The most obvious way to make any emergency less stressful is to be prepared. Consider food, water, heat, etc. If you can go into any crisis well prepared, you will be more confident and have less to fear. By being prepared, you automatically go into an emergency with less stress, and it will be easier to keep spirits up.
Having Meals Ready for an Emergency
Figure out what your family’s favorite meals are and stock up on the ingredients for those meals for a week or two. You might consider stocking up for an entire month in case you have an unexpected medical bill or car repair. That way you could divert your monthly grocery budget to the unexpected expense. For more widespread emergencies, have a way to prepare and cook those meals if the electricity is out. You could prepare those meals and have them in the freezer, already cooked. Or you could convert those meals to meals-in-a-jar: just add boiling water.
According to the U.S.Government, “You should store at least one gallon of water per person for three days. A normally active person needs about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily, from water and other beverages. However, individual needs vary, depending on age, health, physical condition, activity, diet and climate.
Having food (that you like) and water are both essential in reducing stress and maintaining morale in an emergency situation.
Keeping Hot And Cold Steady
People get cranky when they are too hot or too cold. Prepare to be more comfortable in summer time emergencies by have lawn chairs so you can sit comfortably outside when the air conditioner is off. Have a blanket so your meals can become picnics. Get some outdoor family game sets like badminton or croquet. Have interesting reading material at the ready for the heat of the day when it’s too hot to move around much. Learn the art of the siesta!
To prepare for the cold of winter, can you install a wood burning stove? If you can, don’t forget to stockpile some firewood. Otherwise, have an extra supply of sweatshirts, socks and blankets for each member of the family. Have a way to serve warm drinks such as tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Don’t forget hot soups! Have a supply of indoor games that the family can enjoy together. Collect some sleeping bags and let the family all cuddle up together in one room to sleep.
Planning for Recreation
Once your immediate needs are met – comfort food, water and shelter – the next challenge is boredom. It is quite easy to prepare to keep morale up during an emergency or crisis. Build a personal library full of your favorite books – those books that you can read over and over again. Keep in mind that whatever your emergency is, it is possible the library or local book store are experiencing the same thing. Pick up stacks of old magazines at yard sales. They could be fun to go through if you are bored. Gather some art supplies, coloring books and a brand new box of crayons – splurge on the 64-count! – so that the children will have something new to entertain them. If you are a needle crafter, be sure to have a big stash of yarn, embroidery thread or whatever materials soothe and comfort you. If your thing is to repair motors, have one or two set aside so you can work on them when you can’t do anything else and need something to perk you up, or calm you down.
If you are enduring a power outage in the winter, night time comes very early. It will be very frustrating to have a library or a game collection, and not be able to use them because it is too dark. Frustration breeds stress and lowers morale. So what to do? Start a collection of kerosene lamps, with a few jugs of oil and some extra wicks. The more you have, the lighter it will be and the more fun you will have. Gather some half-pint jars and votive candles. These make excellent portable and safe light for small hands. Prepare to have a large candle in each room of the house so you won’t have to carry candles around as much. It would be very stressful to have the house burn down in any emergency!
Hygiene Keeps You Happy
Nothing lowers morale like feeling dirty. If you are in a situation where water is at a premium, you won’t be able to take baths or showers, or do laundry or wash dishes. Prepare ahead of time to make these tasks possible during an emergency. For personal hygiene, have a supply of baby wipes on hand. These will get you through a crisis by allowing you wash the stinky parts at least. Stockpile some paper products – plates, silverware and cups – so you do not need to stress about dishes. Turn meals into picnics by tossing a blanket on the living room floor. By having extra clothing stashed somewhere, you may be able to get through the entire crisis without needing to do laundry. If you do need to wash something, be prepared by having a 5 gallon bucket and an ordinary toilet plunger. This way you can wash the essentials with a minimum of water. Include in your stockpile a supply of clothespins and a portable, camping clothes line. Remember – your electric dryer may not work.
Set aside a liberal supply of feminine hygiene products and diapers. If you use cloth diapers, it will be very helpful – less stressful – if you can use disposables during this time. (Even if you do not have a child in diapers, there may be one there during your crisis.) Learn how to use dry shampoo. Create a way to potty that is the most comfortable for you. Consider purchasing a cheap plastic toilet seat that will fit on a 5 gallon bucket. This will keep you from squatting outside in the dark!
It’s the little things in life that bring us the most stress or the most joy. While we may not be able to control all aspects of our lives, and certainly not the emergencies that arise, we can take simple, common sense steps to make them more comfortable. Think about the last time your power was out – what were the top five biggest frustrations? Address those, and the next power outage will be less stressful and your family’s morale will stay high.