Basic preparedness

Are You Prepared?

Natural Disasters, Aging Infrastructure, Terrorism, Pandemic….
all this and more are making the news headlines today. Any one of these events could disrupt your current way of life for several days, or potentially longer. Local, State and Federal agencies do a great job of  responding to and cleaning up after localized, small disasters like tornados, chemical spills, fires, etc. but……

What happens when the officials are overwhelmed with the size and scale of an event?
Answer:  You and the others involved are on your own until help arrives.

Statements from government officials have been made about the risks and eventualities of the next catastrophe. FEMA and the American Red Cross have been running print ads, radio and TV commercials and even outdoor billboards recommending household preparedness.

Local governments and now even WalMart have joined the effort to spread the word to the public.

It’s easy to be prepared and there’s no reason not to be. The peace-of-mind knowing that you and your family will be comfortable and reasonably self-sustained during a disaster is priceless. Ready.gov is an excellent source for information
available from the Dept. of Homeland Security.

And don’t forget to practice! Family practice drills can be fun. Emergency personnel are constantly practicing. They do this so during an actual event they’ll be familiar with procedure and to discover any equipment failures before a life depends on it.

Below is a very basic list to get you started.


Keep a 14 days supply of non-perishable food.
Also, it’s best to “Eat what you store and Store what you eat”.
In other words, rotate your storage foods for best freshness and
don’t stock up on unfamiliar foods.

Keep 14 days supply of water in the home.
If your water delivery system requires electricity, be sure to keep
water on hand to flush the toilet.

Keep water and non-perishable food in your car.

Keep your car’s fuel tank full.

Keep a battery operated radio and flashlight.
Be sure to keep fresh batteries on hand too.
A scanner radio and a NOAA weather radio is highly recommended.

Keep a first aid kit and fire extinguisher in your home and car.

Make plans for emergency communications and shelter
for each member of the family while they are away from home.

Learn how to safely shut off your home’s utilities
in case it becomes necessary to do so.

Store important documents and some spare cash.
Be sure these items are together and can be located quickly in an emergency.

Assemble a “72 Hour” kit for each member of the family.
Each ” Bug-out bag ” should contain a change of clothing, personal hygiene items and
other essentials ready to go at all times.

BASIC 72 hour Bug out Bag Kit

If you’re new to this and haven’t got clue where to begin, here’s a few ideas to help you get started. Start with this 3-day plan.
The 3-day plan is meant to be portable and ready-to-go at all times in case of a sudden evacuation. Tailor the items to meet the individual needs of your family members.

1) Water
Put aside enough water for you and each member of your family to last 3 days. A minimum of 3 gallons per person. Store the water in portable containers. Thick plastic juice containers work well and are free. It’s not necessary to treat city water if you keep it rotated. Treat with unscented bleach if you have well water or don’t plan to rotate.

2) Food
Nothing fancy needed here. Ready-to-eat foods or instant foods are best.
Odds are, If this plan ever needs to be utilized you will not have the time to prepare uncooked meals. Granola bars, instant oatmeal, heater meals are ideal. Stick with familiar foods that your family is used to eating and likes to eat.
Consider 2500 calories per day, per person.
Keep the food items in a rubbermaid container or cooler along with bowls, can opener and/or other necessary utensils. Keep the container readily accessible and away from rodents. Check and rotate the food as needed.

3) Backpack, suitcase or duffle bag
Each member of your family needs to have a backpack or duffle bag that can be used as a “Go-Bag” or “Bug-out Bag”. Nothing fancy is needed here, many good deals can be found at garage sales or thrift stores.
This go-bag is their’s only and needs to be kept easily accessible and prepacked with the following:

4) “Go-Bag” contents
a) 3 days worth of clothing, be sure to include enough undergarments and socks for a daily change
b) Personal Hygiene items: toothbrush, washcloth, toilet paper, fork/spoon plus any special individual needs.

c) One family member needs to add the following to their bag:

  • Portable battery powered radio
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • 3-day supply of any prescription meds that the family may be using
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Phone numbers and addresses of friends or relatives
  • Toothpaste, soap
  • Matches or lighter
  • Knife and multi-tool
  • Cash
  • Maps
  • Pen and paper
  • Recent photos of all family members and pets

Store the bags, food and water together in a spot that is easily accessible.
Check them periodically to be sure everything is up to date and ready to go.
Consider using evacuation practice drills.

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2 weeks “shelter-in-place”
Plan this phase assuming that you will not have electricity nor the ability to purchase anything for 14 days. These supplies don’t necessarily need to be portable but you should consider the possibility.

1) Water.
One gallon per day per person minimum.
This is especially important if you are on well water and rely on electricity to bring it out of the ground. Food grade 55 gallon drums work best but heavy duty 5-7 gallon containers work well also.
Treat the water with unscented bleach for long term storage.

2) Food
Plan 2 weeks worth of meals before purchasing anything.
Consider good nutritious meals that require no baking . Use canned or dried meats for the easiest storage. Some boxed meals contain meats, but be sure to try them first to be sure they’re palatable before buying enough to store.
Organize a pantry area so that your storage foods can be rotated easily.
REMEMBER TO “EAT WHAT YOU STORE and STORE WHAT YOU EAT.

Be sure to include charcoal or LP for the cooking method that you have available. Camping stoves that use alchohol or gasoline are another option. You may have a freezer full of food that will need to be cooked ASAP or it will spoil. Keep that in mind when purchasing cooking fuel.

3) Personal Hygiene and Sanitation
Keep additional water on hand to flush and clean the toilet as well as washing dishes.
Be sure your neighborhood or apartment complex does not use a sewage lift station as these may not be operable when there is a widespread power outage.
Consider a portable camping toilet as a another option.
Keep a journal to document the quantities of toiletries and personal hygiene products that your family consumes over a 2 week period so you can be sure to have enough on hand.

4) All Other Supplies
Document the types and quantities of all consumed items in your home over a 2 week period. This will help you decide what items to store and in what quantities.
Additional miscellaneous items include: candles, hand can-opener, matches or lighters, extra trashbags, extra batteries for flashlights and radios.

It’s not easy going 2 weeks without electricity but it could happen and if it does you will need to deal with it the best that you can.

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Don’t stop here!

It’s time to move on and prepare for longer durations once you have your 3-day plan and your 2 week shelter-in-place supplies in order.

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