Chance favors the prepared!

5 Tips you SHOULD do Every Day to Stay Prepared

EDC, things to be preparedI see the question all the time, “I’m new to prepping and am looking for tips on getting started.” Enviably, that is answered by others with tips on creating bug out bags, storing food and water, purchasing firearms, etc. And while those are certainly very important, many times I see simple, everyday tasks that get overlooked.

And these tasks are not hard. They are easy. Easy enough that everyone should do them. These tips will help you not just in a disaster setting, but also in everyday life.

Always keep your phone charged.

In my 8 Lessons Learned from Disaster article, I mentioned an officer whose battery died while working in Moore, Oklahoma after a tornado, and was unable to communicate with anyone.

Imagine if you are caught in a quickly developing emergency, and your primary source of up to the minute information is dying because your battery is not charged. Not smart!

Having knowledge about what is going on around you is vital to your ability to survive a disaster. Being able to communicate is equally important. With today’s technology, a smart phone allows you to do both.

When a tornado recently hit my area, I used my cell phone to live stream the weather, and to text my family to keep them apprised of the situation. During that storm, my phone battery had plenty of life in it should I have had to make a speedy exit. I stayed up to the minute with news and information during the entire storm.

Not only do I keep my cell phone charged, I have several ways of ensuring it stays charged. I keep a car charger in my truck and an extra wall charger in my EDC bag. I also have a Goal Zero solar panel charger and a hand crank emergency radio that will charge cell phones.

With today’s smart phones, a lot of the old myths about battery life no longer apply. You no longer need to let batteries drain all the way to zero before charging them. In fact, experts now say that if you let your lithium-ion batteries continually drain to 0%, they could become unstable.

In addition, with today’s smart phones, you can continue to use your phone while it is charging. And experts say that today’s batteries are smart enough that they will stop charging when full.

Just be sure to try and keep your phone battery at optimal temperatures. Extreme heat and cold can slowly kill you phone battery.

If you are short on time and want to get as much charge as possible, put your phone on “Airplane Mode” while charging. This will help your phone to charge faster. (I have been told that playing games in Airplane mode stops annoying ads. I have not tried it because I don’t play many games on my phone.)

Even if you have no cell coverage, your phone can still help you be located if you become lost or stranded. So keep it charged and ready to go at all times.

gas-tankKeep your gas tank full

It is a sinking, terrible feeling to be caught up in an emergency setting, and your gas tank needle is rapidly approaching E! Or imagine being caught in a terrible traffic accident on the highway, where you are stuck in traffic and barely moving. The nearest gas station might be 10 miles away, but you are creeping along and now almost out of gas.

When disaster strikes and you need to leave the area ASAP, the last thing you want to worry about is fuel. You may not be able to fill up. Electricity may be down and the gas pumps may not be working correctly. Or your planned evacuation route may not be accessible, and you may have to spend time and gas finding another route to your destination.

Having a full tank is really a backup plan should you find yourself in any of the aforementioned scenarios.

Personally, I always fill up at about half a tank, meaning I generally have a half tank reserve in all my vehicles. I cannot remember the last time one of my vehicles got to a quarter of a tank. It has just become second nature to me to fill up at half a tank.

As for the myth about only filling up early in the morning or at night, it is just not true. According to Joe Bruzek of Cars.com, the reason this myth is around is because

The reasoning is when the fuel is cooler, it’s denser. A denser fuel will pack more energy in the same amount of space, so you’ll get more bang for your buck. While density may change with temperature, underground storage tanks sit 15 to 20 feet below the surface so the fuel stays around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. One of the only times that you’ll find a warmer, less-dense gas is if the fuel doesn’t have time to cool off after being pumped into the underground tanks. Fuel temperature stabilizes quickly, so the chances of this making any difference are slim.

So if you are on your way home from work and your gas needle drops below half a tank, you might consider pulling into a gas station and filling up.

Also keep in mind that you may not need to spend extra money on higher octane fuel. A new report from AAA says that drivers wasted over $2 billion (that’s BILLION) on premium gasoline over the past year. AAA has found that

premium gasoline doesn’t improve performance, fuel efficiency or emissions for vehicles that run on regular-grade fuel. Yet an estimated 16.5 million Americans have opted to pay for premium gasoline at least once in the last 12 months, believing it’s better for their car’s engine. Drivers “upgraded” to premium gasoline more than 270 million times, AAA said.

So save a little extra money and use regular gasoline unless your vehicle has an engine that specifically requires a higher octane fuel.

Keep extra cash on you

As mentioned above, there will be times when electricity maybe down and credit card machines/ATMs will not function. There have even been times when I went into a store only to be told that their internet was down and they could not accept credit cards.

This cash reserve I keep isn’t just for the end of the world scenarios. I have dipped into my “emergency” cash on a few occasions. I have forgotten to stop by the ATM in the past, and suddenly need $10 or $20 to pay off or buy something I really needed. In those times, the spare cash has been very handy. I always remember to replenish it.

I made this a habit by deliberately setting $50 in smaller denominations and hid them in a small compartment in my wallet. Since my wallet is a part of my EDC (Every Day Carry), that money is always on me. I don’t count that money with the regular currency I have, and sometimes I even forget it is there.

If money is tight, you might start off with just a couple of $1 bills.  When you get $6 or $7 dollars, trade 5 of them up for a $5 bill. Over time, you will have your reserve built. You could also throw your leftover change into a jar. When it reaches $5, trade it in and put that $5 in your emergency cash.

I would also carry smaller denominations, nothing over a $20. You never know when you might be in a situation where you need to buy something and the other party cannot make change.

I carry $50 with a single $20 and the rest in $5s and $1. Some may want to carry more, others less. I would be careful not to carry too much; I certainly wouldn’t carry half my life savings around with me. Just enough that I have some extra cash in an emergency!

Always have a flashlight on you

I can’t count the number of times I have been somewhere and suddenly needed some extra light. Be it a power outage, or at my job where I have had to enter a darkened building. Being able to see in an emergency could be the difference between life and death.

Click here to find out more

I have a small, pocket flashlight I always carry on me. It is a part of my EDC and I have used it a few times in the past during power outages. Typically, I use it until I can get to my Stinger rechargeable flashlight.

The Cree Ultra Light is  extremely bright for its size (around 300 lumens), needs only a single AA battery, and fits easily into my pocket. The one in the link is about $5!

A good, dependable and rugged flashlight should be a part of your EDC.

Wear a non digital wrist watch

I know the popularity of wearing watches is slowly fading. Most folks now use their cell phone to keep track of the time. But having a non digital wrist not only serves as a backup should your phone go down, but also serves as a emergency compass. According to the Farmer’s Almanac:

  • Hold your watch with the flat surface parallel to the ground.
  • Keeping it parallel to the ground, rotate it until the hour hand points in the general direction of the sun.
  • In the morning, south lies about halfway between the hour hand and twelve o’clock, measuring clockwise.
  • In the afternoon, south lies about halfway between the hour hand and twelve o’clock, measuring counter-clockwise.
  • North, of course, will be on the same line, in the opposite direction.

This is not 100% exact, but it can and will give you a general idea of north, south etc. I like a good “Kinetic” watch that does not need batteries or winding.

Stay safe out there!

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