Words like “preparedness” and “self-reliance” are often considered synonymous with “food storage” — and rightly so. For years, LDS Church leaders have counseled members to increase self-reliance by keeping at least three months’ worth of food on hand, with more long-term food storage as circumstances permit.
But there are some preparedness principles that have nothing to do with storing canned food or learning to cook with rolled oats. These ideas will help you prepare for a personal or widespread emergency by helping you be more temporally and spiritually self-reliant.
1. Save money
Especially in times of personal crisis, having some money set aside can relieve stress and sustain us and our families when income is not steady. Elder Devin G. Durrant taught of the wisdom of saving money in last October’s general conference. He said:
“I invite you to save money each week. The amount you save is not particularly significant; that is up to you. As you develop a habit of saving, you will benefit personally. And you may also have opportunities to assist others financially as a result of your diligence. Imagine the positive outcome of saving money weekly for six months, a year, 10 years, or more. Small efforts sustained over time can produce significant results.”
2. Learn first aid
In times of both sustained and brief crisis, knowing basic first aid will help you and your family immensely. Keep a first aid kit on hand — at home, in your car and at work. Familiarize yourself with what it contains and learn how to use the different items. Being prepared to administer basic first aid will help you minimize the effect of injuries and stay healthy.
3. Get an education
Prophets have long emphasized the value of an education in an increasingly competitive workplace. President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:
“The Lord wants you to educate your minds and hands, whatever your chosen field. Whether it be repairing refrigerators, or the work of a skilled surgeon, you must train yourselves. Seek for the best schooling available. Become a workman of integrity in the world that lies ahead of you. I repeat, you will bring honor to the Church and you will be generously blessed because of that training.”
4. Pay off debt
Saving money and acquiring needed resources is easier when your money is your own. For years, prophets have counseled Church members to get and stay out of debt. For example, President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:
“I urge you … to look to the condition of your finances. I urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt to the extent possible. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from bondage.”
5. Learn to do home and car repairs
In an emergency, some resources may not be readily available. In general, it’s good practice to be prepared to care for your own home and the things in it — if needed, without outside help. Learn to change the oil in your car and consider purchasing a book that teaches how to perform basic home maintenance. In times of personal difficulty, it might be helpful to avoid paying professionals for simple home repairs.
6. Write things down
In today’s digital age, most information we need is readily available online or on our personal electronic devices. But if we were to experience a long-term power outage, most of these resources would quickly become useless. It is wise to take time now to write down important phone numbers, addresses and account numbers. Keep this information in a safe place where you can easily access it.
7. Compile important documents
While you’re writing down important information, it would be good to find all your important documents and put them together where you can grab them and go if necessary. Birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports and social security cards can be difficult and costly to replace if they are destroyed in a flood, fire or other disaster.
8. Learn to sew
Basic sewing skills can help immensely if modern conveniences were lost. We don’t need to be master seamstresses to learn to patch a hole in clothing or to repair a ripped seam. These simple sewing skills — especially if we can do them by hand — can help the clothing we have on hand last longer in an emergency and can also be a great help to others who don’t have these skills.
9. Print and back up photos
In a long-term power outage, digital photos would also be inaccessible. Take some time periodically to have some photos printed or made in to books. These photos will be impervious to power outages and computer viruses. Storing digital photos in the cloud and backing up files in several places will also help preserve precious photos in an emergency.
10. Build personal testimony
We can’t predict what trials, difficulties or disasters are coming. However, we can build our personal testimonies that will strengthen our trust in the Lord when difficulties arise. Elder Richard G. Scott taught:
“I have seen individuals encountering challenges who knew what to do when it was beyond their own experience because they trusted in the Lord and knew that He would guide them to solutions that were urgently required.”