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September Is National Preparedness Month
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September Is National Preparedness Month


Whether it be a failing economy and job loss, concerns over natural disasters or terrorist attacks or just the desire to be in control of their own destiny, more and more Americans are returning to a back to basics life style. Self-reliance is not a new concept. For thousands of years the wise among us have practiced storing in times of plenty to provide during lean times. As with all cycles in history we are returning to the tried and true.

Many are beginning with the storing of food. For many reasons this is the place to begin. In the Central Valley we are well aware of the reduction of water allocations and the increased price to farmers and ranchers to provide their own. This can only lead to fewer crops and higher prices. As we create a food reserve in our own homes we create the ability to purchase foods when they are the least expensive, in season and when they are on sale. Thus our own private hedge against inflation.

As we look toward a pandemic flu season this fall and winter it’s important to understand that even if this flu remains mild it may cause serious disruptions in the supply chain. Truck drivers, store employees, and ranch workers may become ill and remain home to care for themselves or their family. Food storage will provide us, in these circumstances, with the ability to continue to feed our family in the manner we are accustomed to.

We may not need to prepare for our homes to be shaken off their foundations during an earthquake but we must be prepared to deal with the victims who will travel to the valley when the big one strikes the Bay Area. As we have seen in the aftermath of other disaster the communities where refugees settle experience empty store shelves for days or weeks.

Prepare now by storing foods your family eats and rotating the foods you store. A normal sale cycle is 12 weeks meaning that if we have a 12-week supply on hand we can always shop and restock when items are on sale. Learning to can and freeze foods when they are in season, and often free from friends with trees and gardens can also stock our supplies and reduce a thinly stretched budget. Also, in those same 12 weeks we can be eating out of a home garden should an emergency last longer.

In Oakdale and Stanislaus County we are preparing to deal with disasters of our own. We have two highways over which hazardous materials travel every day. A spill is always a possibility. Flooding is a great concern with a river running through town and a dam holding back enough water to produce a two-foot flood in town. Even a mild flu season could overwhelm our medical community. Wild fires in the hills above us could cause us to be the safe haven for those escaping the flames. Wild fires race through communities all the time, Oakdale is not immune. We are all too familiar with how quickly a house fire or burglary can change our lives. We can prepare for all of these challenges and many of our neighbors are doing just that.

Store water now to prepare for the possibility that our drinking water will be contaminated during a flood. You can survive for weeks without food but only a few days without water.

Create a 72-hour kit and know how to use all the items included in it. Assemble a kit for your car in case of an emergency while you are traveling.

Learn the proper procedures to safely evacuate. Did you know you evacuate differently for a fire or chemical spill than you do for a flood?

Create a home inventory to be used when making an insurance claim after a disaster. Having a good inventory will move you to the top of the list when dozens are trying to get paid.

Learn the skills of our forefathers, canning, gardening, household and car repair, and sewing. Learn to live off the grid. Many of the emergencies that could affect us will leave us without electricity for days or weeks. Would we know how to cook and keep warm, or cool, without electricity?

Learn to live frugally and save for times of crisis.

Madame Curie said: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
If you are unsure how to begin there are many good sources of help. Check out for more information.

Oakdale resident Carolyn Nicolaysen is a nationally known expert on emergency preparedness. If you or your organization would like help with preparing contact Carolyn at