With earthquakes, natural disasters the threat of terrorism and economic uncertainty on the rise it is no wonder that more and more people are thinking about emergency preparation. If you are reading this article, chances are so are you. Getting prepared can seem over whelming at first. You probably have many questions such as:
- What should I place on my survival list?
- How many survival products do I need?
- How long will these supplies last?
- What kind of emergency plan should I put in place?
Relax! Getting prepared can be an enriching learning experience. It will bring you a sense of accomplishment and peace of mind knowing that although there is no way to know for sure things will work out for the best in an emergency, at least you have done your part in preparing for yourself and your loved ones. Also know that getting prepared for tough times is not an entirely human behavior; animals also prepare for winter time when food is scarce and the pickings are slim. Indeed, preparing for tough times is as natural as the earth itself.
In my opinion, the first and most important thing to draw up is a plan of action. This plan of action should include an evacuation route out of the house and a plan of taking cover in case of an earth quake, tornado, flood or other natural disaster even ecomic collapse can be included in these scenarios. The plan should also include a meeting place for the family after the evacuation takes place. The meeting place could be any prominent location outside the home if evacuation of the home is necessary. The plan can also include a survival list of items for any emergency situation you feel your family might face. In addition the plan can include contact phone numbers for family members, a location to meet when all family members are not home during an emergency, if the home is un inhabitable.
Water is crucial to all living things. The human body is contains 70% water. It is no wonder that clean water is vital to have in the event of an emergency. Men usually should drink three liters per day and women 2.2 liters per day. Adjust this amount for any children in your group. The minimal water consumption that it is recommend for an adult human in a temperate climate is eight, eight ounce glasses of water per day. Also calculate how much water is needed to cook your food. This number will vary depending on the type of food you buy. Drinking water can be stored or it can be purified if storage space is limited. I recommend storing as much water as you have room for or at least six months worth of water. Remember this water will be used for cooking and drinking so take that into account when writing up your survival list. If your space does not allow for six month worth of water, store what you can and buy a gravity fed water filtration system. These water systems utilize carbon filters and gravity to filter water. The great thing about having a gravity fed water filter is that no electricity is required and they are highly portable. With two high quality filter elements installed a family of four can get around 6000 gallons of water clean water. These filtration units are also able to filter pond or stagnant water; expect the life expectancy of the filters to drop if this type of water is filtered on a regular basis. Regardless, a family of four will on average drink three gallons of water per day. It is a good idea to have water stored and a filter system as well as extra filters. Gravity fed water filtration units are great; I have one at my home and use it on a daily bases. In addition arsenic and fluoride filters are also available to further clean your water if you so desire.
If you decide on storing your water as I do, I would recommend storing the water in 55 gallon drums. If you do not have the space then I would store the water in the most convenient size to suit your needs. 55 gallon drums can be bought new or used. I purchased all my drums used and made sure they were food grade and that no chemicals were stored in the drums prior to use. Used drums can be found on Craigs list but make sure to find out what was stored in the drum prior to purchase. Remember only food items should have been stored and no chemicals. Once you get the drum home, give it a good cleaning. I used fresh water, dish soap and bleach. Next fill your drum with water and add unscented bleach, one quarter teaspoon per gallon of water stored. Before filling make sure the drum is located in the place in which it will be stored. A full drum of water will be very difficult to move. Finally, make sure to replace your water every six months to a year and clean the barrel each time. In addition, keep water stored out of the sun and in a safe location. Remember, you will be drinking and cooking with this water so it is better to have more water than less.
Food has always been an interesting subject for me. Many people are not sure how much food they should have on there survival list or what type of food. There are different types of storable foods available depending on your needs. First off there is canned food. I am sure no explanation is required here. Canned food is probably one of the most kept foods for an emergency. Canned food is able to be stored for long periods of time and can be purchased at your local market. That being said there disadvantages to canned food. One downside is that canned foods take up more space and weigh much more than freeze dried or dehydrated food. In addition, with canned food one must make sure to purchase protein and carb type foods this will involve more planning on your part. In contrast, freeze dried and dehydrated food offer quick mobility in the event of an evacuation alert. For example, one case of regular canned food weighs approximately 24 pounds. The same item of dehydrated foods would weigh from 36 to 45 ounces, and would be packed in just one #10 can. Dehydrated foods have approximately double the yield of regular canned foods even though the cost of canned is much lower. I personally prefer freeze dried foods. Freeze drying removes the water, not the flavor. So freeze dried foods retain virtually all their fresh food taste, vitamins and nutritional content freeze dried food weighs less than fresh for canned food. Freeze dried foods have 98% of their water removed. This significantly reduces the food’s weight, making it easier to handle and less costly to transport. For example, 3kg of chicken weighs only 1kg after freeze drying, and rapidly rehydrates back to its original weight. Freeze drying is generally more expensive then dehydrating. In addition freeze dried foods are easier to prepare. Simply add water to the Mylar pouch and your meal is ready in minutes. Dehydrated foods normally will require more time and water to prepare your meal and this means more water needs to be stored. More water for food means less water for you and your family.
In addition, many dehydrated products sold on the market today require much more preparation for consumption in addition to tools required for preparation. For example the milling of cracked wheat or the baking of bread with flour takes a lot of labor and time. In contrast, freeze dried foods are already prepared-all you do is add water. For me and my family this is just easier and in an emergency situation I don’t need my food preparation to be more difficult that it needs to be. Finally I just feel freeze dried food tastes better. And one more thing-having candy on hand is also important. I know some people might not think so however something sweet always helps to lift ones spirits especially in children. Hard candy is best for storing.
