1. In the past several years, especially since the 2004 Indonesian earthquake and resulting Tsunami that hit Thailand, warning systems including seismic sensors, Tsunami detecting buoys, and communication and warning systems have been improved dramatically. If you live (or are visiting) near an area at risk for Tsunamis, have you stopped to learn about the official warning system? Who gives it? Will they give you any instruction? What does the siren sound like?
2. In some instances an incoming Tsunami will draw water away from a beach as it heads toward shore. In fact, in 2004, an Australian Life Guard working in Phuket, Thailand knew what it meant for the tide to go out farther than normal and he managed to clear his beach and get guests to safety. Keep an eye on the tide, but don't go to the beach to look at it. Stay away if a Tsunami Watch (and especially a Warning) is given.
1. One term you'll hear is "vertical evacuation." This means go up, either to upper floors in a strong building, or to high ground.
2. Where is the destination you'd go in a particular area? One habit to get into, regardless of the emergency or where you might be, is to look around for emergency warning signs or systems, gear, shelter, supplies, and evacuation destinations. Make it a habit of yours where ever you go regardless of potential threats you may face.
3. Look around your area and remember which buildings are more substantial. Some may actually have Tsunami info posted telling visitors that in event of a Tsunami they are either to head to upper floors (but NEVER use the elevator!) or to vacate the building in favor of a different location.
4. Some locations will identify Tsunami evacuation roads and will have specific destinations for motorists.
1. In any evacuation scenario you may have to rely on your primary vehicle to get you out of harms' way. Is yours ready? Do you always have your keys on you? Do you keep the gas tank full at all times? In Tsunamis past, we've seen footage of people lined up at gas stations. This is severely wasted time, and in any emergency time is our biggest asset. Keeping your gas tank full at all times not only helps your family by allowing you to get to safety quickly, it helps others because you're not one of the people in line at the gas station.
2. Though we mention your vehicle here, we'll revisit the fact that your evacuation destination might well be an upper floor of the building you're in. Your decision on whether to go to an upper floor or higher ground location should be dictated by A) Time - how long before the first wave hits and how much time you might need to get to another location, B) Where you'll be the safest, C) Road conditions and current traffic since you don't want to be sitting unprotected in gridlock traffic, D) Whether or not you need to provide safety to others, and E) Where are your safety supplies and gear?
3. Though your primary vehicle should be your first choice, what if you cant' get to it? Do you have a Plan B? Are local busses or other vehicles getting people to safety? Is there even time to look around for other transportation? Do you have a bicycle (an early warning and a bicycle will get you farther than standing around not reacting at all)? In an emergency, options are our friends. Know your options.
1. A Tsunami is an evacuation scenario if there ever was one. How ready are you to perform an evacuation at all? Since time is our most valuable asset, how much time have you saved by having a pre-packed kit for each family member and pets? Are you ready to "grab and go?" Do you have your "bugout kits" ready?
2. As you contemplate heading to upper floors or higher ground (now, while we're discussing this academically and it's not an actual emergency), remember that this scenario is an evacuation that is coupled somewhat with shelter-in-place reactions. Therefore, you want to be equipped and ready for both. So... where's your kit? What does it contain? Will it help you get out of harm's way as well as sustain you once you get where you're going? Do you keep a kit at home, at work, or in the car? Maybe you have items at all three locations? Remember this too, that if you're simply climbing the stairs to upper floors in the same building (NEVER use the elevator) that it's still an evacuation and you should carry your gear with you because when the emergency occurs, you may be left with only what you have with you.
3. Since time is one of our most valuable assets in any emergency, what do you have in place that will help you save time in this scenario? We mentioned keeping your car gassed and ready (sitting in line at a gas station is not a model of an efficient evacuation), and we just mentioned your gear. How about knowledge? Do you know where you might go? Do you have hardcopy maps in case the smart phone isn't working or the cell towers are down? Do you have alternate ways to communicate with loved ones if primary communication methods don't work?
Safety & Secondaries
1. Misery loves company, so one of the key points to keep in mind is that a major emergency is probably not going to be the only emergency. You might have made it under a table in time during the earthquake, but what about the dam up the river that was cracked and is about to break? What if there's a panicked evacuation and you or a family member are injured? How ready are you for that? Do you have your first aid gear? Are you trained to use it? Do you have gear for only your area's most likely scenario, or are you ready for an all-hazards scenario?
2. Need a list of things to keep in mind? Tsunamis don't just happen. They're usually triggered by earthquakes. So, when the earthquake hits are you going to automatically think "Tsunami?" How about fire? Fire is all too common an occurrence after destructive events - even floods. And floods? Tsunamis aside, what if the dam breaks after an earthquake? Do you know how many dams there are in the US alone?
