Sooooo what if something unexpected happens? What can we expect? That depends.

Most of our clients are already retired, on a fixed but comfortable income, take one or two prescription medications, and are relatively active. What about being prepared with other basic necessities?

Change is the only constant and preparing for unexpected events can bring peace of mind. For example, we discuss wealth preservation tactics for folks retiring at our social security and retirement income workshops. But what about safeguarding tangible essential needs in the event of an emergency?

Having a prepared mindset has become a bit of a hobby for me. When it comes to preserving essential needs, how would I need to prepare?

According to FEMA, 1960 Boy Scout handbook, guides for survivalists and preppers, and folks enjoying off the grid living on YouTube, there are some sustainability basics- Water, food, shelter, sanitation, medication, hygiene, and first aid. Those are the beginnings of a prepared mindset. For instance:

Water. We need it to drink, eat, clean, bathe, and grow plants. Here’s a simple test: What would happen to life at home if the water was turned off for an hour. The first thing that comes to mind is that you only have ONE FLUSH of the toilet. Many of us have bottled drinking water on hand, so thirst won’t be an issue at the one-hour mark. The bottled drinking water can also cover cooking in that time frame.

Next, let’s imagine 24 hours. Hopefully, you have a pool and a bucket to refill the toilet. If not, what then? A case of water bottles is not going to take care of you if that is your sole source of water. What about bathing? Dishes? Solution: Have a month’s worth of drinking water and a source of clean water for cleaning and flushing.

Food. What do you eat every day? I eat mostly protein and vegetables. I’m not a rice, pasta, bean, or legume guy. Admittedly, the veggies are not my choice. My wife sneaks them in. My point is we eat mostly fresh food. Not canned, jarred, or stored. For short-term sustainability, buy more, buy more. The price is not going down. Every dollar spent on food today is a tremendous savings realized even a month from now. For the long term… Maybe I should learn to embrace more canned and jarred foods. Shelter is easy. Stay home.

Medication. Not so easy. Having a 90-day supply is common, especially for those who mail-order their prescriptions. What if you can’t get to the doctor for some reason? Telehealth is an option. Many doctors have transformed their practices to virtual-only. But what about hard-to-get or expensive medications? I’m not talking about insulin, available without a prescription from Walmart for under $30 for years (Yes, there are more costly insulins, but in a survival situation, you can maintain with the old analog insulins if needed*). What about inhalers that are $300 to $500 a refill or cancer medications that are $10,000 to $20,000 per month and getting months of reserve is difficult at best. When talking to your doctor, consider a scenario where you will be out of the country or on a wilderness retreat for months off-grid. *Discuss your options. The point is to have a plan or meds on hand, so you are never without.

Sanitation. What if there was a diesel fuel shortage and trash collection switched from weekly to monthly? Where/how would you manage your trash? Your weekly fill-size trash can would be full. Stock up on some SUPER THICK 5 or 10 mil 55-gallon bags. The two-ply…I mean, twofold reason? First, they would help keep the critters out and the smells in, for a while. And second… for the ‘other’ sanitation need… if you ran out of water and had to use a makeshift toilet, you will need a few extra trash bags, don’t ya think?

Hygiene. It has already hit 100 degrees here. Can we get personal for a moment? How are you going to shower if the gas or electric goes out? Where are you storing water for your shower? Do you have soap that won’t melt in the heat or clump in the cold? What about shampoo, deodorant, and antiperspirant? Do you have extra supply? Since we are already getting personal, I guess now is a good time to discuss toilet paper. How many weeks of supply do you have on hand? I am talking about mathematically figuring out what you need if you are stuck at home for a week or a month and can’t get to the store or the store doesn’t have it. No mincing words -I’m not talking about hoarding. I’m saying be prepared.

First aid. There are multiple scenarios to discuss here, from a basic boo-boo kit for scrapes to trauma kits for more serious injuries. For example, if your family member gets a burn while cooking, takes a fall, stops breathing, seriously cuts themselves, or something even worse happens. DO you have the stuff to stabilize them until professional help arrives? What is an expected wait for the EMT and/or ambulance? What can you do in the meantime?
If you are retired and have time in your day, add a simple preparation list to your living plan. Then, prepare by deciding to be a little more self-reliant. has a great essential list to get your preparedness juices flowing.

My journey in learning about being prepared has been fascinating, and I am growing! Who knows, your new knowledge could unexpectedly help others. For example, you may join an off-road civilian search and rescue team. Take CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) course. Learn CPR and basic first aid. You never know how and when you can lend a hand to those in need.

Chin up. Life is good. American Retirement (Prepper) Advisor out.