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​Natural Disasters Have Helped Me Become A Better Dad

1
I have been through many phases and trials as a father. I had to learn how to be kind to myself and recognize that I was allowed to have bad days. I had to grow up from the scared boy I was into the man my family deserved me to be. I even had to come to terms with my own aging and the concept of mortality, something that was far from easy for me to do.

This last one has been one of the hardest. Looking at the news, there are constant stories of mayhem, horror, and tragedy. Natural disasters are becoming more common, with about 75% of the increase in

theFMLYman.com
2
natural disasters reported due to genuine changes in weather, the rest being due to advances in monitoring and increased media coverage.

Trying to explain to my children that we were safe was rough. Especially when my youngest asked me, “Daddy, what will we do if something like that happens here?” Because I didn’t have an answer for her. We were totally unprepared for a disaster, natural or otherwise.
The Things We Planned For In Advance
In my defense, my wife and I had done plenty of preparation in our time. We have a pretty solid retirement

theFMLYman.com
3
plan. We have educational savings plans for each of our children. We have an emergency fund with almost six months worth of expenses, just in case something happens. We also have developed an additional rainy day fund. Financially, I felt pretty confident that my family would be fine.

But how far was that going to get us if things went really wrong? Living in Utah, we have our risks: landslides, flash floods, earthquakes, wildfires, and that only counts the usual natural potential tragedies, not the ones caused by humans.

Having this talk with my

theFMLYman.com
4
children prompted me to be a better father, and I knew I needed to step up and make sure my family was prepared for anything.
Setting A Family Disaster Emergency Plan
The first step was for everyone to be on the same page. We sat down as a family and set up contingencies for different scenarios that could be likely in our area. This includes fires, floods, earthquakes or even something unexpected happening like a power outage.

We used the template provided by Red Cross to make our family emergency plan, and it has helped keep us focused enough to

theFMLYman.com
5
make our own adapted version.

Some of the things we covered in this plan were where we would all meet up. For a house emergency such as a fire, we would all meet across the street. If there was an emergency, like a major earthquake, we would meet at the nearby high school, which would be a likely place to set up a makeshift community hub and shelter.

We also set up a family text group to keep one another informed of what was happening. I’ll admit, that group has mostly been used since as a fun way to keep in contact and joke around, but it is

theFMLYman.com
6
good to already have the communication established.
Get Your Food and Water Supply In Order
Where I live in Utah has a pretty big canning and food storage culture. I never paid much attention to it until now. If things did get bad, two of the main things we would need would be food and water. So, it seemed a good place to invest our efforts.

In the beginning, my wife and I just bought some additional canned meats, vegetables, and fruits when we went to the store, along with a few gallons of water. We have since expanded that to include our own

theFMLYman.com
7
canning—mainly from our garden’s bountiful harvest this year—and the gift that is dehydration.

We have apricots, peaches, apples, jerky, eggs, pickles, carrots, even entire meals which we have learned to store in a shelf-stable way! The mix of canning and dehydrating was a lot of work but definitely worth it. Plus, my wife learned how to make her grandmother’s famous jams. Those ones don’t last long enough to go into the emergency storage.

We were also sure to create and store homemade pet food for our animals. We have dried food, too.

theFMLYman.com
8
But those will have to be used and rotated out because of potential pests getting into the bags.
Create Bug Out Bags
This one might seem a little extreme, but hear me out. Anyone who has seen a wildfire rage out of control can attest to how terrifying and sudden it can be when one strikes an area. People have to leave their homes with nothing but what they can carry and can often lose everything they own to the flames.

Having a bag prepared for each member of the family for an emergency is an often suggested—yet ignored—tip that can save you a

theFMLYman.com
9
lot of time in case of an evacuation. Ready.gov has a good breakdown of making these bags. But some items to consider are:

Changes of clothes for warm and cold weather.
Emergency reflective blanket
Flashlights with fresh batteries or headlamps
Whistles
Travel-ready foods, such as emergency food bars
Water
Medication
Copies of important documents
Dust masks
A compass
Sleeping bags
A tent large enough for everyone in your family (or more than one)
Personal hygiene items, including feminine products, if needed

theFMLYman.com
10
Extra glasses or contact lenses
Pet supplies

Having these kits already made and waiting for you mean that in the case of an emergency, your family is already prepared to grab and go. That lowers the risk of harm coming to them and also gives you some choice as to where you go.

