pella, Iowa. With a degree in Home Economics, she later worked as a high school teacher, and served as an elected trustee of her local school board. Carolyn has taught personal and family preparedness to all who will listen. Having lived in areas that were threatened by winter storms, hurricanes and tornadoes, and now living in an earthquake prone area, she has developed a passion for preparedness. Carolyn started her own business, TotallyReady, when she saw the need for higher quality emergency information that could truly sustain families in a disaster.

Carolyn is FEMA trained and is an Amateur Radio first responder. She serves as Relief Society president of her California ward.

Carolyn is the author of three ebooks, Mother Hubbard, What She's Doing Now (food storage for the 21st century), Prep Not Panic (preparing for a pandemic of medical emergency) and That Won't Happen to Me (a discussion of disaster preparations). She has also authored a glove box book, Totally Ready for the Road and writes a monthly newsletter and the Totally Ready facebook page.

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