Stash some cash in case of emergency

Published 8:25 am Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The final Do 1 Thing tip for November concerns Emergency Supplies: Stash some cash in case ATMs and credit card machines are not usable in a disaster.

Many things that we take for granted are not available when there is no power. ATM machines may not work. Grocery stores and other businesses may not be able to accept your credit or debit card. Cash could be the only acceptable means to make a purchase. Some experts say you should have at minimum $150 in cash stashed away. Realizing this may not be possible for everyone, any amount is good to start with. Take $1 a week and place it in an envelope in your emergency kit. In just a little time, you will have some cash stashed away for use in emergencies.

In the STEP (Student Tools For Emergency Preparedness) program I teach to fifth grade students, I use the example that they may be in a high school gym for three days and they may want something from a vending machine. Start saving small amounts of change and put it in their STEP bags (go-kits that we issue them through the program). Be prepared.

Let’s continue with winter preparedness. Severe winter weather poses health and safety concerns with extremely cold temperatures, freezing pipes, potential propane shortages and power outages. The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) offers several steps that families should take to prepare for the winter season.

To prepare your home for winter:

• Weatherproof your home by installing weather-stripping, caulking and insulating walls, doors and windows.

• Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls so pipes are less likely to freeze.

• Lock in a propane rate now and have a backup heating plan, such as a generator, wood stove or fireplace.

• Have gas or oil furnaces inspected by a qualified professional and change the air filter.

• Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected. Contact your local fire department for a referral or look for a local inspector online.

• Install battery-operated carbon monoxide (CO) detectors near every sleeping area. CO poisoning is most prevalent when furnaces are turned on to fight cold winter temperatures, but commonly occurs after winter storms and accompanying power outages, when people tend to rely on portable generators for electricity.

• Clean gutters to prevent ice dams from forming. Roof ice dams can cause water to build-up, leading to interior damage.

• Clear storm drains along the curb to enable water to drain. If plugged, water has the potential to go into low-lying areas and flood basements.

• Have an emergency preparedness kit stored safely in your house that includes: water, nonperishable food, first aid kit, extra batteries, a battery or hand-crank powered radio, emergency lighting or flashlights, extra blankets and warm clothing.

To prepare your vehicle for winter:

• Have your radiator system serviced before winter and make sure to replace windshield wipers and wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture that will not freeze.

• Replace any worn tires and check air pressure regularly.

• Have your brakes, brake fluid, oil, car battery, heater and exhaust checked to make everything is running efficiently.

• Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times to avoid fuel lines freezing up and getting ice buildup in your tank.

• Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle stocked with: batteries, battery powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight, windshield scraper, jumper cables, shovel, blankets, first aid kit, nonperishable food and bottled water in the event you get stranded or stuck.


Any questions or comments please email me at or call (269) 683-4411.