Disasters come in many different forms- hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, snow storms, fires, earthquakes, etc. It is important to have homestead disaster essentials ready to go in the event that you and your family experience any one of these.
Homestead Disaster Preparation and Disaster Essentials
Disaster preparedness isn’t just for “preppers”. This is something that every person, especially those with children and animals, should take seriously. In this post, we will discuss how to prepare your household, homestead, and body/mind for a natural disaster.
Biggest Concerns in a Natural Disaster
When disaster strikes, no one wants to be caught unprepared. Let’s talk a bit about the top concerns in an emergency situation and what disaster essentials you should keep on your homestead.
The first thing you have to make sure of in any kind of emergency situation is that you and your family are in a safe place. Do you have somewhere safe to “ride out” the storm? What will you do if your home is destroyed? Do you have an emergency shelter?
Some disasters can leave people out of their homes and without access to food for extended periods. Power outages can cause food to spoil in refrigerators and freezers so you will need a stash of non-perishable food that you can take with you as you leave to find a safe place to stay.
Natural disasters often render drinking water unsafe. Because of this, it is important to make sure that you have access to clean water whether you are staying in your home or leaving for another safe location.
Here are some things that we do to help prepare ahead of a disaster.
Household & Homestead Disaster Essentials
This section is going to be broken into 3 parts- household disaster prep, homestead disaster prep, and preparing your body & mind for natural disasters. Each one is just as important as the next.
How to Prepare Your Household for Natural Disasters: Household Disaster Essentials
First things first → you need to ensure that your family and household are in order. Livestock and infrastructure are replaceable, the people you love are not. Let’s discuss some actions that you can take and supplies that you can stock to prepare your family and home.
Make sure you have the following things on hand at all times in case a disaster takes you off guard.
1. Family Disaster Plan
Your family should have an emergency plan in place. Who is responsible for what tasks when threats of storms and natural disasters loom? It is a good idea to practice this plan so each person knows what to do when the time comes.
A generator is well worth the investment if you have the cash to purchase one. You can even find them secondhand on social media yard sale sites, farm barter sites, and even Craigslist. If you have freezers full of meat, this is especially necessary because a power outage can cause all of that meat to go to waste in no time.
3. Non-Perishable Food
If you have a garden, try to grow enough produce to dehydrate and can. This food can be used throughout the wintertime and during emergency situations. If you aren’t growing enough food for this, you can also stock up on organic items, such as veggies and broth, from the store to preserve or even purchase canned goods right off the shelf. No need to go all “end of the world”, but it’s good to be prepared.
4. Clean Water Source
Drinking water is often contaminated during natural disasters. Stocking up on gallons (or bottles) of water or adding a water filter to your go bag can help keep your family hydrated without risking illness.
5. Heat and Air
Having a wood-burning heat source in your home can come in handy during the winter months when you may experience power outages due to ice and snow. A wood stove will also allow you to continue to cook without power. A generator can keep your air conditioner and fans running if you lose power during warm weather months.
6. Charged Phones & Devices
Keep your phones and devices charged and in easy-access areas. If you don’t have good service, you can invest in a cell phone booster.
7. Weapons and Ammunition
You may find the need to protect yourself in some situations, but chances are, a weapon will be needed for hunting food for your family if you happen to run out.
8. Flood Prep
If you are expecting very heavy rains, flooding, or a hurricane, you will need to prepare your home for high waters. If you have a basement, try to divert water away from your home. Create ditches around your house, put in french drains if necessary, etc. to make sure your house doesn’t flood. You may also want to add sandbags if you live in a low-country area.
9. Light Sources
Flashlights, candles, batteries, oil lamps, and DIY emergency candles are disaster essentials that you can purchase well in advance, even before the threat of an emergency. Keep multiple light sources batteries, oil, matches, lighters, and lighter fluid on hand.
10. Extra Clothing & Blankets
If you have a go bag or a shelter, keep it stocked with blankets, hats, coats, and extra clothes so you and your family can change as needed and stay warm in the event of an emergency.
11. First Aid Kit, Remedies, & Medication
Keep plenty of herbal remedies, first aid items, and medicines available. Don’t leave any necessary medications in need of a refill, always have them filled and accessible.
12. Games and Entertainment
It is a good idea to keep some games, cards, puzzles, and other forms of entertainment on hand especially if you have children. This will help to pass the time if you need to ride out a storm without power. Have a “game crate” around so it’s easy to find.
13. Escape Route
Even with plenty of planning and disaster preparation, you still may find yourself needing to evacuate. Make sure you have a planned escape route that each person in your family is aware of. This escape plan should include situations in which your family is all together and situations in which you all are in different locations. Sometimes a disaster may hit when someone isn’t home. How will you get to them? Where is your meeting point? These are things each of you should know ahead of time.
14. Emergency Shelter
Have an emergency shelter in mind. This could be an underground tornado shelter or a root cellar to keep you safe during a storm. You also need to think about where you will go if your home is not safe to enter after the disaster has passed. Will you stay with a family member? Find a hotel room? You may even want to have a small pop-up tent in case you find yourself having to leave the homestead quickly.
