Disaster Advice From The ‘Survival Mom’ – Panic Less, Prepare More

A former teacher and suburban mother of two, Lisa Bedford is a blogger known as The Survival Mom. She encourages a calm, common-sense approach to planning for uncertainty in her new book, Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios. The Allstate Blog chatted with Bedford about the value of a ‘healthy dose’ of fear and why moms are perfect candidates for preparedness.

Allstate Blog: You have a new book and a popular website: Why do you think your specific take on preparedness is resonating?

Survival Mom: It’s not a far step for moms. It’s a natural progression from making sure kids are bundled up and warm to recognizing that there are other situations out there that we need to be aware of and prepared for.

AB: There are so many scenarios people are trying to prepare for, are there any common denominators?

SM: That’s what makes preparedness so smart. When you prepare for one event, you are prepared for others. So, for instance, when we do smart things like pay off debt or store food because prices are rising, it puts us in a good position in case of a natural disaster. It overlaps.

AB: Is there a specific scenario that keeps you up at night? What got you started?

SM: About four years ago, I saw things rapidly changing. It was not so much that we were in a recession, but how things happened so quickly—the cascade effect. It was the realization that there’s no protection, no magic fairy dust [to keep us safe].

AB: So what kinds of things have you done?

SM: [I’ve learned] techniques for storing and purifying water, maintaining a customized food storage pantry for my family, and advanced gardening strategies (such as companion planting, greenhouse planting). I’ve also learned how to grow and use sprouts for additional nutrients in an emergency diet; the use of herbs and essential oils; how to use a solar oven; making varieties of bread from scratch and making homemade crackers (never even knew you could do that!).

I’ve also taken a first-aid and CPR class and put together a comprehensive medical kit for our family and emergency kits for the kids’ backpacks, our vehicle, and even one for our pets.

AB: What about the kids? How do they take part?  

SM: [They’ve learned] how to dehydrate herbs and food for longer-term storage. Archery, and rifle and handgun target shooting for hunting, self-defense, and sport. Camping and outdoor skills. Handyman skills around the house. They know how to cook and bake from scratch. My daughter manages the herb garden; they both help with the veggies and fruit. My daughter has learned to quilt, sew, and knit. And [they’ve both learned] money management and about developing an attitude and mindset of self-reliance—very important.

AB: Are there good storable foods that kids actually like?

SM: Start with foods that are familiar to them right now.  In a crisis, comfort foods will be very important. I’ve stocked up on macaroni and cheese (both the blue box type as well as ingredients for homemade), soups (my son loves tomato soup), and freeze-dried fruit. I store ingredients, mostly, so I can whip up favorite recipes, even in a disaster!

AB: Have your preparations ever been tested?

SM: With my husband’s business, we hit dry spell for a while. And, fortunately, we had three to four months of food stored. It was good to know that we didn’t have to run to the store for everything; the [majority of the] grocery bill was taken care of.

AB: If you only had three things to tell a mom about what to do to prepare for the unexpected, what would you say?

SM: Start by determining the most likely and reasonable scenario to plan for. This narrows your focus. Then, look around and see what you have before you decide you can’t afford it. Americans tend to accumulate [things].

Third starting point, consider the basics: food, water and shelter. Regardless of the emergency, you are going to need water. Can you store water safely? How would you purify it if you had a boil order? I have handy food storage lists for items that don’t require cooking or refrigerating. Those are really big steps.

AB: So, what’s next in your own preparedness to-do list?

SM: Getting my amateur radio license and radio equipment. Building a greenhouse. Taking a wilderness first aid class. And taking a CERT class [a first responder-type course] … as soon as I find the time!