The Home Manual
Trying to figure where to start on your emergency prep is hard. Once you can find a starting point, it all just starts to flow. So let me suggest that the first step in getting prepared is getting organized, and this manual will keep all of your emergency prep efforts organized. At the end of this page I've provided a copy of my own Home Manual that you can download and make your own. Use my information as an example and replace it with your own. Simple. You're already off to a great start and are excited to continue, right?
As a pilot, I am gone a bit. And with that, I have learned a couple of things. First, I will probably not be home when "the big one" hits, and second, all the emergency equipment and supplies in the world will do us no good if my wife doesn't know where everything is, how to use it all, or even know that we have them. For example, before I created this manual, if I would have asked my wife how many sources of alternative heat we have, she would have most likely said "I have no clue." Even if she had known exactly what we had, she would not have known how to use everything. So I created an emergency "Home Manual" which outlines exactly what we have, where we keep it, and includes detailed instructions on how to use everything we have. Everyone in my family knows exactly where this manual is and what it contains. And I have even gone over everything in it in great detail with my wife to make sure she has a basic understanding of what we have, where it is, and how it all works. So if anything does happen and I'm not around, I know my family will not be at the mercy of what is in my head, which again, will probably not be around when it's really needed (or even wanted). Included in this manual are all the utility information that she might need to know, such as how to shut off the water, gas, and electricity, etc. I also keep a copy of this manual with our master 72-hour kit. I recommend everyone compile their own emergency "Home Manual" as well. This takes time, but really helps make a big task, such as emergency prep, a little more manageable. And by the way, I am always adding to and updating ours. So yes, it's process, but one that will be more than worth it if your families comfort or even survival depends on it.
I am including a link to a copy of our own home manual as a reference, modified to remove sensitive material of course, at the bottom of this post. Feel free to use this as a guide or as an exact template if you wish. The link includes 19 documents, one for each section of my manual, but once printed out and put in order, it makes a great resource. It will allow you to see at a glance what you have and also what you still need to work on. I keep each section in its own word file, so I can update and reprint sections only, as opposed to having to reprint the entire manual whenever a small change is made to one section. I am "Type A" and keep a fairly detailed manual, but make this your own and put the detail in it that you want. There are some sections that don't have content yet. Don't worry. I will ultimately cover every section as their module comes around. I just want you to see an example of our manual, help you get your manual started, and once started, you can simply start plugging in your information as you build your own emergency prep supply. I made a YouTube video as well explaining the "Home Manual". Feel free to check it out here:
One final thought. Not only do I have a couple copies of our manual on hand, but I have also given a copy to a couple of trusted neighbors, and have even gone over the manual with them. This way, if I am gone, I know my family will have some help. I've also found that the task of emergency prep in general is a little easier if done with a neighbor. It's nice to compare notes and know that your neighbor may have a particular item that you don't, such as a chainsaw, generator, etc. and vice versa. So moving forward, I encourage you to get together with a neighbor and start making emergency prep a combined effort. And by all means, include the kids, and have fun with it.
So as promised, here is a link to our home manual:
Or you can download it by section here:
As you are putting your emergency supplies and plans together, please pass along any suggestions you may have for me, or let me know if I have overlooked something. If for some reason the above links don't work or the formatting is screwed up, let me know and I'll fix it.