Preparing for the Next Disaster

We go to bed each night and wake up each morning secure that our life will continue on its own safe track. In reality each day poses it’s very own risks and dangers, and we are vulnerable to a multitude of potential risks. Though it is impossible to prepare for every possible dooms-day scenario that could befall us, we can prepare for certain types of common disaster that could impact us on any given day. Are you ready?

Power failure, the only people who are not immune to this little disaster are the folks who live without electricity in the first place. My guess is those folks are in the minority. It is not unusual to experience a power outage. Most interruptions of power are short-term and hardly affect our day to day life. Then there are those situations where something out of the norm happens and we find ourselves confronted with a loss of power for days, or weeks. Hurricane, tornado, terrorism, ice storms, earthquakes, a major failure in the process that supplies us with electricity can set off a chain of events that puts us in pretty dire straights. Suddenly the furnace doesn’t operate, or the water doesn’t pump, the water lines freeze, the house is cold, and maybe you don’t have an alternative place to go to keep warm.

Natural disaster, these are most often unpredictable events that drop on us unannounced. Natural disasters take the form of floods, storms with high winds, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunami, and falling meteorites. Depending on where we live our risks of being a casualty of a natural disaster varies. We can certainly avoid some of the risk involved by building well above the flood plain of rivers, not living on the coastal areas at risk for hurricanes or walls of water rushing in. Geological surveys can tell us where volcano have erupted in the past, and the location of major and minor fault lines tip us off to high risk areas for earthquake.

Acts of terrorism are a new element of risk that has been sadly introduced to the American lifestyle. Sadly there isn’t much we can do to avoid it except to pay particular attention to your surroundings and your eye on people acting strangely or out of the ordinary.

Pandemics have been known to erupt over the centuries, spreading across the continents like a deadly cloud. Though treatment options for many diseases are much improved in our lifetime, the risk of contracting a disease is heightened by the easy of travel. Millions of people cross our borders from all over the world on a daily basis. Should a new virus emerge we all will be at risk. The Bird Flu is the virus that is expected to mutate. When it does we will face the next great pandemic.

So what can we do to reduce our discomfort and make survival easier in the face of disaster? Obviously most disasters are beyond the scope of our control. All we can do is attempt to alleviate risk, or prepare for the outcome of disaster. Food, water, heat, and are necessary to basic survival, power and communication provide some form of normalcy to overtaxed lives.

Our first priority is food and water. We can survive several weeks in a worst case scenario with limited to no food source. You must however have water to hydrate your body or your systems will shut down and frankly you won’t make it but a few days. Hydration is your top priority. Are you ready if the city water stops flowing and the stores have sold out all their bottled water? In the case of a crisis the first thing people do is make a run on the stores, scrambling to stock up. You can avoid this by having a stock of 30 gallons of drinking water on hand. Rotate it each week as you shop, use a couple jugs each week, and then replace them, moving out the old for the new. It is a minimal expense, and once the habit is instilled, you will always have a thirty day supply of drinking water in storage at all times. An alternative is to stock up a two week supply of water and a two week supply of fruit juices, soda, coffee, and tea. The idea though is to have thirty days supply of drinkable fluids at all times. Food becomes our second priority if disaster affects the supply lines that interrupt the delivery of food to grocery stores. A minimum of thirty days, and better would be a six month supply of food that will remain stable stored with little to no heat, and can be prepared easily with little or no power source. Canned meats, peanut butter, crackers, dried fruits, dried meats, instant potatoes, soup packets, dried milk, instant cereals, peanut butter and cheese crackers, think about the possibilities and how you can create a safe small horde of emergency food. Store your supplies in a dry, dark, cool area, in totes with snap on lids to keep out moisture, insects, and mice. Replenish items as they are about to expire, you can add them to your pantry or donate unused items to a local shelter or food pantry before they expire.

The powers out, now what do I do? You will be alright if you have flashlights, kerosene lamps, and kerosene heaters. You will be able to keep refrigeration going if you have a gas generator. Cooking becomes possible with your gas grill. How feasible all of this becomes is based on how much fuel you have stored and set aside for the emergency. An alternative heat source in the home can be a real life saver. Wood stoves make a great alternative heat source. Of course you must have been proactive enough to have installed one prior to an emergency situation arising. A stockpile of wood, propane, and kerosene will be necessary to fuel these apparatus.

Be sure everyone has a spare set of gloves in storage for cold weather emergencies, as well as extra blankets, or down sleeping bags. Each member of your family should have a pair of thermal socks and insulated winter boots. Down jackets can help to keep you warm should your temporary heat source run out of fuel.

Transportation, is it an issue? You bet it is if there is a run of fuel at the local filling stations. The only way around this one is to have a hundred gallon home fuel tank. Keep it topped off monthly, occasionally using some of it, then replenishing to keep the fuel fresh and ready for use.

Communication becomes vitally important in crisis situations. A wireless telephone should be charged at all times, and carried on your person. Keeping in communication with family and friends during an emergency is key to developing a support network. It can also be critical for communication with life saving help in the case of injury or accident. A radio and supply of batteries will keep you up to date on what is happening.

Our health becomes the other important factor. Are we prepared for a health crisis under extreme circumstances? You should have a thirty day supply of prescription medication on hand at all times. Your household should have a good book on advanced first aid, and a well stocked emergency supply kit. Your medicine cabinet should be stocked with aspirin, pain killers, cough syrups, antacids, band aids, sterile gauze, tape, antibiotic ointments, antihistamines, and toothache remedy. A good multivitamin will bolster your body during the change in nutrition. Study up on your first aid so that you know how to handle an emergency medical situation until you can get more qualified help.

I am hopeful that none of us will need most of the measures suggested for short term survival in a disaster situation. But wouldn’t it be nice, should the worst happen, that we be ready?

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