Be ready for doomsday, for pennies
Emergency preparedness isn't paranoid -- it's smart. Yard sales are a great place to start.
That's not paranoid. It's prudent.
You don't have to live in earthquake country or Tornado Alley to be affected. For example, about 175,000 Seattle-area residents lost power after a December 2006 windstorm. It took a week to get all the lights back on.
Have any idea how you'd stay fed, warm and clean if you lost power and water for a week in the winter? (Post continues after video.)
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends having enough supplies to survive for at least three days after an emergency. Right now, while the coast is clear, is the time to go shopping.
Much of what Bedford listed is aimed at long-term survival. A few translate to short-term disasters: lanterns, camp stoves, sleeping bags, first-aid supplies and winter wear (if applicable to your region). To those I'd add:
- A bucket. Instant emergency toilet after an earthquake or other infrastructure-damaging event. At one recent yard sale I saw a bunch of jumbo-sized cat litter buckets offered for free.
- A saucepan and frying pan. A camp stove or open fire would soot up your prized Calphalon or Le Creuset pots. Look for a trashable pan or two; don't forget to check the "free" box.
- A flashlight. Aim for at least one per room. If you can't test it first, don't buy it; the bulb might be kaput.
- Playing cards. If the power's out, so is the video gaming system. But you can play Hearts or pinochle by lamplight or candlelight.
You can't predict hurricanes, ice storms, earthquakes or other disasters. What you can do is take even a few basic steps toward self-sufficiency. Do it frugally.
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VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Saving just a single month of expenses may take longer than you think. See how your savings rate affects how quickly you can build a solid emergency fund.