Why Food & Water Shouldn't be Your #1 Priority

In the emergency preparedness industry I talk to a lot of people that are just starting out.

Most people when they try to make a go at getting ready on their own are initially inclined to start by stocking food.  Once they start to get a nice little supply of food they then transition to a supply of water and then additional tools and supplies.  There's nothing wrong with this if your preparation is well ahead of the disaster and you get everything ready before you need to use it.

So if Food & Water aren't the first priority, what is?

The first priority in an emergency situation is The Ability to Think Clearly.  First and foremost you must have the right mindset.  Everything else takes a back seat.

Case in point, when my wife and I are going to take the family somewhere, what's the first thing we do when we get the kids in the car?  That's right, we make sure every one of them is safely secured in a car seat, booster and seat belt.  Why do we do this?  Because we've seen and observed from other's experience that should an accident occur while we're driving, the greatest likelihood for our children to survive is if they're secured.

Knock on wood, I've never been in a car accident with my children, and we've driven thousands of miles.  Is it then safe to assume that since I've never been in an accident over the last 10 years there's really no reason to buckle in the kids?

Of course not.  We do this because despite a solid past driving record, there's still a risk that comes with driving and the trade off of the time it takes to putting my kids in a seat belt is worth the extra safety and security it provides.

This type of mindset is crucial to ensuring you and your family's safety in a disaster.  Despite the fact that you may have never faced a true emergency situation in the past, you're not justified in not taking the time to "put the kids in a seat belt".  I guarantee that getting ready will be worth the trade off.

Keys to getting a 'Disaster Ready' Mindset

1. Identify the potential disasters that could happen in your area.
A list might include, earthquake, hurricane, car accident, contaminated water, house fire, etc...
2. Prioritize the list of potential disasters.
Prioritize the list in the order of not just likelihood but in the order of what you're going to actually commit to prepare for.
3. Make A Plan.

Plans can be tricky because more often than not, things don't go exactly as planned.  However, a plan serves the purpose of developing the right mindset.  Through out the planning process, you become educated and gain a better grasp of both the options you have available and the supplies you'll need to carry out your plan.

Get Planning and Get Ready, Do it now at The Ready Store!

34 thoughts on “Why Food & Water Shouldn't be Your #1 Priority”

  • MasterPo

    Good advise. However, any plan needs to be based on certain presumptions. That is, you have to have a goal for what it is you're preparing for.

    In the case of surviving, you have to decide what events or circumstances you're preparing for. Preparation for one event may not be good enough for another. OTOH, preparing for an unlikely (possible doesn't make it likely) extreme will take a longer time and costs much more than necessary.

    Can't be all things all the time.

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  • Michael Beran

    We are preparing for chaos in general, doesn't matter what creates the chaos. Natural disasters are much easier to handle, we are from the Gulf Coast and have learned to handle storms of all size and intensity. What really has me in the preparation mind set is the chaos ensuing from the shortage of gasoline, take out our electricity or gasoline and chaos will ensue.

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  • Paula

    I agree with Michael Beran. Absence of electricity worries me the most. I talked to a solar contractor last week to talk about a supplemental solar system, with solar elec. generator. They're going to contact me when they have the design. It will be expensive, but most important to me is having some heat, and at least a fan in hot weather. I'm in poor health and having to endure lower than normal or higher then I'm used to temps. could prove fatal at my age.

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  • Joe

    Great article, but what I find most people tend to miss is the self defense factor. It's great to have a good mindset and food for a year, but what good is it if you can't protect it from those that are without and will take it by force. You don't need an arsenal, but it's always a good idea to have some pepper spray, stun gun, a few knives and of course, at least one firearm you know how to use.

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  • Cindy Merrill

    We are moving to a cabin with a woodstove: I really want to know what essentials I will need for this: Does the cookware need to be castiron, for example?

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  • Colleen

    Cindy,
    That sounds awesome. We used a combination wood stove on my great grandfather's farm until 10 years ago. Cooking on a woodstove, and especially baking with one, is an art. It's going to take you a while to understand how to control the heat, find the hot and cool spots, etc. Different woods also burn differently. Be patient.

