Living safely when you are your own emergency services 

If you’re a recent transplant to a rural area, you face a new and unfamiliar set of safety considerations. You’re less likely to experience crime, for instance, but you also face longer response times from law enforcement and emergency services. We’ve recently talked about Road Trip Safety (now that you’ll be driving longer distances to get anywhere), but what are some things you can prepare for at home? Here are some things to consider:

1. Understand Warnings

Having a radio on hand is helpful especially in times of severe weather, but occasionally those weather warnings may be hard to interpret. Do some homework and brush up on things like red flag warnings, hurricane and tornado measurements, and the like. Flash flood warnings might be something you need to keep in mind for your particular corner of the world as well. Understanding which of these may apply to you, and how they should affect your emergency plans, could save your life.

2. Invest in technology

Whether you’ve lived rural your whole life or recently converted from being a city slicker, you may pride yourself on leaving some of the unnecessary technologies behind and living a more simple life (or you may have all the latest and greatest gadgets) but it’s important to make sure you have some of the essential bits of technology. Recommended parts of this list would include things like radios, alarms, a generator, sump pumps and motion sensing lights.

Radios (battery operated AND standard) are going to be extremely valuable should the power go out to monitor weather conditions, and a generator will help keep vital electronics functional (fridge, radios, etc.).Alarms and lights are important because while you may be far away from major crime, you’re also far from law enforcement. Sump pumps are vital if your area is susceptible to flooding, and since flood insurance is always at a premium, being able to protect yourself from minor flooding is a must.

1. Know your property

If you own a large parcel of land, have you done a thorough walking tour? Not just a casual stroll, but taking some effort, drawing up a grid, and taking note of anything you find. Mark down steep drops, bodies of water, trees, large rocks, blind spots from the home, and anything else that you might think worthy of note. Knowing your property can help keep you and your family safe from injury or other hazards, as well as help you to fully utilize that land you worked so hard to get.

4. Personal Protection

Gun ownership can be a heated topic, so you can leave that option up to yourself (but either way, understanding gun safety, which should include a class, should be a priority before any firearm is purchased), but there are other things to consider. What types of wildlife live in your area, and are they potentially dangerous? If so, how can you best protect you, your family, pets and livestock? Who are your nearest neighbors, and what are their phone numbers? Should a disaster occur, a medical emergency, fire, or home invasion, these are the people most likely able to help you. Is your property well lit enough to allow you to travel without a flashlight to vital areas in the dark without risking running into any hazards?

5. Have a plan

This is the most important step. An emergency preparedness plan should be one of the first things you check off this list. Use the items in this list, and others that might be more applicable to your area (Google can help here) to make a plan for each item. Where will your family go, how will you contact each other if separated, who to call, and more are things to consider.

Living away from it all can truly be a rich and fulfilling experience. Make sure you protect yourself by being prepared should the worst occur; that way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that whatever arises, you have a way to take care of it.

Katie White is a writer and handywoman from DIY Mother who is passionate about self-reliance and conservation. She takes pride in making her home a more sustainable and comfortable place for her husband and two kids. She lives in Dallas.

Thanks, Katie, and as always, we’d like to remind you to have a survival kit ready if you live in areas prone to thunderstorms or tornadoes.