For example, a crowded high school might not be the best place. But if you have tents, you could camp out somewhere safe until you are cleared to return home. It gives you the power of movement and freedom to make decisions that are right for your family.
Paranoia Made

theFMLYman.com
11
Me a Better Father
All of the above might make me seem a little paranoid, and maybe I am. But the truth is that this has made me a better father. I am now able to rest easy knowing we are ready for anything that comes our way.
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​Natural Disasters Have Helped Me Become A Better Dad

- 15th Nov 18

I have been through many phases and trials as a father. I had to learn how to be kind to myself and recognize that I was allowed to have bad days. I had to grow up from the scared boy I was into the man my family deserved me to be. I even had to come to terms with my own aging and the concept of mortality, something that was far from easy for me to do.

This last one has been one of the hardest. Looking at the news, there are constant stories of mayhem, horror, and tragedy. Natural disasters are becoming more common, with about 75% of the increase in natural disasters reported due to genuine changes in weather, the rest being due to advances in monitoring and increased media coverage.

Trying to explain to my children that we were safe was rough. Especially when my youngest asked me, “Daddy, what will we do if something like that happens here?” Because I didn’t have an answer for her. We were totally unprepared for a disaster, natural or otherwise.

The Things We Planned For In Advance

In my defense, my wife and I had done plenty of preparation in our time. We have a pretty solid retirement plan. We have educational savings plans for each of our children. We have an emergency fund with almost six months worth of expenses, just in case something happens. We also have developed an additional rainy day fund. Financially, I felt pretty confident that my family would be fine.

But how far was that going to get us if things went really wrong? Living in Utah, we have our risks: landslides, flash floods, earthquakes, wildfires, and that only counts the usual natural potential tragedies, not the ones caused by humans.

Having this talk with my children prompted me to be a better father, and I knew I needed to step up and make sure my family was prepared for anything.

Setting A Family Disaster Emergency Plan

The first step was for everyone to be on the same page. We sat down as a family and set up contingencies for different scenarios that could be likely in our area. This includes fires, floods, earthquakes or even something unexpected happening like a power outage.

We used the template provided by Red Cross to make our family emergency plan, and it has helped keep us focused enough to make our own adapted version.

Some of the things we covered in this plan were where we would all meet up. For a house emergency such as a fire, we would all meet across the street. If there was an emergency, like a major earthquake, we would meet at the nearby high school, which would be a likely place to set up a makeshift community hub and shelter.

We also set up a family text group to keep one another informed of what was happening. I’ll admit, that group has mostly been used since as a fun way to keep in contact and joke around, but it is good to already have the communication established.

Get Your Food and Water Supply In Order

Where I live in Utah has a pretty big canning and food storage culture. I never paid much attention to it until now. If things did get bad, two of the main things we would need would be food and water. So, it seemed a good place to invest our efforts.

In the beginning, my wife and I just bought some additional canned meats, vegetables, and fruits when we went to the store, along with a few gallons of water. We have since expanded that to include our own canning—mainly from our garden’s bountiful harvest this year—and the gift that is dehydration.

We have apricots, peaches, apples, jerky, eggs, pickles, carrots, even entire meals which we have learned to store in a shelf-stable way! The mix of canning and dehydrating was a lot of work but definitely worth it. Plus, my wife learned how to make her grandmother’s famous jams. Those ones don’t last long enough to go into the emergency storage.

We were also sure to create and store homemade pet food for our animals. We have dried food, too. But those will have to be used and rotated out because of potential pests getting into the bags.

Create Bug Out Bags

This one might seem a little extreme, but hear me out. Anyone who has seen a wildfire rage out of control can attest to how terrifying and sudden it can be when one strikes an area. People have to leave their homes with nothing but what they can carry and can often lose everything they own to the flames.

Having a bag prepared for each member of the family for an emergency is an often suggested—yet ignored—tip that can save you a lot of time in case of an evacuation. Ready.gov has a good breakdown of making these bags. But some items to consider are:

  • Changes of clothes for warm and cold weather.
  • Emergency reflective blanket
  • Flashlights with fresh batteries or headlamps
  • Whistles
  • Travel-ready foods, such as emergency food bars
  • Water
  • Medication
  • Copies of important documents
  • Dust masks
  • A compass
  • Sleeping bags
  • A tent large enough for everyone in your family (or more than one)
  • Personal hygiene items, including feminine products, if needed
  • Extra glasses or contact lenses
  • Pet supplies

Having these kits already made and waiting for you mean that in the case of an emergency, your family is already prepared to grab and go. That lowers the risk of harm coming to them and also gives you some choice as to where you go.

For example, a crowded high school might not be the best place. But if you have tents, you could camp out somewhere safe until you are cleared to return home. It gives you the power of movement and freedom to make decisions that are right for your family.

Paranoia Made Me a Better Father

All of the above might make me seem a little paranoid, and maybe I am. But the truth is that this has made me a better father. I am now able to rest easy knowing we are ready for anything that comes our way.

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Tyler enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere.

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