    Start using your cast iron now so you can get used to it and read up on using it properly. You can use pretty much the same cook ware for a wood burning stove as any other type stove, just make sure you use high quality, regardless of the type. Stay away from anything cheap. Having a couple non-stick pans, maybe some quality enamel ware, stainless, etc. will allow you more options in regard to methods of cooking. Different cookwares serve different purposes. Cast iron is great for lots of things, but it can also be reactive to certain foods because it's exposed metal. If you're planning on canning, it's important to buy the appropriate equipment. Your local agriculture/home economics extension can help you with this. Good luck!

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  • Mary Lee

    While we are making preparations for having food, first aid supplies, and water on hand, let's not forget our neighbors! When you share with them what you're doing to be more self sufficient, they want that in their life too. But without encouragement, they will go blissfully through life and may be caught up in a serious situation totally unprepared.

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  • Kathy

    Thinking ahead is essential! I know that if I were faced with an unforeseen disaster I would probably panic first. That's why I have made a Disaster List and it is tacked to my office bulletin board. In the event of an emergency I don't have to stop and think. I just run to that list and start putting my plan into action. It tells me where things are that I might need, depending on situation, and steps I need to take immediately and then secondarily. It has jobs for the kids and even mother-in-law (she can be filling water jugs!). I feel much more comfortable knowing that even though I may not be clear headed at that moment I will still be able to accomplish what needs to be done.

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  • danno

    i agree to disagree. clear thinking comes NOW, while you're preparing. when disaster strikes, it's on to step 2, ACT. your calm and collect preparation now will prevent all sorts of levels of panic later, while chaos is everywhere else

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  • Violet

    Last year an ice storm knocked out power for 8 days. This was a scenario we planned for when we built our non-electric cabin. The big question was - could we travel the 50 miles from our city house to our off-grid cabin under these conditions? It took about 3 hours, dodging downed trees & power lines, but we made it! We housed family & friends for a week - we were the only ones who had heat, lights, and were able to cook. Those 10 years of preparation really paid off! And all those folks who said we were crazy to build a place off-grid now seek advice from us to diaster-proof their own homes!

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  • Gizmo

    It would seem that all who have contributed have carefully considered
    the issues; yet I have not seen the "muscle memory practice" listed.
    This (if your intrested) pertains to occasionally deciding that you
    will "mock" an event and go thru the motions (not necessarily actually
    loading) of visiting your stash locations and"mock"walking them to
    your vehical. Bear in mind that you don't want to allert your neighbors prematurely,but it eliminates blind panic because your sub
    personality knows what to do

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  • Violet

    Gizmo - you make a good point by recommending a "practice scramble." One of the best ways to practice is to Go Camping! You'll find out in a hurry what is essential & how much equipment you can carry. We have all our camping/scram gear packed and ready to go. Grab some cash, and you're out the door.

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  • sabra

    Having lived through several hurricane power outages on the East coast of Florida, I can say that food and water are not the most important. We had plenty of food and water but we were miserably hot and the mosquitos almost carried us away. My back went out from installing the shutters. Land crabs were coming in the house from the open doors. It was total h***! Also, once my husband and son went to "survive in the wild" for a weekend with plenty of food and water. They were back home within 10 hours because we had a freak cold front and they almost froze to death sleeping under their "homestead palm shelter". I say plan for comfort first otherwise you will be too miserable to eat and drink anything (other than liquor ;)

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  • James

    While we're planning, we might as well ask the question: How long is an emergency going to last? I can get through a day or two without even planning (as fat as I am!).
    We now have enough in the house to get through at least a week on food, possibly that on water, other supplies will stretch for at least a week. But what if it's longer than that?
    Perhaps we need time-scale planning in our preparations; and I would like to be able to get through at least a month of pain & aggravation without outside assistance. A month is a lot of gasoline for generators (if you have one), a lot of food and water, and a lot of on-hand cash for essentials (remember, the ATM's might be down too). But once I get there (not there yet), I'll feel a lot better about holding on until relieved.
    Thanks for hosting this website!

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  • Lenny

    prepare for the neighbors??Good luck getting to my front door.Been telling the neighbors for years to prepare for a disaster, a black out or God forbid, total chaos. Food, water,heat,sanitation,God,gold and guns. Not in that order either

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  • james howard

    I have been preparing for several years for different emergencies. I have enough food and water for several months for my family. I have mention to my neighbors about preparing and one said I don't have to store food because you have some. so I don"t know how wise it would be to tell your neighbors. Also some helpful tips, I have a generator called a trifuel generator it runs off gasoline propane or natural gas. during the last massive black out it ran off natural gas for 24 hrs straight,with no problem. also I started to store freeze dried food it has a 20 yr shelf life, it gets costly to keep rotating food. another reminder in the early 1900s mobs were going door to door yelling food or blood.

