If the coronavirus showed us one thing, it was that the U.S. — and the world, for that matter — was underprepared for a worldwide catastrophe. As the pandemic disrupted supply chains, shuttered businesses, and shut down economies, everyone scrambled to pull together what they needed for the ensuing months in quarantine. The results? Everyone stocked up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
While it’s nice to both have a solid stock of soft, double-ply and be able to wash your hands in a pinch, the truth is, no one really knew what the heck they needed to be ready for a genuine, bonafide disaster.
Preparing Your Home for the Next Disaster
Now that the first stage of the COVID-19 crisis is behind us and the grocery store shelves are restocked (at least for the moment), it’s time for everyone to take a deep breath, look back at the lessons that the previous few months taught us, and prepare for the future.
In particular, it’s important to make sure that the homefront is ready to go, should you need to harbor there again for an extended period of time. Here is a list of the top tips and activities that you should consider implementing in your home before the next crisis strikes.
A Quick Note Before Starting
Keep in mind, this isn’t a comprehensive list.
In the same way that someone in Florida should consider hurricane prep while someone in upstate NY should be thinking about potential blizzards, each situation warrants a different set of preparation instructions. However, you can use this list as a starting point to create a long-term disaster preparedness plan for your particular circumstances.
Solidify Your Staples
First thing’s first: make sure that you have a solid store of the basic survival staples. While this can include toilet paper and hand sanitizer, it should also include other emergency kit basics, such as a three-day supply of water, food, and medications, spare batteries, a multi-purpose tool, and a hand-crank radio.
Additionally, consider setting up a chicken coop for eggs (and meat if things get serious), purchasing a generator for alternative power, and growing a victory garden to help you keep food on the table if supplies get low.
Privatize Your Property
If things go seriously south and everyone is looking for supplies or is out of power, you don’t necessarily want the whole neighborhood knowing that you’re cooking up delicious food in a house that’s well-lit by a generator. Even if you completely trust your neighbors and would invite them over to hunker down together, it’s still helpful to have the ability to withdraw into your own privacy if you want to.
With that in mind, make sure that you:
- Hang solid black-out curtains to obscure the view into your home.
- Plant screening trees and shrubs to provide greater privacy in your yard.
- Install cameras and motion-activated floodlights so that you know if someone comes onto your property.
You can gauge the intensity of your privacy efforts depending on your relationship with your neighbors and the kind of area that you live. However, it’s important to at least give it serious thought to the possibility of a lack of privacy before a disaster strikes.
Create a Home Maintenance Checklist
If you have to shelter in place for months at a time again, you may not be able to access professional help for a while. While it’s helpful to have a good supply of food and water, it’s also wise to consider how to care for your home during a lockdown as well.
Go over your home from top to bottom and create a maintenance checklist of what you should be keeping an eye on if you’re left to care for your house on your own. Things to consider include:
- Sealing drafts around windows and doors.
- Trimming back trees and brush that grow near your house.
- Maintaining your gutters.
- Cleaning out your furnace and air conditioning units.
- Taking care of your lawnmower.
- Having plumbing tools and materials on hand to fix leaks.
- Stocking replacement fire and carbon monoxide detectors.
There are plenty of things to keep up on around your house. Make sure you’re aware of the most important items so that you can keep an eye on them if you’re holed up in your home on your own for a while.
Finally, if you want to truly anticipate successfully living through the next catastrophe, it’s worthwhile to consider adopting a minimalist lifestyle in the here and now. Minimalism revolves around only keeping things that genuinely provide you worth. If you have excess, don’t feel the need to keep it around cluttering up your living space.
This doesn’t just apply to those old high school soccer trophies, either. You can have a “reduce, reuse, and recycle” mindset with everything. Your clothes can be worn until they wear out — and even then they can be turned into rags. Food scraps and other edible waste can be saved for leftovers, used for compost, or fed to the chickens.
The point is, start living with greater austerity now and it won’t feel as dramatic in the future — plus you’ll reduce your impact on both the environment and your bank account in the process.
Preparing The Homefront for Disaster
There are many things to tend to in the event of a disaster. Most preparations tend to revolve around the need for staples like food, drink, and heat. However, it’s also critical that you prepare your shelter — that is, your home — for whatever may come your way.
If you button up your dwelling so that it can weather any catastrophe, you’ll position yourself to be in better shape right from the get-go the next time life throws you a curveball.