What to Buy, How Much, and Where?

Laurie LongBlog

I live in Central California.  We are known for our agriculture, and if you have ever eaten a raisin, it’s probably from around here.  All of that being said, Fresno is not known for it’s natural disasters.  No hurricane’s, tsunami’s, torrential rain, and we do have a substantial earthquake every 10 years, or so, but we do have fires!  Wild fires, home and apartment fires, and they average one fire every 16 hours.I’d like to ask you to think about what would happen if the stores in your town were closed for a few weeks or even a month.  Do you have the basics in your pantry?  Butter, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, flour, canned meats,and of course cinnamon, parsley, basil, CHOCOLATE!  Make a list of what you would need to survive in your home for 2 weeks, a month, 1 year and start building a survival store in your home.  Little steps, little steps, one foot in front of the other!!!  Then, what about toilet paper and shampoo?

For those of you who live in a zone that experiences annual natural flooding, hurricane’s and tornado’s, you could probably write this blog!
I want to cover a few of these questions about what exactly should be stored, how much, and where these survival items should be stored.
In the back pages of my book, My Life in a Box…A Life Organizer, there is a simple introduction to create a shelter-in-place kit for in home survival for a week.  I have been very content, telling people about that little plan because it works.  On a budget, you can build a food, water, tool, and first aid supply that will get you through some challenges if the power goes off for a week. 
Recently I have been looking at how much toilet paper, tissue paper, paper towels, toothpaste, shampoo, razors, vitamins, pet supplies, etc… should be stored, and where it should be stored in case I have a home fire or if I have to evacuate because of a neighborhood or wild fire.
So, where do we start?  I suggest you get a notebook first.   By using a dedicated notebook, you won’t be having random sticky notes or single sheets of paper floating around the house!
Next, create a page for each product that you want to test.  That’s right..TEST!
Then, test each product over a month, and calculate how much of each item you will need to have stored for three months to a year.
Toilet Paper Test: 
For the next month, see if you (and your family members) can report how many rolls or toilet paper are being used in your home each week (or day).  I’m sure you are at least smiling, if not laughing right now.  How can you add one more thing to your already busy life?  Well, here is my suggestion.  Just try it for a month or even a week and see what you find out.
Each time you get a new roll of toilet paper out, write the date on the inside of the roll.  When you replace that roll, put the “empty date” on the outside of the tube and put the beginning date on the inside of the new roll.  Then, as soon as possible, enter the number of days in your journal, using the start date, and the end date on that roll. 
For example…
Roll 1: Start Date (just write the date) 8/15/13  on the inside of the roll
End Date:  8/18/13(on the outside of the roll)
Journal entry: Roll # 1 = 3 days
Roll #2 = 2 days
End of month total =  7 rolls in one bathroom, 8 rolls in second bathroom
Total rolls per month = 15 rolls
Total rolls per year =  180 rolls  (15 rolls X 12 months)
If you purchase a 24 roll pack, that is 7 1/2  24 roll packages of toilet paper each year.
By doing this with every roll of toilet paper, you will know by the end of the month, how many rolls your family uses!  If you have children, this can be a very interesting family project!  You can do the same test for paper towels, tissues, baby wipes & diapers.  Simply add the start date and finish date on each product.  Then keep the test results in your notebook.
Shampoo & Conditioner Test:
With a felt tip pen, you can mark the starting level on your shampoo and conditioner if they are not new bottles.  Simply use a permanent marker and put the starting date on the bottle.  When it is empty, you can write the date and enter in your journal how long it lasted.  By “seeing” how the shampoo and conditioner are being used by you and your family, you can make a pretty good guesstimate of how much you will need in a year.  This same test may be done on other plastic bottles and tubes as long as you use permanent markers so that the date doesn’t wash off. 
If you have space, store these items in large plastic containers in your garage that can easily be moved outside in case of a fire, or if you have to evacuate.  If space is limited, try storing non-food items under your bed in boxes.  Get creative!  Also, don’t forget to add a few of these items to your Get Away Bag.  Granted, if your house is on fire, you will have a very limited amount of time to save your toilet paper stash!  Take care of yourself  and your family and pets first.
Insurance Coverage 
I recently took a photo of my stored food, plastic bottles, and paper items.  If I were to experience a home fire, my homeowners insurance would cover the replacement cost of what is lost in my refrigerator, freezer, and pantry if I can prove what I lost. 
By taking photos of these items and storing them online in an email to yourself, you can have access to them from anywhere you can find a computer!
I’m always open to new ideas to share, so please feel free to send me a note with your suggestions on being prepared.  Someday soon I might get the BLOG going!
Stay safe!!! 
Laurie LongWhat to Buy, How Much, and Where?