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  • Kim Petersen

    Forget the gold. Organic Seeds to plant and produce food.

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  • Lenny

    im with you on that james howard, and Mary Lee, i believe you need a wakeup call

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  • Lenny

    good idea kim,but up in the north the growing season is very short due to to early and late frosts,plus ya might need to worry about people stealing from your garden.i get mad enough when the squirrels and rabbits take my tomatoes now, but during a food emergency some people may think its fair game.make sure your seeds are non hybrid also.

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  • danno

    Haha yeah gonna have to say to heck with the neighbors and extended family. As much as I'd love to, I simply can not afford to prepare for them. I do the same- shower them with love and beg them to do the same as me, however if they give me the strange, crazy look, I have nothing but "i tried to warn you" to give them.

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  • Lenny

    Danno,and others,in the worst case scenario, even I, the prepared , over the top cynic, would probably be the first,although feeling way bad about it,hate to say...."I told you so,you're on your own". Been telling them for years way before the bird flu scare.till this day, i still rotate in and out supplies, gotta eat it anyway, mind as well use it now and rotate in new.i guess im the only a hole besides my wife, driving around NYC on a daily basis with my preparedness bag in the car..

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  • james howard

    kim, you have to remember it takes about 4 months between planting and harvesting. your idea is good if you have to be isolated for years and thats very unlikely. your main concern is to survive until authorities restore order. joe your on the right track but one firearm against a mob, I would improve my odds if I were you. In the past natural disasters were our main concern, but in todays world, terrorist are a concern. the old rule of thumb was 3 days without shelter, 3 days without water or 3 weeks without food would kill you. now you have to consider 3 minutes with out air. or any amount of time without uncontaminated air. I suggest looking into NBC (nuclear,biological,chemical) protection. you can get military surplus gear ie. suits(charcoal filled)gas mask or resporaitors very cheap. If you fail to plan you plan to fail

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  • Lenny

    once again, james howard, im with you. dont forget the filters for the mask either,buy your N95 respirators by the box. ya wanna help someone out, you can always give them one of those and feel good that you did something for others sothe guilt doesnt settle in. the charchoal suits are way cheap and disposable,even a tyvex jumpsuit for chemicals will protect you better than the jeans you are wearing.Potassium iodide aint a bad keepsake either.if there was ever any type of radiation present,this helps to keep it, atleast in a lower dose ,out of your lymp nodes.

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  • Lenny

    The book ONE SECOND AFTER by WILLIAM R. FORSTCHEN is a quick read and a reality check of what would happen in a major crises. Food , water,meds,even bullets over a very short time dissapear to those who are prepared, let alone the folks that arent prepared. A great read

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  • Colleen

    I've done sort of a hybrid of all the scenarios you folks mention. I have a short term emergency plan which includes both at home and grab-n-go readiness items. It's geared toward one weeks worth of supplies. It includes off the shelf type foods, fuel for my generator, etc. for at home. And then camping gear for short term grab-n-go, if I have to evacuate. I also have supplies for my critters.
    Then I have my medium term plan which is geared toward more than a week to about three months at home and consists of off the shelf and shelf stable items and water storage.
    Then finally, I have my long term. That consists of freeze dried/dehydrated food storage, garden seeds, etc. I am building these up slowly, as I can afford them. It all takes time and money.

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  • james howard

    lenny a point of information, because your one of the few who understand the threat. forget the N95, use a hepa filter which will stop raioactive particles, also use a carbon prefilter for any excessive dust in the air. also don't use N95 to protect against any flu, this is a mith, if you know the size of th flu virus even with a hepa filter which is the smallest particle filter there is, a risk is still there . to be as protected as possible,other than a self contained air supply, use a positive air flow resporator, which pumps air into the resporaitor to prevent contaminents from entering the sides. they are not for long term use because they require battery power.

