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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Little Cash on Hand

by Chiot's Run

There are so many types of emergencies that we need to be prepared for big ones, small ones, short ones and long ones. Chances are, most of us will never experience a big major emergency, but it's wise to be prepared. Your preparation efforts for these large scale emergencies can be built over a period of time (stocking the pantry, water filters, generator, emergency heater, etc). The small emergencies are the ones we really need to be ready for right now, they can happen to any of us at any time. What kinds of things do we need to be prepared for a small emergency, especially those you might encounter while away from home? Here are a few things you should carry in your vehicles or in your purse so you're prepared for those small emergencies that may arise while you're out and about.

In our cashless society it's easy to never have to carry any cash, but there are times when it's necessary. You may think you can run to the ATM for some cash if you need it, but if a storm comes through and the electric is out that might not be the case. Several years ago we had the remnants of a hurricane roll through and we were without power for 4 days. Not only were we without power, but so was the surrounding area. The bank didn't have power at first and the ATM was not working, the local gas station didn't have power to run their credit card machines and they were only accepting cash. Fortunately we had some cash to cover what we needed at the time. Maybe you won't experience a loss of power and the ATM being closed, but it could be something much more simple. Like being somewhere and needing $10 in cash and realizing you don't have any in your wallet, perhaps your husband grabbed it or one of your kids needed it for school. Or maybe you stop for gas and realize they don't take credit (there are still stations around here like that). It's always wise to have a little cash stashed in the car just in case. You can determine what amount makes you comfortable, or what you think with comfortably cover any "emergency" you many have, perhaps enough to cover a tank of gas is a good rule of thumb. Keeping some cash around the house is also a good idea, keep whatever amount you think will comfortably cover a few emergency needs.

Make sure you have supplies in your vehicles for minor medical emergencies. Keep a first aid kit in your vehicle at all times and make sure it's stocked. We have a kit in each of our cars and each year I get it out and make sure it's stocked with fresh supplies, swap out aspirin/meds and check to make sure the bandaids are still sticky. You don't want to be stuck needing them and not having them or having them be out of date. You don't have to buy a special one, but they are handy if you don't have the time to make one yourself (here's one that's only $9). Although making a few with your children would be a good way to teach them the value of being prepared.

Keep a few flashlights in your car and even in your purse and a small pocket knife or multi-tool. You never know when a flashlight might come in handy, drop your keys in the ditch, the lights go out in the store, your trunk light goes out. They sell all different sizes of flashlights to fit every need you have, from tiny keychain lights that only cost $5-$10 to big maglites that can take a beating rolling around in your trunk. We have a few of the large ones and I have 5-6 of these Mini Maglites placed all over the house. Of course you need to make sure you have some extra batteries and maybe a spare bulb or two as well. We keep candles in the house, but those aren't really convenient to keep in the car.

Having some water and snacks on hand is also a great idea when you're away from home. It's a great habit to get into, not only will you save money but you'll have some in case you need it. I have a bag that sits by the back door with some homecanned applesauce and bottles of water. Before we head out the door I'll throw in some nuts and dried fruit and a few other snacks. Not only does this allow me to have some healthy snacks in case I'm out longer than expected (which happens often when you're running errands, especially when the closest store is 30 min away), but I also save money because I don't end up buying water or food while I'm out. There area few other other things you might want to consider carrying in your car as well: some string, scissors, jumper cables, blankets in winter, an extra coat, etc.

How do you prepare for those little emergencies? Do you have any great tips for things to carry in the car "Just in Case"?

I can also be found at Chiot's Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Not Dabbling in Normal, and you can follow me on Twitter.


Anonymous said...

This is so relevant!
I've always encouraged my children to never walk out the door without a water bottle and a little snack.
But also living in a big country like Australia with big miles to travel, we never leave the city without a large water bottle, a day's worth or more of food, blankets, pillows and first aid items in car as well as medicines.
All items to change a tyre, car manual, mobile, and of course as you mentioned a little spare cash. Also in Summer Gran always taught us to have facewashers for each person to moisten and wipe face, arms and necks to prevent heatstroke. Works a charm!

Taking responsibility for yourself is something from the past...but it makes life easier!

Sincerely, Emily said...

Great post, very thought provoking. Whether big or small, it is always good to take some steps to prepare. Now that we have a freezer and it is stocked full of things from the garden I would hate to lose power for a long period have it go to waste. We are talking about getting a generator just for that reason. We are close enough to the coast that we can lose power from the edges of a hurricane. We also only have electric in the house - no gas, so I make sure we have a few bottle of propane around for the little portable stove and grill.

You mentioned filters for water - can you expand on that? Or are you just talking about the small Brita filters? We have several tanks that we collect water in off the roof. It works well for the garden, but not drinking. Are you talking about a filter system to make that type of water drinkable? I know in one of those" large scale emergencies" we would not be getting water from the tap and we do not have a well or pump.

Thanks, Emily in So TX

Chiot's Run said...


I'm talking about filters that can filter any water into drinkable water. We have a small one we use for backpacking (a Katadyn). I believe you can now purchase brita and Pur that can do this but I'm not positive. We actually just purchased a Big Berkey for this purpuse, to use for filtering our drinking water (We have a HUGE landfill nearby and have been concerned about our drinking water). This filter will clean any way for drinking, and since we have rain barrels we'd be OK should something happen and we would be without city water. It's always good to be prepared for these kinds of emergencies.

Sincerely, Emily said...

Thank you for the information. I will look into the two you mentioned: Katadyn and Big Berkey. Emily in So. TX

Hill Country Hippie said...

A few years back a friend and I were traveling to Dallas for a business event, when my car broke down and needed to be towed. I have AAA, so I wasn't worried. When the truck arrived, I discovered that my particular plan only covers up to 30 miles of towing, and the nearest dealership was much further away than that. The driver refused to budge unless I paid for the difference in advance - in cash! Boy, was I ever thankful for my secret stash!!!