21 Simple Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected

Plan ahead


Dear friends,

Whoever said, “Life is uncertain, so eat dessert first” was on to something.

It’s impossible to predict the surprises and mishaps of daily life. The only thing we know for sure is that, at some point, the unexpected will happen. In fact, the entire insurance industry is built around that single truth.

But in addition to buying insurance, it’s possible to ease some of life’s hills and valleys by taking some simple precautions. Being prepared helps us to be ready not only for bad things, but for good things, too. For example, if we keep breath mints handy then we’ll always be ready for a kiss. If we remember to bring business cards, we can make the most of new introductions and chance meetings.

Here are some ideas for building safety nets:

  1. An emergency savings account. $1000 is a good start, and that amount will cover a lot of smaller things. A stash of six months of living expenses is ideal.
  2. A fire extinguisher. Check it periodically to make sure it’s in good working condition.
  3. Smoke alarms throughout the home. Set an annual date on the calendar to change the batteries.
  4. Prayers. Several medical studies have shown lower complication rates in surgical patients who received intercessory prayers. It couldn’t hurt to send up a prayer each day for protection, good health and safety.
  5. A lint brush, comb, breath mints, business cards and wet wipes in the glove compartment, in case you get a chance to meet the queen.
  6. A jar of marinara sauce and a box of linguini in the pantry for a quick dinner.
  7. A well-stocked first aid kit. Replenish it from time to time.
  8. A blanket in your car trunk. Handy if you get stuck in the cold, and nice for impromptu picnics, too.
  9. A few spare birthday cards and a couple of generic gifts in the closet.
  10. Several gallon jugs of water for each person in the house. If you know that your water will be turned off for an extended period, fill your bathtub. Then you can use an empty jug to refill the commode.
  11. A flashlight, extra batteries, candles and matches in an easy-to-access place.
  12. A top-notch backup system for your computer, preferably off-site.
  13. A copy of your car registration and auto insurance card in a zip-lock baggie in your glove compartment.
  14. Breakfast burritos in the freezer, so you always have a fast, hearty meal.
  15. A hand-crank phone charger.
  16. A small stash of cash. It always comes in handy.
  17. A family emergency plan. Where would you meet if disaster struck? What is the most direct route out of your house or neighborhood? Who is a trusted family friend who would help if needed? Talk through some scenarios, so that everyone is on the same page.
  18. Important numbers in your phone contacts: the local sheriff, the closest fire station, your preferred towing service, and your local utility company.
  19. Some extra food rations. The EcoCatLady wrote a great post, “Fun with Food Storage,” about her ingenious system.
  20. A shop vac that can handle water. Indispensable for quickly dealing with major leaks and floods.
  21. A fireproof safe for important documents and photos.

And just to be on the safe side, eat dessert first.

How About You?

How do you prepare for the unexpected? Do you have any suggestions to add to my list? I always love hearing your comments and suggestions.

Hugs and enjoy the weekend,

The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. You still have a few more days to win a free copy of the book “The Mindful Day.”

Grateful thanks to Simon Migaj for use of the beautiful image above.

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of 15 books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

4 thoughts on “21 Simple Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected”

  1. These are great. The other thing I’d add about water is that the water in your hot water heater is also a source of water in case of water shortage. (Only true if you have an old-fashioned one with a tank.) And if you’re looking at storing food, make sure you have some that doesn’t require water to reconstitute. (Have some canned soup instead of all instant noodles, for example.)
    I’m off to eat some dessert!

  2. Hahahaha! I was reading your list and thinking “What?!? No crazy lady stash of canned & dry goods?” Then I got to the end. You’re so sweet to humor me.

    Anyhow, I’ve always been a bit intimidated by fire extinguishers because they just look so darned complicated. But recently I discovered that they make a spray can version for those of us who can’t figure out the real variety. So I bought 3 and put one in the kitchen, one in the furnace room, and one in the garage.

    And as to Annie’s concern about water – having a quality water filter on hand (like a Life Straw – something designed for camping or third world countries) can add a lot of peace of mind in the water department.

    The only thing I would add to your list is a passport stored in a safe place. You might not think this is necessary if you’re not the sort of person who would want to jump up and fly to Borneo, but having a solid backup ID can come in real handy if one were to, say… lose one’s purse with all of one’s ID in it. Ask me how I know! 🙂

  3. In addition to the blanket in the car, I like to take a page from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and always have 2 towels in the trunk. Plus a random pair of rugged ankle boots, socks and a jacket inside a zippered tote bag. http://hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Towel


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