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  • Lenny

    thanks james, i am prepared as you have stated with an overkill , over and above the equiptment that you have suggested.i was basically speaking in laymens terms for a typical scenario of either a mother nature disaster or small rebelious intervention.Not much to do for a nuclear or radioactive threat for the avaerage citizen. people here in NYC would have benefitted, even in a small portion, just to have an n95 paper mask in their pocket book or breifcase when the towers went.not everyone can be as prepared as you and i for super worst case scenario. real truth is, if it ever happens, id rather not be here to watch the dust clear.give the book i suggested a read, well worth the time. Colleen seams to be on the right track.slow and steady is much better than scrambling for everything at the last moment, especially if you are not close to home when the moment happens

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  • james howard

    lenny i know where your coming from. it was a pleasue communicating with you

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  • Boots

    Another thing to think about, medications. Sometimes you can't get an extended supply of medications and emergency care may not be there for you. Say, you cut yourself and infection sets in. The doctor is not available to write a prescription and the drug store has been vandalized. If you don't have antibiotics available you could be in trouble. Look into healing herbs. There are medical herbs out there for just about any need. Learn about them and set in a supply. Depending on how you prepare them, they can have a long shelf life. This could take a bit of time to learn how and which herbs work for which situation or condition. But it could be time well spent.

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  • Dave W

    1.You need a plan.Knowing when to go?If you miss the window to go?
    Where will you go?A plan B if plan A goes wrong.This is key.What if you get killed?Will your loved ones know what to do without you?You have to have the plan set,and all that are invalved with the plan know what to do when it's time to do it.
    2.Food.You must be set for all 3 stages.Short term,food you have on hand to eat now.Long term,food you can live off for months.Life time,the plan to get food,hunt,fish,grow,and even steal if that's what it takes.
    3.Water.The weight of this is just crazy.Knowing how to purify water will be your best bet in the long term.2 liters of water per person per day,and if you must work harder on chores just to survive then that number jumps to 4 liters per day.You do the math and you will need all that just for drinking,what about cooking?
    4.A place to go if you must leave.Get out of the way of mother nature,have a plan,and know where and when to go.You do not want to be stuck sitting in your car in bumper to bumper traffic when doom is coming your way.
    5.Tools.Hammer,Hatchet,Axe,Shovel,Knives,Machete,Guns,and Bullets.Yes I did say Guns and Bullets.It is a tool for putting food on the table,and keeping what you have yours if you know what I mean?
    You might want to add quiet killing tools for when you don't want every one to know you just offed a deer.You just might have to shoot your deer,then shoot the guy trying to steal it.
    6.!!Warning!!The less people that know you have food stocked up,the longer you get to keep it for your self.Put your mind set in as if you have no food,no water,and you have a gun and know who does.You could be a target.When people get to that animal state of mind(like it or not we all have it in us)they will kill you and your loved ones to get to your stash.Trust no one!

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  • Randy

    I need to have an evacuation route planned out if we have to move away from our house. And I will rely on our camping list to help us load the car as fast as possible.

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  • MasterPo

    Preparing for "chaos in general" sounds good. But is also incredibly broad. And unless it truly is SHTF time (a la Mad Max) most emergencies and disasters get cleaned up pretty quick.

    I agree it's not a one-size-fits-all planning activity. But I do know in my area a blizzard or hurricane or other big storm is usually cleaned up in a day or two. In my whole life I have not seen the supermarket truly barren, muchless low on food. Sometimes slim pickings for a day, two at the most, before resupply.

    And even in a SHTF scenario - aka total 100% social break down - given the size and scope of Federal powers I just can't believe it would be The Postman landscape from coast-to-coast. Maybe not a "normal" world for quite some time. But not utter anarchy.

    (Then again, I have been known to occationally be wrong...)

    ps- I 100% agree with Dave W.'s point #6.

    If your neighbors know you have food and water stock piled you're in VERY deep trouble already. Are you *really* prepared to defend it from your neighbors? Easier said than done. Especially if the emergency is only temporary and you may have to deal with reprocusions (legal and social) afterwards.

    Think about it.

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  • james howard

    lenny, I just finished reading one second after. It was a real eye opener. I'm really going to have to reevaluate my plans. And that senerio is not that far fetched. The amount of people in a city like N.Y. definitely changes things and that was in a small town. Can't tell you how much I appreciate the heads up. a thousand thanks.

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  • Alleen Carpentieri

    Solid information here. I am continuing to for more info on natural health and would very much appreciate any recommendations. Thanks a lot!

    Reply
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