Home Emergency Preparedness, By Richard Horner
Back to Pine Home
Now there is a TON of information floating around the net and in books on the subject of emergency preparedness and I won't even begin to try and write the be all and end all home prep page. I can however give some ideas that COULD help you manage a decent home preparedness outfit within your budget. To that end I present to you the following information .
(Please note that this is a work in progress)
Section 1:  Water
Ready.gov gives the following information on storing water:
Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

Now here is my issue with it. A gallon of water per day is what is generally recommended for basic sustenance . In a situation where you are more active, as in when your trying to keep your life together when its been turned upside down by a disaster, that amount of water is just not enough. Plus they add " sanitation " to the listing... now your taking wash water from your drinking water. This is a really bad choice. Water for drinking should be set aside for one thing, drinking.
 Water for washing can be boiled and used from any source available within reason, for clothing at least and with the addition of a bleach treatment (listed below) should do for washing dishes. The secret here is to store as much water as you possibly can. I have been using 2 liter soda bottles as they are a lot more durable and secure than say, milk jugs and are easy to store. I also have a 35 gallon plastic food grade drum which is used for bulk water storage. The good thing about these drums is that they are very secure and hold a great deal of water, also they can be refilled with treated water once the stored water runs out.
Some things I recommend you have on hand for water management and treatment:
Some good suggestions I got from friends: Get a couple 55 gallon food grade drums and make it a practice of collecting rain water from your gutter systems. This water, while not entirely clean can be purified through boiling for drinking or  used as is for showering and other sanitation needs.

Section 2: food
Ready.gov has this to say about food
"Food, at least a three-day supply of non perishable food"
Ok now this is accurate but as we know from watching the coverage of hurricane Katrina and others, three days may not be enough. Now what I recommend is the "double canning" method that Ron and Karen Hood recommend on Survival.com. Basically it means every time you go shopping, whatever food you buy, buy one canned version of said food at least that's how I do it. Storing your food for emergencies is easy. My favourite method is of course shelving in the cellar but in an apartment or small house, plastic tubs can store quite a lot in an easily stored system. Other options include such things as dry goods like Bisquick, rice, beans,  boxed mashed potatoes and soup mixes are a great way to add bulk to your meals.
Your first priority in the initial stages of a disaster is to use the perishable food. Cook down the meats and veggies in the first few days, cheese and butter can be stored in air tight glass containers in the cellar and used as needed. Fruit for the most part can also be stored in the cellar.
The main thing is to attempt to save as much as possible so as to hold off dipping into your long term emergency supplies.
Long term Storables need not be expensive and most can be found at your local grocery store, here are a few staples:
Another option that takes work but can yield some rather nice food options is a food dehydrator and you can make meal packs for yourself. For more information on that, see "Camping with no budget: Making your own camp grub" (not yet available).
All food should be cooked properly prior to eating as the risk of food poisoning is of serious interest when in a disaster. Many people make the mistake of buying an electric stove which, amongst other failings, does not work in an power outage. Replacing your electric stove with a gas one is a very good idea as except for earthquake prone areas, gas service is much harder to interrupt than electricity. (A side note: gas cooks better and is more efficient, just ask any commercial chef!)
Lacking a gas stove or if gas service is interrupted, a propane camping stove will serve well for this purpose.
Many different models of camping stoves can be had for this purpose. Your best bet is the two burner model as it allows you to cook more than one thing at a time. The propane used comes from the small 1 lb propane cylinders found at most sporting goods stores. be sure to have MANY of these cylinders as they are a lifesaver when you need to boil water.
Just for your information, if you have a bulk propane tank such as those used for gas grills, you can buy hook-ups so that you can attach your propane camp stove to your bulk propane tank. Harbor Freight tools has a decent setup for this.

Section 3: Communication
The ability to communicate with the outside world and to get situational reports about potentially dangerous weather and other phenomena  is crucial to your continued survival during a disaster.

Ready.gov has this to say about communications equipment:
"Battery powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both"
This is very good advice. Many times these two options can be found in one hand crank unit which will allow you to purchase one item that does all of the things a radio should do. In addition to a radio, two way communications are very important and should be added to the list. At the very least, you should have a pair of FRS radios. These FM transceivers have the ability to transmit and receive signals at rather long distances and are relatively cheap to purchase. In addition, these radios have the NOAA weather bands as well so you can continue to monitor the situation while on the move.
The addition of a CB radio is also a good idea, many people have these and during emergencies, it may allow you to communicate with relief agencies as well as private citizens who can give you situation reports from other parts of your area.
on the basic level, a
whistle can be extremely useful. put this on your belt kit.