As far as survival products go, first aid is another important item to account for in anyone’s survival list. I always recommend a complete first aid kit with all the bells and whistles. First aid kits can be found at your local pharmacy. However, these kits are usually under equipped for an emergency and only carry very limited items that would last for a short time. Make sure your kit includes items for cuts, burns, lacerations, analgesics and pain reliever that are suitable for children as well as adults. The kit should also include items for allergic reactions, moldable splints in case of fractures, a small surgical kit, bandages, wound cleaning supplies, anti itch cream and other antibiotic ointments etc. Finally, a first aid booklet can come in handy to make sure you know how to treat your situation. Many first aid kits will not come with all items listed above in one kit, buy the best first aid kit you can afford and then add items. With a little searching online you can add items like surgical items to your first aid kit.
Remember, in an emergency you are on your own. Always remember that you are responsible for your own safety. It is better to over do it a bit than to under supply your self. I recommend a kit that will suit your needs for six months. These kits can be purchased complete and ready in a back pack online.
One of the categories most people tend to over look is toiletries. Why? I am not sure. Maybe because it just does not ring out emergency. None the less this category is vital and should be added to your survival list. It is important to keep a clean body to prevent infection and to keep up spirits in an emergency situation and that is why I always recommend a good supply of these items. A good supply of toilet tissue is one of the most important personal care items you can have. In an emergency you will more than likely not have time to get to your local market and pick up these items and if you do get there it will be likely that others will also be looking to purchase these items. Things could get ugly very quickly. That is why I always recommend you buy these items before an emergency and do your best to steer clear of markets where things can get nasty. I recommend again six months worth of toilet paper along with other toiletry items which include, shampoo, tooth paste, razors, dental floss and bars of soap. Finally, if you have females in your group it is important to have a supply of sanitary napkins. Remember leave nothing to chance and be as prepared as possible.
On the subject of fuel there are two types, cooking fuel and fuel for running vehicles or generators. As far as fuel for vehicles I do not store gasoline although it may be a good idea. I figure I will stay in place in the event of an emergency if evacuation is not required by law. Fuel for cooking can come in different forms, wood, gas or solar. I recommend storing propane for this. A 100 lb propane tank can be purchased used online fairly inexpensively and would supply fuel for many hours of cooking especially if you have freeze dried foods to prepare. The amount of time needed to boil water can be reduced by adding a small pressure cooker to your survival products list. Using a pressure cooker will cut your cooking time and fuel usage in half at least.
A solar oven is another great solution to cooking and boiling water. One thing to remember about solar cooking is it does not need to be hot to cook; with the sun, all that is required is that the sun is out. I recommend combining solar and propane fuel. This will ensure your propane last as long as possible. Remember, in an emergency you should behave as if you were going to be in your situation for a while and do not waste any thing. Use your solar cooker when the sun is out and only use propane when needed.
In addition to the propane you will want to pick up a burner to use with the tank. I use a turkey fryer burner. I changed out the fitting that connects to the propane tank from the burner. Turkey fryer burners are made to attach to five gallon propane tanks; the female ends on five gallon barbeque tanks are different than a 25 gallon tank which is normally used for a mobile home. When storing propane make sure it is in a safe location away from your home and not in direct sunlight if possible. Tall tanks that stand upright should be strapped to a wall to prevent them from falling over. You can also store your propane in five gallon tanks but again, this will take up more room. I always try to fit all my emergency preparation gear into the smallest space possible you should also. These solutions may not be necessary if you still have natural gas flowing safely into your home. That being said we are preparing for an emergency so redundancy is key.
It is always a good Idea to keep clean sets of clothing packed and ready in case of an emergency. This clothing should be of durable material that you feel will be able to handle more washing than normal since you will be wearing it more often if necessary. Of course the situation might not be such that you are required to utilize this clothing but it is better to be prepared than not. I recommend one weeks worth of clothing that can be worn over and over and rewashed as needed. Pack clothing appropriate for your climate, of course, and allow for a change of seasons. It is always a good idea to pack a couple extra days’ worth of underwear and socks.
Communication and back up power
It is a good idea to have a radio available for an emergency situation. I recommend radios that have the ability to be powered by hand cranking or by the sun. Also these radios should carry all the weather bands as well as standard radio features. Many radios you will find online will also have led lights attatched to them which allows one to use them as a flash lights. In addition it is a good idea to have back up solar panels to charge your cell phones in the event that power is lost at your location. These solar panels are portable, fold up and can fit neatly into your pack. Also back up solar power generators can power and charge other larger items in your home. Finally, solar battery chargers are great for charging your D, AA and AAA batteries for other electronics needs such as flash lights.
I can’t stress enough the importance of having a small set of good tools available. These tools should include any thing you think you might need to make repairs to items mentioned above or at your home or shelter. Also you want to make sure you have tools for cutting rope, wood and other essential items. A sewing kit should be added to your survival list of tools. I know a sewing kit might not sound like a tool but being able to mend clothing or other materials can be important in an emergency situation. Adding rope and tarps is also a good idea in addition to duct tape and a couple of good sets of working gloves.
This survival list may not have covered all the items needed for an emergency situation. In fact, I am sure I’ve missed some items you might have thought about. This list is only meant to serve as a guide on your journey in creating your own survival plan. I also understand you might be thinking that six months worth of supplies is too much or too little. How many months worth of these survival products your store is entirely up to you. Regardless of how many months worth of survival products you buy always remember to store enough water to cook and drink with. Depending on how many people are in your group this will vary. Make sure, if you can, to have your supplies balance out to the same amount of time. For example if you buy six months of food get enough water for that same time. Also make sure all your other items will work out to last that long. Create a plan for consumption and stick to it. That means ration all your supplies according to a pre planned plan of action. Always behave as if your emergency situation will last the duration of your supplies and waste nothing.