By LDS Intelligent Living
While the COVID-19 situation has introduced a number of challenges and concerns, it has also provided an opportunity for us to flex our preparedness muscles just a bit and reflect on what worked well for us and areas that we should bolster for ongoing and future challenges. We recently asked sisters in the stake to reflect on what they learned from recent experiences with regard to preparedness. While we did not receive a lot of responses, there are some common themes that emerged from those who thoughtfully responded (thank you so much for taking the time to respond). If you did not respond to the survey, that’s okay. Please still take the time to reflect on each of these questions and have a conversation with a friend or family about your reflections so that you can learn and grow from your experiences. Following are some of the themes and reflections we received.
What caught you most by surprise?
Abruptness of emergency situation. Several sisters were surprised at how quickly the government and general public panicked, overreacted, etc. While perceptions of government and public response to emergencies are somewhat subjective, this was a good wake-up call that some of our freedoms and opportunities can be taken away easily and quickly. This is a great time to reflect on what you can do personally to be an asset to your family and community in being confident and steadfast in an emergency situation.
Supply shortages. Did you notice how quickly some items disappeared from shelves in stores? What does that indicate about our societal preferences? How did such shortages affect you personally?
In what ways did you feel best prepared?
Food and household supplies. While most sisters acknowledge some shortcomings in their food storage, many of you have at least some short-term food storage. That’s great! Some additional questions to consider include: Are there food items you and your family didn’t eat? Do you have too much of some things? What items could you increase in your storage?
Savings. Finances, especially sufficient savings to supplement in times of shortage and need, are a particular challenge for most of us. Some sisters had at least a little money set aside. If you don’t have a lot saved, how can you increase, even a little bit? Every little bit of savings will be a blessing when it is needed.
Spiritual. It was great to hear from sisters that recent prophetic counsel and church resources (like Come Follow Me) have prepared us individually and as families to retain a spiritual focus and structure for personal worship during a time when our religious freedoms have been somewhat curtailed. There were also highlights of ministering blessings and missionary opportunities that were increased because of the crisis situation. Thank you for watching for opportunities to strengthen others and share the gospel in this challenging time!
Having an adequate supply of water clearly came out as the number one item for which sisters reported feeling least prepared.
Other areas. Additional areas mentioned included adequate supply of prescription medication, food for pets, and sanitation items (such as hand sanitizer and disinfectants).
What would you focus on better if you had to repeat this situation?
Water storage. Again, more water storage and a plan for rotating water was a highlight.
Cash. While a few sisters reporting some level of financial savings or security (in this current situation), having cash on hand would be beneficial. Are your savings all tied up in investments or a bank account that could be inaccessible in an emergency?
Social relationships. Finding ways to stay engaged socially, particularly with family members, is important. Do you know how to use social media or virtual meeting tools so that you can stay in touch with loved ones?
Based on these themes, we would like to offer some additional observations and recommendations for your consideration.
Preparedness is very individual. All of us are at different points in our life journey, have different family configurations, different employment and income opportunities and are in different places in our spiritual progression. While there are some universal practices that we should all follow, be sure to tailor your preparedness efforts to your personal situation, resources and abilities.
Retain a primary focus on the Plan of Salvation. Remember the primary reasons we are here on earth. Showing obedience to Heavenly Father’s commandments and helping others to do the same needs to remain at the core of all our earthly experiences. Take time to regularly ponder whether you are striving to be on track spiritually and are willing to help bear the burdens of others and strengthen them.
Maintain a spiritual social network. We saw how quickly our religious freedoms can be removed, even in the name or protecting the health and safety of the public. As Elder Bednar recently observed, the ability and right to gather (maintain a social network) is at the core of our religious freedom and spiritual need. Take this time to strengthen your spiritual networks, so that you can retain those critical contacts and opportunities to serve in crisis situations.
Focus on water storage. Water supplies can become quickly disrupted or unusable in emergency situations. Remember that typical recommendations include having a minimum of one gallon per day per person of water storage. Store a minimum of two weeks’ water supply for your needs, more if possible. Remember to also be prepared with ways to purify water for drinking if needed, remove water from large storage containers, and a plan to rotate your water supply.
Focus on short-term food storage. While we have received a lot of counsel over the years to have at least a year’s supply of food storage, if you are not anywhere near that goal, focus on building up a 3 months food supply first. “Build a small supply of food that is part of your normal, daily diet. One way to do this is to purchase a few extra items each week to build a one-week supply of food. Then you can gradually increase your supply until it is sufficient for three months. For longer-term need, and where permitted, gradually build a supply of food that will last a long time and that you can use to stay alive, such as wheat, white rice and beans. These items can last 30 years or more when properly packaged and stored in a cool, dry place. A portion of these items maybe rotated in your three-month supply.” All Is Safely Gathered In
Keep some cash on hand. Recommendations vary somewhat in terms of how much cash to have on hand. Personal preferences and needs also factor in the amount needed. However, regardless of how much cash you keep on hand, be sure to have smaller bills ($20s or smaller denominations), store it in a safe, secure place and make a commitment to yourself that it is for emergency use only (for example, write down what constitutes emergency use for you and keep that written note with the cash).
“Be believing, be happy, don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.” Gordon B. Hinckley