Section 4: Lighting
The ability to light your home and your way in an emergency can be the difference between  inconvenience and a serious situation
Ready.gov recommends a
Flashlight and extra batteries, and while this is good advice, its not really enough for a disaster lasting more than a day or two. I recommend you add alternate lighting to your inventory in the form of candles, propane  and oil lamps.
Candles: Candles should be chosen for their burn time and overall safety. A good cancel choice can be found at most grocery stores. These
are pillar type candles encased in a glass jar like container and are usually approximately nine or ten inches tall. Many of these have pictures of religious icons but also come plain. Candles of this type are good because they are easily carried from one room to another safely and throw a fair amount of light. A note on scented candles: Be sure to purchase non scented candles for emergency use. If you would like to have scented candles, do yourself a favor and choose one scent. I was once told about a woman who was literally driven from her home lest she get sick from the disgusting smell of 55 different scents from the candles
Propane Lanterns: Lanterns of this type throw a large amount of light and are very safe. They use a common  propane cylinder found at any sporting goods store and at big box stores such as Walmart. They are made by many different companies and are usually very durable. Some of these companies include Coleman, American Camper and Ozark Trail. They serve their purpose well and the fuel can also be used in propane cook stoves as listed above.
Oil Lamps: Also a good option, oil lamps are easy to maintain and throw a decent amount of light. They use Kerosene or "Lamp Oil" which is just Kero that has been filtered.
Flashlights: Flashlights, as was said above are an important part of your lighting equipment. Any battery light set aside for emergencies should be kept empty with the batteries necessary for the first usage taped to the outside of the flashlight. this keeps the batteries from slowly draining due to their connection to the flashlight. Also, it keeps the flashlight from getting ruined should the batteries explode.

Section 5: Medical
Ready.gov recommends a
First aid kit  and this is a very important thing. Now I am not an expert on first aid but I do know that the ready made store bought kits are rarely as complete as they should be.
Some things I have found helpful to add to first aid kits:
Section 6: Safety and Defense
Here I will lump a bunch of things together. Safety in a disaster is very important and there is equipment and methods which allow you and yours to remain safe and secure in your home or retreat location.
To begin, I want to discuss tools useful in keeping your home secure from contaminants found in the air. These can include  Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) threats imposed intentionally or as a result of damage to holding facilities.
Ready.gov recommends: "
Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place"
and this is a good idea. For the mask, be sure to get the kind with removable filters or upgrade to an actual gas mask. Gas masks can be had in many sizes and the main thing to remember is that they must suction to your face correctly to seal out the contaminants. The plastic sheeting comes in when you are creating a "safe room" in your house. A safe room is one in which NBC threats are for the most part kept out. Now plastic will only do so much and if someone drops THE BOMB on your city, plastic sheeting will not keep out the large quantities of radioactive fallout  but for short term protection from gas leaks, "dirty bombs", bioterrorism and other such issues, the plastic sheeting method does well.
The Secret is to pre-choose your "safe room" ahead of time and to stock it with your emergency supplies. Pick an interior room with few if any windows. Be prepared to block off doorways,furnace vents and windows. to do this, pre-cut plastic sheeting to fit these items and have a roll of duck tape handy. Mark the sections of pre-cut plastic sheeting for ease of identification in stressful situations.
In the case of these sorts of attacks your first priority is to:
A suggestion: I have heard that a houseplant will generate a ton of oxygen and in a sealed off room, that's an issue. Its worth putting a spider plant or something of that nature in the room you plan to use for a safe room.

Emergency safety tools
In a disaster,  the ability to remain safe depends many times on what you have on hand.
your disaster preparedness supplies should include the following tools:
* Training in the safe use of cutting tools should be given to all members of the family

This is a subject that can get heated with many points of view and Im going to warn you, what I am about to say is not PC. Im not that kind of person. Im here to tell you there is only one answer: either you equip yourself to defend your family and the preparations you have made, or you die, its that simple. All of the fuzzy bunny notions of nonviolence and passive ideas go out the window when a group of thugs wants to rape and murder you and your loved ones for your can of beans.
Now there are many schools of thought on this subject and for those with tons of experience and/or training in firearms, this passage is not for you. For the average person who needs to provide themselves with decent protection in the home or on the way to somewhere else during a disaster, the pump action shotgun fits the bill quite nicely. Its not too heavy and is potent at the ranges you will find yourself needing it for.
Now some would tell you that you absolutely NEED a tactical shotgun with extended magazine tube, pistol grip, special sights and so on. While all of those things are great, they are also very expensive! They are also not necessary. Here is my recommendations. Purchase a decent shotgun made by Mossburg or Remington. Your choices should revolve around the Mossberg 500 series or the Remington 870 in either 20 gauge or 12 gauge. 12 gauge has more power but some may find the recoil a bit hard to handle. 20 gauge is a much easier to handle but sacrifices some range with slugs and shot. Whichever you choose, pick a smooth bore slug barrel with decent sights. Another option is to purchase an 18 1/2" tactical barrel for about $65 which is shorter for ease of movement when moving through a house. Another modification is very inexpensive, it consists of a neoprene sleeve that goes over the stock and hold five extra shells, enough for a full reload. this is nice as you may not be using the shotgun just for defense. sometimes you might want to take a shot at that big fat squirrel in the back yard. 00 Buckshot or a deer slug are not the best choice for small game hunting and being able to hand load some #6 Borsht into the weapon allows you to fill the stew pot. In general, your best bet is to keep a decent supply of ammunition on hand to take care of defense and game getting needs. For this I would have a minimum of 50 rounds of 00 Buckshot, 50 Rounds of Deer Slugs, and about 150 rounds of #6 Low Brass Game loads (AKA Bird shot)  With these types around, you should be well equipped to handle whatever comes at you for the most part.
The Authors 12 ga Mossberg 500a

