Disaster Preparedness 101

globalAs the new decade begins, human kind is quickly finding out that disasters of all types are all too common. No one likes to think about a disaster hitting their home town but unfortunately it’s a very real possibility for every person no matter where you live. Earthquakes, floods, fires, wars, financial collapse, hurricanes, volcanic activity, diseases, viruses, civil unrest, and water shortages are just a small list of possible future hurdles we may have to overcome. That is why prepping for disasters has become so popular lately. Will you and your family be ready? It’s my goal with this article to get you as ready as possible for the worst of the possible disasters that could come along in the future. When things get bad, the ones that will make it through are the ones that are thinking and planning now for possible future disasters. Any planning is better than no planning and this will become all too obvious when disaster strikes.

The best method to prepare for a disaster of any type is to start with the most crucial things that you will need to have completed and work backwards to the least crucial. The reason is this: most people don’t get fully prepared for all possible disasters that could strike in one day, they prepare slowly over time. If a disaster is to hit while you are still in the midst of preparing, you’ll want the most crucial steps done first. I have organized this article in what I believe is the most logical order from most to least crucial.

First: Have a sufficient food and water supply

Now your food and water stash should be separate from any other food or water you may have. Don’t store you disaster supply of food and water in the kitchen or the pantry because you (or others in your family) are likely to eat or drink it in their normal day to day activities. Keep this disaster food and water in a storage area of the house that is easily accessible but not an obvious place you would keep food. Basement, attic, storage closet, garage are all great ideas. Store your food and water in large plastic bins

that will last and can be sealed tight. A popular method is to buy a 55 gallon reseal able plastic drum to store you food and water in. When determining how much food and water to put away keep in mind the size of your family and for how long you need to be able to last. If you are in a country setting where power can go out for days at a time you’ll need more supplies put away than someone in the city that rarely sees any outages of their utilities. A good rule is to start with a two weeks supply of food and water. Buy food that will last a long period of time. Canned food is a great choice although make sure you check the expiration dates as you may have to go through your food in a few years and freshen up your supply. Avoid anything that needs to be cooked and try to go for items you can eat straight out of the can. Also MRE’s (meals ready to eat) are a great addition to your disaster food supply. These are prepackages meals made usually for backpacking or military personnel. Generally they have an expiration date of many years from when they are produced. For disaster water supplies, it’s a good idea to have at least 6 gallons of water per person per week. Bottled water is great and lasts almost forever. Although some water companies are required to print expiration dates on their water, it’s been proven that when manufactured and stored correctly, bottled water can last almost indefinitely. So don’t let those expiration dates on the water scare you. Really old water may taste funny but it has yet to be proven to be unsafe to drink if stored properly. Keep in mind when storing food and water for a disaster of any type that the cooler the environment is that they are stored in, the better. Try to find an area that won’t get above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Second: Have a plan of action

disasterEven if you are a bachelor and living alone you should still have a plan of action. A plan of action is a list of specific actions you will take right after a disaster begins. This may include a meeting place that you and your family will agree on if you are all separated. Take into account where you family works, where they go to school, or anywhere else they spend a lot of time. Also you will want to take into account what disaster may occur. If there is civil unrest due to a new viral outbreak and you live in the city you may want to pack up your supplies and go to your family cabin out in the country and away from people. Make sure you have a plan of action for whatever can happen. Talk this over with your family members and make sure you all agree on what you will do in an earthquake versus a flood versus a riot. If you make sure everyone is on the same page then you will do much better when a disaster hits.

Third: Communication

In most disaster scenarios, experts believe that our fragile technology networks will be one of the first major impacts felt. This means the internet, cell phones, landline phones, television, power, satellite feeds etc. You may quickly be left in the dark with no way to communicate to a loved one who may be off at work or at the grocery store when the next disaster hits. Hopefully you have already completed your disaster plan of action so your family knows where to meet if things go bad, but you can’t have a disaster plan for every possible catastrophe. You’ll want to communicate and talk with your loved ones and more than likely cell phones will be useless. Out of all the possibilities for standalone communication out there I found the most cost effective method to be long range handheld radios. These radios can be bought at your local electronics store with up to a 35 mile range. I keep one at home, one in the trunk of my car (in a zip lock bag to keep it water proof), and one in the car of every family member along with spare batteries. We have two channels that we have previously agreed upon to use if a disaster happens and we are trying to talk to each other.  If you have more funds available you could always move up to ham radios which have a range of hundreds of miles. However I found these radios to be expensive and where I live you need a license to operate them.

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Fourth: Protection

When a disaster of any magnitude hits your area it is very likely that law enforcement and other first responders will be overwhelmed with the duties they are required to perform. Criminals and opportunists know this and often take advantage of the situation. You should consider home protection and personal protection in case you are not at your home when disaster strikes. For home protection a firearm is oftentimes a great choice. They only problem with this is they can be expensive and they need ammunition. This now means you will have to stock pile ammunition as well. Bladed weapons are great because they do not need reloading and don’t require anything else other than the weapon itself to work. All you typically need is something that will discourage someone from taking advantage of you and your family during a disaster. I prefer a firearm as they seem to have a better physiological impact than any other form of home protection. For personal protection when you aren’t at home consider pepper spray or a taser. Make sure you check your local laws before walking around town with either of these.  I choose pepper spray because it’s fairly cheap and legal where I live (California) as long as the container is less than 2.5oz.

Fifth: Miscellaneous

This is where you start to gather your miscellaneous items that would be of use during a national emergency or local disaster. Namely you’ll want flashlights, candles, water purifier, stove, gas, generator, emergency blanket, rope, warm clothes, water proof matches, sleeping bags, cash, radio, extra batteries, maps, first aid supplies, utility knives, tools, duct tape, fishing line, gps device, and the list goes on. If you have ever been backpacking you’ll know the miscellaneous items I am referring to. At this stage is when many people create a “bug out bag” (also known as a B.O.B.). A bug out bag is simply a bag with everything you need to survive for at least 3 days or 72 hours. The idea is if something happens that directly affects your home and you need to leave in a hurry, you can grab this bag on your way out that will have all the supplies you need for three days.

It’s important to remember that planning for a disaster of any size ahead of time is like insurance. You’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Remember that you can always add to your food supplies, water supplies, home defense options, and miscellaneous items later on. In fact, for many people disaster preparedness is an ongoing effort. They are always adding things and organizing their supplies. So don’t feel so overwhelmed that you need to have everything stashed away and prepped tomorrow. You can do it slowly over time. Good luck, and may you never need it.

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