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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently read about a family who went four weeks without power following a hurricane. I was wondering what a "reasonable" amount of money would be to spend preparing for a natural disaster?

I was thinking like $10,000. But everyone thinks I'm crazy. Would a percentage of household income be a better measuring stick?
 

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To survive a month? That does seem like a lot.

I think the first step is to try to figure out what potential disasters you're most likely to face and then what the worst case is. Then try to estimate the cost.

How did you arrive at the $10k figure?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I haven't put any significant research into it, but for two people:

1: 2 months worth of food and water
2: A generator w/ fuel
3: Possibly a wood burning stove, which is mostly based on aesthetic value. 🙂
4: First Aid stuff, lanterns ect;

It's probably over kill. I just think want th o find that balance between crazy and prepared.
 

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We keep a stockpile of food and other necessities because it is cheaper to buy in bulk and when those things are discounted. We don't have enough water, but filling up a few containers doesn't cost a lot. First aid stuff that we use regularly is logical to keep at home, but I see little point in preparing for a life without working hospitals.

I wouldn't invest in a generator unless I needed it regularly. It needs to be run at regular intervals to be sure it will work. We have a wood burning stove because it makes economic sense to heat with wood, and a solar panel that is large enough to keep phones charged, and run a tiny fridge. We are planning to get more solar panels, because the cost/benefit is getting decent.
 

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I don't think there's a formula for this. You have to look at what kind of disaster you're expecting, a hurricane can be very different than a tornado, and you may or may not be in danger of flooding. Consider the dangers faced in each. Do you need a tornado safe room, or a reinforced foundation, or cables to hold the roof down? What about trees on your property? If one comes down on the house you could be killed, or the damage could make the home unlivable no matter how much food you have stockpiled. Are you willing to remove mature trees to be safe?

Fuel is going to be an issue, I think. Generators don't last long. People were out 2-3 days after Florence looking for fuel and there was none. You'd have to stockpile a lot, and that is not safe. Do you have experience tending a wood stove or any kind of fire? Wood gets wet and won't burn after a storm like that. Do you know how to bank a fire so it burns slower, saving you fuel? Or faster so you can cook over it? What electronic devices are you relying on for communication and information? How will you keep them charged? What will you do if the network is out and you are cut off?

You'll have water for drinking, but what about bathing and laundry? Trust me, things get stinky and nasty fast, and you can't count on being able to get fresh water from taps and especially not from local rivers which are easily contaminated when debris gets thrown around.

Do you have pets to care for? Elderly or disabled family or neighbors?

Finally, what are you going to do when the police or National Guard show up and tell you that evacuation is mandatory?

Just some things to think about.
 
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All good points.

I think a general emergency fund of at least $10k is not a bad idea. If your job is lost permanently or temporarily due to a natural disaster, I would assume your regular expenses will still go on such as mortgage, insurance premiums, etc. even while your income may stop. You may need to replace simple items like clothing, toiletries, laundry supplies, etc. so would need some money for that type of thing. Insurance and/or FEMA aren't going to pay out for weeks or longer, so having access to money would be helpful. You should keep a large EF in a bank, not in cash.


What I was thinking of when you asked about money, I was thinking about the cost of supplies. That would vary a lot depending on your lifestyle, the area you live in, storage space you have, etc.

If you can DIY stuff or do stuff on the cheap, of course that will make it less expensive to plan for a disaster. It doesn't have to be costly to set up go bags, for example. You need some changes of clothes, but they don't have to be really nice clothes. In fact, if you might have to be picking through rubble or cutting up fallen trees, you will want comfortable clothes that can take a beating. Stuff from garage sales would be fine, and while you're at it, you can pick up a duffel for a couple bucks to store all your go stuff in. We each have a duffel, plus one for our five pets.

Take stock of what you already have. No point duplicating things. We own a camper. If we have time to hitch in an emergency, dragging our camper along assures us of a place to live wherever we end up, and also contains minimal canned foods, laundry supplies, etc. We bought the camper for vacations, but since we already have it, it's part of our preparedness. Look around to see if you already have things you can use in an emergency.

There are lots of ways to prep. I think the first step is to figure out what your most likely disaster would be. In reality, it's most likely to be a house fire, maybe that's a good place to start.
 

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Depending on the emergency and your ability to stockpile, anything is better than nothing.

I read about when Argentina/Venezuela/Greece fell into severe economy problems. Now, that wasn't a natural disaster, but the outcome from that can be like a natural disaster! My number one thing to do is make friends. Neighbors nearby are a huge help if you need to barter or trade for items. Cash and anything valuable is good in case you are able to buy or trade as well.

I do keep some food here, blankets/camping items, candles, matches, etc. and we do have solar panels/gas/electric for appliances and such. If one of those go out, hopefully, another can kick in. Batteries are necessary and I think a crank radio that can get signals is helpful. Any medications/eye contacts need to be thought of.

I carry a duffel in my car with food/light/blanket and I should probably put some cash in there as well.
 

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It also is helpful to have someplace to go. I try to pay my bills as soon as I receive them. Most are on bill pay with my credit union. During one of the worst fires in LA, I drove to my parents' home in Northern CA. I came back after a few days. Up here in the mountains, I keep a large bag of dog food and treats, prepare meals in advance, order extra firewood each year for the fireplace insert, and have plenty of hand knit wool and alpaca clothing and blankets. Generally our power outages are for less than 24 hours. I use candles and oil lamps, and just stay in the bedroom. It's cozy and warm. My cast iron bathtub holds a lot of water. I have some canned goods, as well. Watching the weather report and planning ahead makes a huge difference. Since we have had freezing temps here at night, I leave the faucets dripping overnight. I also feed the fireplace twice during the night. It's much easier than having to restart a fire in the early morning. Had the cabin stained to protect the wood, had the chimney cleaned, and made the house as warm and comfortable as possible.
 
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