The Federal Emergency Management Agency says that “Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food supply for two weeks, consider maintaining a supply that will last that long.” And later on in the same document they say “Consider storing at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family.” Using this document as an authority, we can say that being prepared for two weeks is the Boy Scout level of preparation. If you are at this level, nobody can consider you paranoid because you are just a good little citizen doing what your government recommends that you should do.
But what does it really mean to be prepared for two weeks cut off from resupply of food and water? Honestly speaking, if your sole goal is to stay alive then you likely don’t need to do anything. Most everyone would still be alive if all power, sewer, clean water, and other supplies were cut off for a period of two weeks. The frail might die, but everyone else has enough spare fat and could drink bad water if they had to. At the end of the two week period many people might be sick and weak, but they would not be dead.
If your goal is a little higher than just staying alive, then you have to define what you are looking for. Do you want perfect comfort just as if the disaster never happened? Do you just want to remain healthy until the cavalry arrives to saves the day? On the other paw, you also have to consider what you are willing to do to achieve your goals. After all, if money is no object, we would all pick riding out the disaster in perfect comfort. But it takes effort and money to prepare for things and we all have a finite supply of both.
What follows is two separate “FEMA Plans” constructed as a thought experiment to aide me in my ponderings of the subject. One plan is constructed for a yuppie family of four living in a suburban environment. The other plan is constructed for a rural working poor family of four. What differs between the two plans is budget and assumptions as to the capabilities of the theoretical family in question. What both plans have in common is the following…..
1. Both plans are designed to enable the theoretical families to remain functional and to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Comfort is not a goal. Rather, the goal is being healthy enough to function normally and having the equipped needed to do things that would make the situation better.
2. The plan is based around what is theoretically necessary to accomplish the above goal in a situation where there is no utilities, no sewer, no gas for vehicles, and no outside emergency support services for the duration of those two weeks.
3. All the stuff listed in these plans needs to be functional and ready to use 10 to 20 years in the future even if forgotten and ignored up until it is needed.
4. All the stuff in one of these plans should be able to fit into a closet. This is more about defining the amount of total storage space sacrificed to disaster preparedness and it is not a requirement of the plan that everything be suitable for storing in a closet. In the abstract it would be better for me to say that total space needed by the plan should be no more than 126 cubic feet (3*6*7) but it is easier to envision a closet then that amount of space in the abstract.
5. The assumption behind both plans is that the families live in the northeast and have to deal with weather and water resources typically for that region.
6. Budget for both plans is defined ahead of time and items are chosen to fit within that budget. For the “yuppie” plan the budget for this plan was derived from the one year cost in annual premiums if a healthy 30 year old male signed up for whole life insurance to the tune of $500,000. Buying life whole life insurance seems like a very middle class thing to do so the assumption is if they can afford to do that on a regular basis then they can afford pay that amount out once to prepare for FEMA style emergencies. At the time this plan was put together, that premium cost was estimated to be $4015 per year and so that is our budget number to stay under for the yuppie plan. For the rural working poor plan the budget is $800 on the grounds that seems to be roughly the amount that they spend on a “vacation” if they don’t have a lot of money but are gainfully employed
We will consider the “yuppie” plan first.
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