As a Social Work Contractor in one of the largest cities in the world, and the epicenter of the COVID pandemic in the USA, the last few weeks have presented unique challenges. I am responsible for more than 30 clients, each with either multiple addictions or comorbid mental health disorders. On a daily basis, I am literally putting out fires. While most of my client’s income is secured (Social Security, pension, etc), a few are self-employed, and now find themselves without an income
The IC has lost their primary sources of income, and with unemployment, website not built for millions of claims, needless to say, the backlog of claims processing has left some in “humbling” circumstances. Over the past year, I have been trying to get my clients to create an emergency fund, regardless of how much money they bring in. While this is not in my job description, I have been there, unprepared for when a disaster hits. A disaster doesn’t necessarily mean a pandemic, but differs for each of us; job loss, divorce, accident etc. How would most of us survive? Do we have at least 3-6 months of expenses stashed away? For many, the answer is “No”.
Unless you are a seasoned doomsday prepper, the current pandemic affecting our society may have caught you by complete surprise! Although this crisis is certainly a tragedy and should be treated as such, it should serve as a wake-up call that you need to plan for similar incidents in the future. Unfortunately, we have seen a large number of the population react to the pandemic, in extreme ways, and in some instances, even harmful to other individuals. Purchasing items in excess, and flooding the supermarkets has become normal.
Because of this trend, individuals who may need these resources far more than most, or have trouble accessing them, are suffering the most. In this post, I will address some sensible strategies, which address the current climate, as well as ensuring a future crisis doesn’t leave you unprepared and feeling hopeless.
Quality Over Quantity When Shopping
While there are some items that are essential to buy in bulk, such as toilet paper and basic medication, others can be purchased in moderation and still leave you prepared. When stocking up on food items for an emergency, focus on buying items with a long shelf life, and provide a large number of calories. In regard to water, it is certainly wise to have a stockpile of bottled water or gallon containers. However, you may want to look into some form of water filtration system. These devices are readily available and essentially provide an endless supply of drinkable water should your stash run low.
Maintaining An Emergency Fund
This tip applies to everyday life; you should always have some sort of nest egg available for unplanned expenses, such as a medical emergency or vehicle trouble. In this case of a pandemic, having an emergency fund becomes even more crucial. Consider the millions of individuals currently out of work and not receiving a steady flow of income. Having currency allocated to a situation such as the current crisis is absolutely essential.
Consider A Second Job/Side Hustle
Having worked with the homeless and formerly homeless for more than five years, I know the majority of us are one paycheck away from homelessness. No one anticipates losing their home, but it happens more often than you know! Do you have extra hours to earn a side income? What are your talents? Can you get paid to do something you love? You can use the extra money to build your emergency fund, pay off debt, go on a well-deserved vacation, invest, or save! A reputable site I have used and recommend, especially if you live in the US is Rat Race Rebellion. Currently, the US has more than 330 million people, by next month, experts estimate more than 20% of people will be unemployed-this should sober you up.
Establishing A Plan
Establishing a well-organized plan for you and your family is not something to do, in the middle of an emergency. Although it can seem quite excessive in the flow of everyday normal life, it is important you plan and discuss with your family exactly what to do, before the emergency happens. Be sure to cover the basics; where you will go, resources available, and what each person’s role will be.
Most of us take for granted the ability to maintain communication with friends and family. We assume our smartphones, computers, and televisions will always available. However, during emergency situations, where electricity and wireless connectivity are eliminated, it is important to have a plan, for maintaining the use of these devices. Consider investing in essentials like solar-powered chargers, a generator, and rechargeable batteries.
Basic Emergency Skills
An important thing to consider when preparing for a crisis is how to minimize the damage. A gas leak or electrical issue in your household can quickly become life-threatening during a natural disaster. Do you know how to shut off certain appliances and valves around the house? Furthermore, the ability to help someone in danger using basic CPR skills can be invaluable. Once again, these things are easy to disregard in everyday life but can become critically important very quickly.
It is a known fact that human beings do not think clearly in a panicked state. We see examples of this behavior in every crisis situation. When disaster strikes, being prepared is the best way to avoid panic. If you and your family have already discussed a well-established plan, you can eliminate rash decisions that can take a long time to rectify. It is a stressful time for many. If you have not done so yet, check out my last post for timely Resources to combat anxiety. While these suggestions are not exhaustive, they will guide your efforts to be better prepared.
Until next week,