The Author's Mossburg 500a 12 ga with 18 1/2 inch tactical barrel

Uses for Plastic sheeting:
When it comes to plastic sheeting, this has many uses in addition to sealing off your house. It can also fix leaks and create extra shelter spaces. To this end, be sure to get substantial plastic sheeting in 4 mil or better. This will ensure that the plastic will stand up to use. In addition, plastic tarps and contractor grade trash bags are a good idea.

Section 7: Sanitation (aka the poopie section)
Sanitation becomes a rather serious issue when the toilets don't flush and the faucets don't contain water. The fact is, for all the food you store up, eventually you will have to store the same amount of human waste. On a much simpler scale, keeping clean is the best way to stay healthy. In this section Im going to try and give you some pointers on what you can do to manage your sanitation needs.
The first obstacle is the issue of "Where do I go to the bathroom?" Well there are a few options, many surround the concept of the old fashioned outhouse. Every house should have a decent shovel. This should be one of the sharp tip vority used in turning garden soil and such.  With said shovel dig a hole around  4 foot square and 3 feet deep minimum. Surround the area with a framework of walls made from tarps and poles for use as a privacy screen and as shelter. The issue now is how to sit down. Many different options present themselves. Some may find it easy just to squat down and do your thing but for most of us, we find it more convenient to sit down. There are a number of options in this regard from actually pre-building a wooden "box" with holes and toilet seat attached for comfort, another is a 5 gallon bucket on which a toilet seat is attached (in fact, specially made toilet seats are designed to fit said bucket) and the waste is removed several times a day into said hole. You can get away with this for a while provided you cover the waste with leaves, loamy earth, straw etc. Quick Lime, if you have it works well for this.  Neither of these are perfect solutions but one cant have everything neat and tidy in such a situation.

The second obstacle is storage of general household waste. Now here is a two fold issue. Generating garbage not only creates a stinky mess with which there is no DPW to come by and pick up and two, shouts to the world "these people have supplies!" This makes you a target. So what to do with your garbage? First things first, anything that can be composted should be. remove the bits and ends of carrots, broccoli (if you have it) bad lettuce and other vegetable waste, combined with egg shells and such and you reduce your garbage by half in most cases. When it comes to used cans and bottles: Wash them and set them aside. you never know when you might need such things useful. As for grease and oil from frying pans, try and filter it and put it back in the containers as much as possible.
For things like snot rags, and other contaminated paper products, a metal barrel in the back yard for burning might not be a bad idea. The main idea is to avoid too much in the way of rubbish buildup.
Some items you should keep on hand for sanitation include:

Section 8: Mental Health
Maintaining a decent attitude goes a long way toward survival in any emergency situation and providing yourself with aids to maintaining a positive mental attitude are essential.
The biggest issue people face when in a disaster us the inability to control their surroundings. ways to cope with this include keeping busy with household projects centered around maintaining normal operations in the home.  establishing a routine brings normalcy and a feeling of control of your immediate surroundings and that things aren't so bad.  The other area is the lack of communication with the outside world. the ticket here is in your neighbors. talk to them get to know them and maybe even help them get their houses back together. Even better, get to know them now and perhaps even bring up home emergency preparation with them. the neighborhood can be a really great resource both in terms of company and in terms of sheer ability to respond to the emergency in all its facets.
The other ticket is entertainment. this is a real issue for children who are used to the TV, Computer, Video games etc. Being able to provide them with some sort of outlet is very important. Having board games, handheld battery operated video games  and other non electric amusements are essential. Another way to keep them busy is to include them in the routine. Their feelings of isolation and lack of control are equal to yours. Sometime they are worse. Establishing them as a useful and productive part of the survival process is vital in this case. There is  much more to this that I could write about but im not a psychologist.

Section 9: Bugging out
On some occasions, you just cant stay home and bugging out is necessary. Now the subject of the bug-out bag is one that has been hashed out a hundred thousand times on the web so below is just a general idea of what should be in a bug out bag/ The most important thing is that you are able to carry this stuff with you. The rule of thumb is that what you would take on a backpacking trip is most likely what you should bring if you have to bug out. Each member of the family should have the following basics: