Although it seems unfair and dare I say, sexist, that the media has designated cranky uncles and fathers-in-law the token conservatives at the Thanksgiving table, I’m ready to assume another role for dinner conversations.
Yes, it brings to mind a bunch of jittery, paranoid, camouflage-wearing survivalists stockpiling MREs, but if it comes down to it, those people will only be called one thing: life savers.
Given that a NATO ally shot down a Russian plane this week, there are worldwide travel warnings for Americans for the next three months, terror attacks are a daily occurrence, and tornadoes, blizzards, and hurricanes are a fact of life, there is simply no excuse not to have, at a minimum, a 72-hour emergency supply on hand.
Take a clue from our prepper friends — I bet you have one — and use the time over the holidays to get a kit together and, however obnoxious it may seem, talk to friends and family about their plans, too.
Ask them, “Do you really want to depend on President Obama to save you in case of an emergency?” They’ll be quietly ordering survival guides on their iPhones under the table before dessert is served.
There are three scenarios to imagine: What would be needed to get home, leave home, or stay home.
In each case, a hand crank NOAA radio with phone charging capabilities and Swiss Army knife would be handy. They make for fabulous Christmas gifts, too. Almost as exciting as thick, wool tube socks, which—surprise!—are also heavily recommended to have on hand for emergencies.
Have no shame. Be that gift giver. Embrace the prep!
First, the first.
What do you do if you are stuck away from home and can’t use regular modes of transportation to get back to your family? You need a “get home bag” to keep in your car or at the office.
Chances are you live somewhere it may get very cold and wet. (If not, you are really screwed in the event of a disaster because the rest of America is coming for your warm weather home. Ignore this section and invest in a heavy-duty gate.) Grab a duffle bag and stock it with a set of seasonally appropriate clothing, walking shoes, a liter of water, some power bars, a first aid kit, sanitizer, a LED flashlight, and cash.
Next, the “leave-home bag,” commonly known as the “bug-out bag.”
There are many retail options available, but the basics are everything needed for the get home bag, plus a compass, a map, a three-day supply of food and water, along with photocopies of identification cards and any special needs items such as medications, infant necessities, or pet foods. (You aren’t going to leave behind Fluffy and Fido are you?) Blankets, tarps, and other protective coverings are a plus.
And finally, supplies to stay at home.
FEMA recommends having two weeks worth of food and water at the house. Note: Given FEMA’s track record, you may want to double it.
Sound excessive? Not when you consider the fact that many people go without electricity for weeks at a time during regular rain and snow storms.
In case you need a reminder of how horrible humanity can be in the event of a major emergency, stand outside your local WalMart before opening on Black Friday and pretend you are about to storm the gates to fight over toilet paper rolls instead of big screen TVs.
Do yourself a favor and get the toilet paper now along with whatever else you need to remain clean and hygienic so you can remain on good terms with those kind enough to share their rations with you. The stinky ones will be the first outcasts.
But most importantly, pick up some water jugs, as big as you can, and store them away. Think about how you would sanitize water if bottled water isn’t available. Boiling works, but educate yourself about filtration systems or have a gallon of bleach nearby in case you need to chlorinate water yourself.
And while making dinner over the holidays, go through the pantry and clear out all the gross items that are expired and make room for other non-perishable items such as peanut butter, canned tuna or chicken, and soups that require little preparation.
Actually buy stuff you would like to eat so you can use it before expiration. Besides, if the world is ending, you’d probably rather have a nice can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew than bland, canned beans as your last meal.
If the conversation hits a lull, feel free to bring up the single-most important item on any proper prepping list: A gun with lots and lots of ammo.
Uncle Rick and Gramps shouldn’t be the only wingers sitting at the table this year. Women, speak up! The world has become less safe for Americans and everyone should have the conversation about what to do if the worst, God forbid, should happen.
All those who care about their friends and family — not exclusively women, or men — should feel comfortable broaching this topic.
If family can come together to prepare an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner, they can prepare for an emergency, too.
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Amanda Carpenter is a Contributing Editor at Conservative Review, former Communications Director to Sen. Ted Cruz, and former Speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint. She is also a CNN contributor. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaCarpenter.