Review: The Survival Savvy Family

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Julie Sczerbinshki is the creator of and the author of The Survival Savvy Family.    I asked Julie for a copy of her book so that I could review it just for you.

Before even opening the book, I was attracted to the colorful cover and the size.  This 5×7″ size is perfect to carry in your purse for those days when you are waiting for the kids in car rider line, or are at the auto repair shop!   Of course that size also makes it great for stuffing into your grab and go binder, but before you DO put it away, please take time to read it.  Julie has done a beautiful job of presenting her information and has lots of wonderful ideas for everyone, no matter what their current level of preparedness.

Once I opened the book, I immediately loved the “blueprint” design.   It’s printed and shaded in blue ink, so it gives the appearance of being a blueprint for preparedness.   I don’t recall Julie using that phrase anywhere in the book, but that’s how it made me feel.   There are thirteen lucky chapters that cover topics from creating a family emergency plan, to stocking your pantry, being ready for medical emergencies, financial readiness, power outages, whether or not to evacuate or stay home, and home invasions.    Julie even provides worksheets for a few of these topics so you can record the information right there in your copy.

I especially liked her encouragement to be ready financially.  She talks about how and she her husband followed Dave Ramsey’s advice to eliminate their credit card debt.    Basically, Dave recommends paying off your smallest balance FIRST, and once that account is paid off, applying that money to the next card.     We have been to one of Dave’s seminars and it was refreshing to have Dave share with the audience the things I’d been trying to teach my husband our entire married life!

You might wonder what paying off your debt has to do with being prepared.  Some of you might even be thinking, “Woohoo, if the world as we know it ends, I won’t ever have to finish paying off those debts.”   Let me just say that there’s something wonderful, even magical, about being debt free, and once you are free from the slavery of debt, you can start putting away cash for your emergency fund.  That’s something else that Dave Ramsey recommends.   It may be hard for some to think about not being able to use plastic – whether debit or credit – in an emergency, but I can tell you from experience that if the electricity is out, stores and gas stations will not be able to accept it.  After Hurricane Ike in 2008, people were unable to buy gas for their cars OR their generators without cash.

It’s always good to have a stash of cash!  Just yesterday a friend of mine was at the grocery store with her three kids.  The basket was full and she was so happy she’d been able to get her shopping done when she remembered that her debit card was no good.  The card had been cancelled because of fraud and she hadn’t received the new one.  She had no cash or other way to pay for it, so all of her time there was basically wasted.

Within the chapter on finances, she also has a checklist for important documents to be included in your grab and go binder.  It’s a very basic list that will help you in your search to locate these documents now instead of panicking in the face of an emergency.  This is a topic that’s very close to my heart because I’ve been offering a way to help people gather these documents since 1989 with my e-book, All They’ll Need to Know.  Julie advises using the binder with tabs and sheet protectors, just like I do.   I’m so happy when I see others even talking about gathering documents, because years ago, it seems everyone was just focused on the food, water, and shelter aspect of preparedness.  Today, with so many instances of people having to leave their homes in the face of disaster (either the works of Mother Nature, forest fires, or chemical spills) they are beginning to see the importance of having these documents with you.

Chapter 7 covers power outages, and Julie gives some advice on things we can do before that outage occurs.  Hopefully we all have flashlights and candles, but what about battery-powered lights, solar-powered lights, and glow sticks?   Right now I’m writing this post using my new SunBell solar light (read my review here).    Instead of using the glow sticks that you break, I have been using the products from UV Paqlite for several years now.  They recharge from any type of light and I have them hanging on knobs in various areas of my home.  If I get up in the night, they have collected enough light during the day to guide me.

Without electricity, it’s important to know how to keep food cold or frozen so that it doesn’t go bad.  Having various ways to cook is also helpful.  Almost every home has either a charcoal or a propane grill, but the grill won’t do you much good if you don’t have the charcoal or propane when you need it.   We also have a sun oven that allows me to cook anything as long as there is sun.

Just briefly, I wanted to also mention the chapter on home invasions.  My friend, Roger Eckstine has written The Shooter’s Guide to Home Defense  that covers this topic more in depth.  Both Julie and Roger recommend having a “safe room,” and also having a plan for such emergencies.  We no longer live in a world where we can just open our doors to anyone.    It’s unfortunate, but just watching the news should be enough for you to know it’s just not safe out there.

Being prepared is really a game of asking, “What if”? and then going through the process of figuring out what you’d need in each instance.  It’s also important to have and — USE a variety of tools that will help you (sun oven, grill, rocket stove, etc.)   I had a giveaway last year for MyWonderOven and when I followed up with the winner, she told me she hadn’t used it.  She was storing it with all of her camping supplies.   I encouraged her to get it out and use it now so she would know what to do with it in an emergency.     It just doesn’t make sense to save our supplies for a day when our lives are in even more turmoil!  Besides, if you use them now, you might find that they have a daily application that you can be using now.  Doesn’t that make more sense than just waiting for a day that hopefully will never come?

Julie even has some information for being prepared when traveling, and one of her suggestions is to always carry a flashlight.  It reminded me of the time that my daughter and her husband kind of made fun of their young son for bringing 3-4 flashlights with him on a trip to California.  At the time he was just fascinated with flashlights, so he put them in his bag.  The joke was on them when the power went out and they didn’t have any source of light in their room.

The Survival Savvy Family is definitely a book I would recommend.  Like it says on the cover, it shows you “how to be your best during the absolute worst.”  Definitely a great addition to your preparedness library.



All They’ll Need To Know

All They'll Need To Know