More than ever before, people's lives are being impacted by extreme weather events. There is a ton of information out there on what to do but it seems like no matter how much we preach preparedness, the average person just doesn't seem to think it is going to happen to them. This article will introduce you to a few of the most basic "must haves" for any emergency situation from simple power outages to severe weather events which can include hurricanes, tornados, flood, windstorms, snow and ice storms, earthquakes, and wildfires.
When the power goes out it can affect more than your electricity. You can also lose access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities. No worries, that can all be dealt with. The checklist for emergency preparedness can be as long as you want to make it but for the purpose of this article I will only focus on a few of the basics to help you get started.
If you should be impacted by an extreme weather event one of three things will happen. You will either evacuate, go to a shelter, or stay home and ride it out. That choice will be influenced by the local authorities and/or your own personal circumstances.
BACKPACK KITS - (also known and "Grab and Go" kits). Backpacks will have a small amount of food and water, blankets, emergency lighting, water purification tablets, first aid kit, matches, radio, a few small tools, and even a small tent. Most of these kits are designed for 3 days but to extend that all you have to do is add more food, water, and sanitation supplies to your kits. There are a few different manufacturers but the kits are all basically the same. Most come in 1 to 4 person capacities. There are group kits available as well.
This is an excellent choice for evacuation or even going to a shelter. If you have to evacuate, you may not know how far you will get or where you will stay when you get there. If you have to go to a shelter this kit will give you the reassurance that your minimum needs will be met without relying on others.
You can purchase these kits from on line dealers. You might also find them at Walmart, Costco, or the Red Cross. If you need advice I would recommend you contact an online dealer who will be more familiar with the products and what you will need. You should be able to meet your needs for less than $100.00 for a family of 4. You can also make your own.
HONEY BUCKET KITS - The honey bucket kit would be more suited to someone who has chosen to stay home even without public services such as power, water, and a toilet. This kit is similar to the backpack kits in that it will have the same food and water, blankets, small tools, first aid kits and other items (no tent) but will also include sanitation items for the honey bucket like extra liners, chemical disinfectant, and wipes. The same dealers who sell the backpack kits will also sell honey bucket kits. Most of these kits will sell for less than $100.00 for a family of 4. You can make these yourself but the toilet seat that comes with the honey bucket is handy.
DRINKING WATER - Drinking water is always the No. 1 issue in an emergency. You can't survive without it. Again, no problem, there are many options for you to choose from to provide yourself with clean water from dubious sources. Berkey water purifiers and Seychelle water filters are two of the more well known brands. There are numerous others as well from gravity purifiers to hand held bottles to straws. In simple terms filters take out bacteria and purifiers take out bacteria, VOC's, and viruses. There are even filters available for radiological contaminated water. If you are on the road you will probably only need a filter. If you are staying home and drinking from flood waters I would recommend a purifier. Do your research online to find the best purifier or filter to meet your needs. Search terms include, berkey, seychelle, gravity water filters, portable water filters. You can also check your local outdoor sports stores like Cabelas or REI. You should be able to meet your water needs for anywhere from $25.00 up to $150.00 for a top of the line purifier. Of course you can always store gallons of bottled water but the shelf life is limited, its environmentally unfriendly, and it would be too bulky to carry with you if you leave your home.
FOOD - Emergency food comes in many forms. The three most popular are food bars loaded with calories and MRE (meals ready to eat) and freeze dried foods. Again, there are many competent online sources to research. Mayday food bars, Mountain House Meals, and Wise Foods are a few name brand emergency food suppliers. There are others as well. Food bars may last about 5 years, MRE's 5-7 years, and freeze dried food up to 25 years properly stored! You can just unwrap and eat a food bar. Most MRE's come with a chemical heater. You will need clean water and a heat source for freeze dried food. Some come with heat and water and some don't. Do your homework!Emergency food is expensive and varies greatly depending on what you buy and the duration you prepare for. You can supplement your emergency food supplies with cheap canned food but if you do you will have to replace it every 2-5 years depending on the type of food.
There is enough information about emergency preparedness to fill many books. This article is intended to get you started with the barest minimum needs to survive on your own until the storm passes and you can access better facilities and supplies or until help arrives. Too many times we have seen people on tv, desperate for rescue after just one day because they didn't even have drinking water, let alone food or sanitary facilities. Do yourself a favor and secure an emergency pack or honey bucket kit, a water purifier/filter, and enough food to last from a few days to a couple of weeks. Don't depend on the government or anyone else to come to your rescue right away. You need to help yourself and be ready.
My next article will describe the steps I took to address modern record storms while building my own home.
Be prepared and stay safe.
Ed and Laurie Essex live in the Okanogan Highlands of Eastern Washington State where they live off grid and run their websites Good Ideas For Life and Off Grid Works. Read all of Ed's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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