How to Prepare Your Homestead for Natural Disasters: Homestead Disaster Essentials
There are also disaster essentials that you need to think about when it comes to ensuring the safety of your land and livestock.
1. Reliable Water Source
You need to know where your livestock’s water is going to come from at all times. If it is wintertime and you lose power or the ability to get water from the hose, what will you do? A manual well pump is a great asset to the homestead for this reason.
2. Extra Livestock Feed and Treats
These are things you should never run out of. Always make sure you have enough feed & livestock treats for at least a week. Consider keeping excess feed in metal trash cans or other containers that will help keep water, mice, and bugs out.
3. Emergency Animal Housing
If your homestead floods, where will your animals go? This is one of the hardest things to think about. Move small livestock close to the house- or to the highest ground- possible. If your birds are in a chicken coop, make sure they aren’t locked in where they cannot escape rising water. For larger animals, you will have to make plans according to your land layout. Make proper plans ahead of time so that you don’t have to “think” about it when disaster strikes.
4. Wind and Rain Barriers
Wrap chicken coops, rabbit hutches up, and any other open areas with thick plastic or tarps. Place a wind-break fence up around beehives to keep them from getting cold and/or falling over. Ensure that all animals in open spaces have ample shelter and security. A wet animal isn’t a happy animal. Check that your animals have access to higher ground if necessary.
5. Ice, Snow, and Cold Weather
Wintertime can be really difficult for homesteaders. It is easy to lose animals due to the cold weather if you don’t prepare them properly. The first thing to do to make sure your animals stay warm is to keep plenty of straw on hand. Use straw as bedding or use straw bales as insulation for coops and stalls. Keep animals in draft-free shelters to help them conserve warmth.
Hutches should be wrapped and stuffed full of straw. Avoid the use of heat lamps. These are not necessary and they are extremely dangerous. If you lose power, heat lamps won’t be an option anyway and your animals would have to adjust from having a heat lamp to having no supplemental heat. Try these heat lamp alternatives if you really want a supplemental heat source.
Create a “plowing” plan to manage heavy snowfall. Have the tractor or ATV ready to plow everyone out, but keep on top of it while it’s snowing. Don’t think you can be a hero and tackle it when it’s all over with. It’s not easy plowing 18 inches of snow.
6. Livestock Necessities
Keep your livestock necessities readily accessible.
- a livestock first aid kit
- halters and leads
- extra fencing tools and supplies
- extra boots
- your vet’s number
How to Prepare Yourself Physically & Mentally for Natural Disaster
This is the tricky part. We are wired to take care of our families and animals when things go wrong, but we forget to care for our own physical and mental health.
You must be able to keep yourself together in a disaster. You can grieve and stress after it’s all over with, but in the moment, it’s not an option.
1. Get in Shape and Know your Body
Your health is important. Read that again, but mean it this time. We don’t live in a video game. You can’t just go to the store and buy an extra health pack the day before a disaster. This is something that you need to work on constantly. What are your physical limits? Could you pull yourself out of rushing water if you got caught in it? Could you pick your child up and run for your life if necessary? It’s not something we like to think about, but it’s something we have to think about.
2. Research and Learn to be Resourceful
Train your brain to think with common sense and resourcefulness. Learn what’s around you and how to use it or overcome it. Don’t just stock up on supplies because those could be taken from you or destroyed. Learn to create new supplies, forage for food, and find water sources. Physical items can be destroyed, but your knowledge can’t be taken away.
3. Strengthen Yourself Spiritually
If you are a Bible believer, work every day to hide His word in your heart. Because that Bible might not be close by in a freak situation. Read, memorize, pray, journal, whatever helps you truly soak up & learn the Words that God gave to us.
4. Encourage Yourself
You must be mentally able to keep your family going through emergency events. If you start flailing about in a tantrum or stress or fear, so will they. This also goes along with relying on God, because there’s absolutely no way you can do it alone. Keeping calm and peaceful in a situation that is anything but — it’s a pretty big deal.
Help for Homesteaders Who Have Been Affected by Natural Disaster
One of our HOA team members and her husband have started an incredible organization to give financial assistance to people whose homesteads have been destroyed by natural disasters. If you or someone you know lost livestock, infrastructure, homes, etc. due to forces outside of their control, recommend them for a grant here.
Each person will have a different view of how to handle disaster preparation and what items should count as disaster essentials. We are all different and have unique characteristics and homesteads. Whatever it may be, make sure you are prepared, whether you know the disaster is coming, or whether you’re completely taken off guard. It’s not a fear tactic, it’s your responsibility.
Our ancestors were prepared for these things most of the time. Why shouldn’t we be?
Ways to Prepare for a Natural Disaster Video
Watch Amy talk about their personal crisis situations and disaster preparation….
Homestead Disaster Preparation
Dig in deeper to learn more about what you can do to get your homestead ready for when disaster strikes.