Back-Up Plan?

Do you have a backup plan? 

This week alone I have had two customers (on completely separate occasions!) bring up the idea of a back-up plan (albeit in regards to two different scenarios). The question is simple enough. However, upon closer inspection (and after a bit of introspection) it actually is a bit of terrifying (for me it is, at least, and I'd consider myself a fairly organized person).

It is always nice to feel prepared, just in case you stay away from home a few hours longer than planned, or the weather turns a bit chillier than expected, or what have you. I'd guess, though, under most circumstances there is a way to make do, or borrow, or finagle. 

But what if you couldn't? What if everyone else around you also was making do, or borrowing, or attempting to piece things together?

I'm sure most in the Midwest would agree, the recent onslaught of horrific tornadoes has left everyone a bit shaken. 

I remember when I was little (in western Wisconsin) we would watch the radar in our basement - with the half-wall of windows immediately behind us. I don't ever remember a single instance when we felt compelled to move into the most interior space of the house, under the steps. Nope. Instead we watched the radar and occasionally my father would even go outside to watch the sky (although, when Twister first came out I did threw out some serious protests to him doing that).

When we first moved to Kansas, I insisted we have a basement. Insisted. Deal-breaker. Nope, will not look at houses without basements. Our realtor mocked me (sign #1 we should have given him the boot, but that is a whole other post). We got our basement. And with every siren and warning we diligently moved to the basement. But, we still were sitting on a Pottery Barn sectional, half-windows at our side, watching the radar on a television that made the weatherman practically life-sized. I had a plan, though. I pictured us watching the radar's angry red color come closer and closer, eventually grabbing the mattress off the guest room bed and ducking into the basement's shower (it was almost tucked under the cement slab of the garage, and I thought we'd be in a really safe spot). Plus, the house had already been hit by a tornado a few years earlier, so I figured the odds were good it wouldn't get hit again (it sounded good in my head anyways).

But would this have been enough?

Tuesday the sirens went off in our neighborhood. It was me, and my toddler, and the first tornado sirens I'd heard since she was born almost two years ago. The radar on the screen projected the worst of it to arrive in fifteen minutes. My stomach dropped. I still do not know if it is because I'm now a mother and feel intrinsically linked to my precious baby girl, or because of what happened in Joplin just a week earlier, but I felt the primal urge to PROTECT. I grabbed my laptop (no longer with a TV in the basement, I wanted to still be able to watch the radar) and my phone (with all its bells and whistles, hello, a flashlight!, even if I couldn't get a signal I figured it could still serve me well), dressed each of us in several layers and proper shoes and packed snacks and water, and downstairs we went.

Now living in a very old (but with lots of charm!) 1920's home, we no longer have our comfortable basement to retreat into. So we sat on the cement floor and attempted to pass the time. I'd hear the sirens every couple minutes, and the rumbles of the storm outside. The news channel's website wouldn't load, so no more radar for me. Instead we waited. And waited. The old me would have run upstairs to take a peak at the TV. The new me was prepared to hold her post indefinitely.

Eventually the storm did pass, and thankfully did only minor damage throughout the city and suburbs. But now I worry about the next time. I want to have even more of a strategy, and supplies, and a backup plan!... well, that is what I need to figure out.

But what I shake my head at - I didn't bring down a single diaper to the basement. I changed her just before we went downstairs, but goodness gracious, where was my head!? Maybe it is because she's so close to potty training and often holds her bladder for hours on end? But why on earth didn't the diaper store owner think to bring some diapers to the basement? There we were, sitting in front of our washer and dryer, with just a single diaper (and already on the bum, I might add).

So, so far my backup plan isn't too solid. But I do know I'm going to move a serious stash of disposable inserts and PUL covers to the basement, along with several changes of clothes, shelf-stable food and several bottles of water. And I'll probably come up with quite the list before I eventually move my cube of disaster supplies downstairs.

One of my favorite tips comes from a dear friend at playgroup... include nametags in your preparedness arsenal. This way you can write vital information on the tag, and stick it on your baby's back. God forbid you are separated from your child. But hopefully you can more quickly be reunited.

Let's share. What tips do you have? Do you already have a back-up plan? Do you live somewhere with different events to prepare for?

ps. And let's lighten the mood a bit. When I type 'backup' too often I think of this scene:


  1. I know what you mean about changing! Years ago I would have totally gone outside and watched the storm (sirens and all!). Last week we had sirens going off and I completely hunkered down with my little man. All of us squished in a tiny, HOT (power had gone out hours before) closet, but I was determined to stay there!

    A great tip I got from my brother was to stock up on glow sticks in a disaster kit. Sounds silly, but it doesn't require batteries and kids can feel better having a light long term if the power is out for an extended time. (it can also be entertaining!)

  2. Living in Louisville has given me my first experience with tornadoes and sirens, and we've had plenty to go around this year. I'm still developing our "plan" but one thing I've included is a battery operated AM radio. Our local news station broadcasts everything on an AM station during storms, and that has helped me stay calm and aware of what's going on when our ipad or phones won't load anything! When I know we are under a watch, I always pack a bag of stuff (including diapers) so that if I do hear the sirens, I'm not trying to remember everything I need as I rush for our basement (aka the dungeon!)

  3. Not to mention having a backup plan for business would be essential too! Seems like this is always the last thing we think about when trying to get our customers taken care of. Its so hard to put everything aside for a moment and take care of our livelyhood. :(

    This post totally reminds me that I need to :

    1. photo inventory and valuate all my business assets and get business insurance so anything that might get destroyed will easily be replaced with insurance money
    also get some sort of long term and short term disability insurance for myself in case I'm not able to work again!

    2. write down passwords and business instructions so someone can finalize things with my biz if god forbid I expire

    3. send my computer backups to an offsite location

    4. have my client/customer email addresses in a remote location like mailchimp so I can easily send them all a message at once in case my computer is wiped out.

    5. put my important business files in a locked metal file cabinet that is hopefully disaster proof.

    phew this seems overwhelming. thanks for the post and push!

    I've also written a post on how to pack for the apocalypse which includes maintaining the cloth lifestyle ;) - check it out... http://charsworld.com/2010/06/chars-ultimate-disaster-kit/