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)
Ready.gov gives the following information on storing water:
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
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.
- One or two large stock pots that can be suspended over a
fire (for boiling)
- At least two plastic buckets for carrying water from other
locations and for collecting water from rain gutters and other sources
during rain storms.
- 2 or three gallons of bleach( Chlorine bleach, not bleach
substitute! No colours or scents!) for basic water treatment.
- A hand operated water purifier such as one made by Katadyn.
This should be in your BOB and will give you clean water on the go as
well as at home. In addition, you can also get some home based non
electric water purification systems such as the "Berky"
systems which use gravity to push the water through the filter
elements, which means no electricity is used in the process.
- Canteens on a belt: you need to be able to take water with
you in certain situations and the ability to carry it conveniently is
very important. The best bet in my opinion is the Military Surplus
canteen with cover and canteen cup. this gives you a cooking apparatus
(the cup) a way to carry the canteen (the cover) and a belt carry it
conveniently and to store other necessities.
Ready.gov has this to say about food
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
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).
- juice mixes
- canned foods (full meals are best, less prep work)
- MREs (if you have the money)
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
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.
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:
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
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
- Butterfly closures
- more medical tape
- duck tape
- 4x4 trauma pads
- a good set of EMS Shears
- extra locking blade knife
- pen light
- surgical sponges
- combat dressings
- a sling
- a bottle of water
(unopened) for irrigation, while not sterile, its pretty close.
- a bunch of latex gloves
- hot and cold packs
Pads: great as wound dressings
- Prescription medications and
glasses ( your prescriptions) Save your old glasses
- Emergency reference material such
as a first aid book and a wilderness survival manual
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
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
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.
- Immediately don protective
clothing and/or filter mask
- close and lock all windows,
- remove air conditioning units from windows (even if it means
dumping them out the window)
- turn off any forced air or air circulation systems in your
home (furnace, central air)
- close doors to exterior rooms and LOCK all exterior doors.
- bring any emergency supplies not stored in designated safe
room to the room and shut the door.
- Immediately apply protective sheeting sections to
windows and do not leave the safe room until you are told to do so.
- take an inventory of what you have and distribute tools and
equipment to everyone in the 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
- Wrench or
pliers to turn off utilities
- a good sharp single bit axe: for clearing downed trees and
for cutting firewood
- a crowbar
- Leatherman or Gerber Multi-tool for each member of the
family (older kids 8-18 included) *
- two full size shovels
- fixed blade knives (K-Bar, Gerber, Cold Steel or similar)
for all adult members of the household: Multiple uses
- Hack saw: for cutting metal pipe, structural materials etc.
- Bow saw *
- Plywood ( for securing broken windows, pre- cut to fit your
- Hammer and nails
- 4-mill plastic sheeting: multiple uses
- large and medium bastard files: for sharpening and
maintaining tools such as axes, shovels, machetes etc.
- A machete*
- Whetstones for sharpening knives (a dull knife is a
Ready.gov: Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.
additional bedding if you live in a cold weather climate.
Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When
parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant.
Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of
regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use
scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
Ready.gov: Complete change of clothing including a long
pants and sturdy boots. Consider additional clothing if you live in a
cold weather climate.
- Fire Extinguisher
- Matches and Bic style butane lighters in a watertight
container such as a zip lock bag
- Can opener Although your multi-tools have one, the crank
style can opener is a handy thing.
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
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 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
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
- garbage bags and plastic ties
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- 5 gallon plastic buckets
- Quick Lime
- soaps and detergents for cleaning
- rubber gloves
- Wash tub and wash board for cloths and people washing (a
large size washtub makes a halfway decent bathtub)
- a 55 gallon drum with no lid to use as a burn barrel
- a goat (no seriously, if you can have one, they eat just
about anything!) (Lori says pigs work too!!)
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.
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:
food for 3 days (not hard to do!)
- an extra
change of cloths
- A good
pair of hiking boots
- A mess
kit (knife fork and spoon set) and A good stainless nesting cook set.
- A decent
pocket knife : Get a REAL Swiss Army knife (locking blade kind if
sheath knife: Something name brand , (Gerber, Cold Steel, Buck, Case)
DON'T SKIMP ON THIS
good Internal or External Frame backpack
fishing pole and one of those mini tackle boxes with some weights,
lures, snells, hooks etc.
ways to start a fire: Bic Lighters, Metal Match, Matches in a
Shotgun and ammunition
Gerber or Leatherman Multi-tool
pair of gloves
- A wide brim hat and a hard hat
- Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt,
pants and sturdy boots. Consider additional clothing if you live in a
cold weather climate
grade trash bags
- Local maps
(road atlas, Topo Maps )
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance
identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable
- Cash or traveler's checks and change
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children