by Kimberly Miller
We are living in uncertain times. Inflation, skyrocketing gas and oil prices, supply chain issues, labor shortages, and natural disasters all point toward an unclear future where many scenarios are possible. A wise approach to this uncertain future is to do our best to prepare for whatever may be heading our way.
As homeschooling families, we understand the idea of personal responsibility. We take seriously the idea of looking after ourselves and our families to the best of our abilities, utilizing any of the tools we may have at our disposal. One of these important tools is our ability to plan ahead for the future. Families in bygone areas understood the need to think ahead and supply the needs of their families, anticipating what they would need in seasons in the future. They had the skills and the knowledge to do that effectively. We can learn many lessons from them, not the least of which is the importance of reclaiming some of the skills that have been lost in recent generations.
Though we may not know what to expect in the coming future, as homeschooling families, we have an opportunity to prepare ourselves for many possible events by thinking through the basic supplies and skills that are essential to have in order for survival. These skills will become increasingly important as our current situation tends toward more and more uncertainty.
This article is the first in a series that will address ways in which we as homeschoolers can implement learning opportunities while at the time reclaiming some of the most essential and time-tested skills our ancestors knew—skills that will be helpful for preparing us for the future. We will think through what we will need for survival and the types of skills that will be most useful in the event of an interruption in goods and services.
In this first article in the series, we will discuss ways in which we can be prepared in the immediate future. Preparedness is essential in the face of any kind of emergency situation.
When thinking about preparedness, it is important to think simply. Ask yourself, what are the essentials needed for survival? Discuss this with your children and work through what you will need as a family. Prioritize the basics, such as shelter, food, heat, clothing, clean water, and community. (Yes, that last one is an important aspect that should not be overlooked.) We can live without a lot of the modern conveniences to which we have become accustomed, but these few basics are essential for life.
Will your family have access to these essentials if faced with an emergency situation? Will your home be adequate, and do you have a way to heat it in the event that you do not have access to oil or electricity? Do you have a clean source of water if your electric water pump does not work or your city water is cut off or in some way contaminated? Do you have enough food to last for a while if your food supply is interrupted? Are your family’s available clothing options warm enough and well made enough to last for a length time if necessary?
If your children are old enough, talk with them and ask them for their input on the steps you will take in order to be prepared to meet the needs of your family in an emergency. Get them involved in making the preparations and taking action. Be sure to do it in a way that will not cause them unnecessary worry, though. Be upbeat and explain to them that you want to make sure you are ready “just in case” there is ever a time when you might need these things. Mention to them that the time to be prepared is always before the situation you are preparing for. It can be an important opportunity to teach them some critical thinking skills as well as planning skills.
Here are some suggestions for steps you can take to be sure that you and your family are prepared:
Winterize your home as best you can. Living in a cold climate means this is essential. Perhaps you have already taken steps to make your home as energy efficient as possible. If so, that is great. But also be sure that in the event you have no electricity to run things in your house, you will have an alternative for things like lighting and cooking. You can live without a cellphone for a while if you are unable to charge it, but you won’t survive too long without a way to cook a meal for yourself and your family.
Stock up on:
A cooking source that is not electricity dependent
A water filtration system (can be purchased at any camping goods store)
Along this same vein, and closely connected to the idea of a place of shelter, make sure you have an alternative source of heat that is not depended on a fuel source that could be interrupted. Gas, oil, propane, and electricity are common sources of heat in our region of the country, but what happens to those homes when there is a power outage that lasts several days or longer? A real concern right now is the possibility of oil shortages or the price of oil going so high that it becomes extremely difficult to afford. Do you have a way to heat your home if that becomes the case? Wood heat is a good alternative, if you are able to find a way to utilize it in your own home.
It is a good idea to have a supply of long term emergency food—food that is sealed and stored in a way that will keep for several years. Such emergency food can get you through a short term emergency and many brands and types are available for purchase.
Foods that are good to have stockpiled:
Canned vegetables and fruits
(Be sure to store food properly in airtight containers that will not let in bugs or other vermin.)
4. Medical supplies
Be sure to have on hand an array of first aid supplies. In case of injury when you may not be able to seek medical attention right away, you will be glad you planned ahead and had these things stocked.
Burn cream or aloe vera gel
Personal hygiene products such as feminine products and diapers
Prescription medications are another item you will want to make sure you have extras of on hand
5. Clean water
You will need a source of clean water that will be available even without access to electricity. A water filtration system of some kind is important. These can be found at camping goods stores or online.
6. Survival guide
A basic survival guide is a good thing to have on hand in case you need to look up any skills without the aid of the internet.
7. Non-electronic entertainment
Books, games, puzzles and other non-electronic-dependent entertainment for the kids can be helpful to have around just in case. Your may find yourselves in a situation where you will need such things to keep everybody happy and distracted. A helpful list of such items can be found at this page on the HOME website.
Being prepared for emergencies or for shortages in food or other goods is an important part of living in our current reality. Encourage your children to understand the necessity of planning ahead, and make it a family endeavor.
This article has covered the basics of being prepared for short-term emergency situations. In the next article in this series, we will discuss ways in which we can prepare ourselves and our families to learn time tested skills that can help with long term survival situations. Such self sufficiency may become increasingly essential in the future. We will go back to the basics and recall the ways our ancestors lived and thrived in a world before all the modern convinces we have at our disposal currently. My own family, as well as other families in our community and across the state, has been on a journey to reclaim these lost skills so that future generations can benefit from them as well. Perhaps you will be inspired to join us in this effort. I’ll explain more in a future article.
Kimberly Miller is the mother of nine children and has been homeschooling them for over twenty years. She has served HOME for almost fifteen years as the Publications Coordinator and a Regional Representative. In addition to those roles, Kimberly is also a freelance editor and a published author of several books, both fiction and nonfiction. In her spare time, she loves reading good books, sipping tea, working in her garden, and enjoying the animals on her family’s hobby farm in Western Maine.