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Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios by Lisa Bedford. New York: Harper Collins, March, 2012. 310 pages.

Frustrating hours of planning, organizing and packing epitomize the average harried mother’s week prior to departing on the annual frenzied “fun” family summer vacation!” If these simple family activities create the havoc we have all experienced, what challenges face the same average mom while sorting through mountains of available information on family preparedness?

Our nation reels from news reports of hurricanes, earthquakes, skyrocketing unemployment and increasing violence in the Middle East. Where does this overwhelmed mother, who understands that the well being of her beloved family depends upon being prepared in the face any unexpected calamity, turn for advice?

Well, Survival Mom – How to Prepare your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios, written by Lisa Bedford may prove the perfect resource for her, and other beginners. Lisa’s transition from Suburban Mom to Survival Mom encompassed a lifetime. Her journey found it roots in reading survival tales from her Nana’s Reader’s Digest magazines. Experiences with her first junior high survival class, Y2K and other natural and political disasters of her lifetime provided fodder for her current expertise in family preparedness. In June 2009, her love of research revealed that preparedness literature was primarily penned by men writing for men and geared toward a “survivalist lifestyle” that had little in common with her, as a suburban mom.” (Survival Mom p. 2) Hence, the founding of her online resource, Her book, Survival Mom, is a compilation of years of considerable research, experimentation and development of practical applications. It is designed as a “go-to manual” for moms seeking to provide for their families’ security in these uncertain times.

The book opens with a survey entitled, “What Kind of a Survival Mom are you?” It is a clever comedic attention grabber that whets the appetite of the reader for further exploration into its pages. Although not designed to be read in any certain order, it seems wise to begin chronologically, laying a firm foundation, before utilizing it as a topical smorgasbord based upon “each woman’s unique responsibilities, circumstances, and interests. “ (Survival Mom p. 2)

Lisa exhorts us to “First, “Define Your Disasters”. What might be most likely to happen in your area and in your specific set of circumstances? Her personal list included:

1. The closing of their family business and subsequent bankruptcy. 2. Losing their home in a foreclosure. 3. A long-term power outage. 4. Economic collapse. 5. A long-term drought.” (Survival Mom p. 10)

As you ponder these potential scenarios and browse through the book, She also recommends developing: “The Family Preparedness Plan – 3 lists.”

List #1: To Learn – List of skills and knowledge you realize will be important and in demand. List #2: To Do – Compile a working list of dozens of things you always intend to do but never complete. List #3: To Buy – Stocking up on food, extra toiletries, good quality tools, to name a few.

“Don’t be surprised if you have feelings of panic and of being overwhelmed. Switching from a mindset and life-style of “Life is good and is only going to get better” to “I’m not sure what the future holds anymore or even if there is much of a future” is disquieting. The only thing for certain is that staying where you are is the most dangerous position of all.” (Survival Mom p. 2) “Tom Martin, founder of the American Preppers Network, says: “Anyone can be a prepper. Just the act of preparing for anything makes you a prepper.” (Survival Mom p. 4)

Delving into Survival Mom, we discover, “Each chapter contains: Instant Survival Tips, Baby Steps and The Prepared Family, a special section with activities involving the whole family.” (Survival Mom p. 4) Inspiring quotes are tucked into its pages and forms for creating your own personalized Family Preparedness Plan at located at the end of many chapters.

Early on, Mrs. Bedford refers to the “Basic Survival Principle: The Rule of Three.” “This is the rule of redundancy. Have a backup and then a backup to your backup.” She interweaves this principle throughout the book in a variety of important topics.

One appealing aspect found throughout the book are the column notations Instant Survival Tips or Baby Steps. Here is a Baby Steps sample to ponder:

  • Plan for a one-week emergency. Assume you have no electricity or phone service.
  • Stock up on food for one week. Be sure this food doesn’t require refrigeration or heating.
  • Store one week’s worth of water. That’s 1 gallon of water per person per day.
  • Stock up on an extra week’s worth of supplies you use daily, such as shampoo and toilet paper.
  • Have food and supplies for your pets.
  • Just in case you have to evacuate, make a plan. Where will you go?
  • Make it a habit to keep your gasoline tank at least half full.” (Survival Mom p. 9)

Survival Mom has 12 chapters followed by a glossary of concise “Survival Mom Bonuses.” The first three chapters contain foundational strategic principles for any crisis situation. Chapter 1, Prepare More – Panic Less, spotlights bygone days of self-reliance that our grandparents and great-grandparents led. “Being prepared in those days wasn’t an option; it was a necessity.” (Survival Mom p. 6)

Chapters 2, Survival Begins with Water, and Chapter 3, Keeping It Clean, cover water and sanitation requirements. Here Lisa startles readers stating, “that when water is nowhere to be found, we have less that 3 days to live.” (Survival Mom p. 20) Although this statement may not be scientifically accurate, it draws attention to the importance of providing sufficient amounts of clean water for your family to drink, cook with, bath with, do laundry with and manage sanitation issues.

These two chapters contain options for choosing the best water filter for your families’ needs, decontamination methods, storage options, wells, laundry equipment and supplies, emergency toilets, composting, diapers, trash disposal, supplier resources and questions every modern woman asks, “Why to store water when we have a faucet, or Can a swimming pool provide all the water your family needs?”

Chapters 4 and 5 cover the all-important discussions pertaining to food storage in, The First Steps of Food Storage and Smart Strategies with Food Storage. Her guiding principles are to keep it simple and serving size counts. Here we find an example of applying the “Rule of Three”. Lisa recommends three layers of food storage: Grocery store products, bulk foods and freeze-dried/dehydrated foods. She provides descriptions of each category, suppliers, price point tips, suggestions to consider before you begin stocking up, including making a “survivalized meal plan.”

She then challenges readers to create a three-month survival meal plan merely from stored foods. To accomplish this she provides a Bedford family favorite recipe that she “survivalized”. After applying this procedure to seven of your families’ favorite dishes and multiplying the ingredients to make seven different main dishes, twelve times each, you will have the bulk of your food storage finished for the three month trial program. Now, you can begin your grocery shopping with a focus! Lisa keeps you smiling recounting examples of her early shopping and meal planning mistakes. These amusing ante dotes will either garner a compatible sigh of agreement or a deep sigh of relief to be spared “learning things the hard way.”

Included in Chapter 5 are her, “Survivalized Seven” meal plans along with important information highlighting items your food storage will be incomplete without. She also discusses options for families with special dietary needs and preferences i.e. gluten free or organic versus conventional products. Admittedly, Ms. Bedford does not address unique dietary needs in detail, but rather encourages individuals to further their own personal research with regards to products they believe fundamental in completing Survival Mom’s foundational principles.

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