3. The main point here is to be ready for "the other shoe to drop." Maintain your composure in the first emergency by being prepared so that when the second emergency crops up you're able to handle that as well.
Though just a small, small section of Disaster Prep 101, we wanted to pass this along to make you think of two things. One, disasters are survivable if you're prepared. Two, there is so much more to know with Tsunami preparedness (or any disaster) than an academic discussion of how the event occurs - which is pretty much all we'll get from most news channels.
How ready are you? Did the news give you a good wake-up call?
Preparedness really is a simple thing and can be easily incorporated into your lifestyle.
The US has more tornadoes than any other area on the globe. We get them in the spring, as weather changes in the fall, when summer storms hit, and as byproducts of hurricanes. Though the Midwest is known as "tornado alley," there's really no place in the country that's immune. Add to this the fact that hurricanes and severe thunderstorms can produce directional winds nearly as destructive as the vortex of a twister, and it's easy to see that we need additional preparedness info beyond "duck and cover."
We're going to cover the six main areas of tornado preparedness that will help you before, during, and after a tornado or heavy storm strikes. Appropriately, we'll use the acronym S.T.O.R.M.S.:
Shelter - Strengthen your home and know where to find expedient shelter.
Time - Increase your chances of getting the early warning.
Others - Safety and protection involves the whole family and communicating with others.
Resources - You'll need everything from immediate supply to good insurance.
Medical - Help yourself now to save the injured later.
Sweeping Up - Tips and tricks for dealing with the aftermath.
Severe storms with driving rain, possible hail, and projectiles hurled by strong winds offer extreme dangers from which we need to protect ourselves. The best protection would be a steel-reinforced concrete safe room located in the basement of a structurally sound building. Lacking that, let's look at a few things you should do now:
Reinforce your house. There are simple things we can do to greatly strengthen our homes. Ask your local home-supply store rep about angle brackets, strapping, and techniques to install them to make your roof, walls, and connection to the foundation stronger. Also, do an internet search for "hurricane retrofit" (including quotes) to find additional instruction.
Create a safe room or area within your home. The general rule of thumb is to pick an area near the center of your house and below ground if possible or at least on the lowest floor. Consider these points:
- Turn your walk-in closet into a safe area. Remove the sheetrock from walls and ceiling, add extra wall studs held in place with screws, strapping, and angle brackets, and then replace the sheetrock with one or two layers of Â¾" marine plywood held in place with structural adhesive and screws. Finish and paint the walls and you'll never know it was retrofitted. (We have plans and schematics in our preparedness manual.)
- If you live in a mobile home, your best bet for safety would be a storm cellar. One simple and relatively inexpensive way to make a storm cellar is to have a septic tank company install a clean new unit in your yard, but leave about a foot above the ground. You can build a strong cover over that and use it as an outdoor deck, or as the foundation for a storage shed.
- Some locations might reimburse you for building a safe room. Check with your tax assessor, county extension office, insurance provider, insurance commissioner, or local emergency management office.
Learn the "safe points." When a tornado strikes you might be at home, but it's more likely you'll be at work, out running errands, or on a trip. Learn to recognize all the locations that will provide protection. Does the building you're in have shelters? For example, in the Denver Airport, the restrooms are designated tornado shelters. Does the building have a basement? Are you on the road? How far are you from a known safe building, or from a deep ditch?
Time In emergencies, our most important asset is time. The two best ways to gain extra time in weather emergencies are to prepare now, and to get as early a warning as possible that severe weather is heading your way. If you wait for your community's alert sirens, you've waited too long.
Buy a Weather Alert Radio. Not only do they warn you of inclement weather, but the system is now being tied in to the regular EAS system to warn you of other emergencies.
Sign up for an alternate alert service such as the Weather Channel's "Notify" which can be found on their website. Hint: When you get the warning, take action! Don't do dumb things like videotaping the tornado.
Learn the indicators of severe weather. The Weather Channel and others such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have educational information that will teach you how to spot incoming severe weather. Some "symptoms" may include:
- A large anvil-shaped thunderhead cloud or a thick, very dark, cloud cover with a pea-soup consistency. - Hail or, in some cases, unseasonable snow.
- Green lightning (as lightning flashes behind clouds heavily laden with water).
- A sudden change in humidity, wind direction or wind speed, rain volume, or rain direction.
- A sudden change in air pressure (your ears may pop).
Network with others. Sometimes our friends and coworkers are our best early warning system. Develop a phone tree or at least a general agreement among friends and relatives that you'll warn each other about dangers in the area.
Others There are two sets of "others" you might deal with in concert with a severe storm. One is your family and the other is first responders. Communicate with your family both now - to prepare for a tornado - and later in the event a tornado watch or warning is given. You also may need to communicate with first responders if you experience injury or certain types of property damage that requires official assistance. Consider:
Tornado drills. Emergency reactions are worth practicing. Have your family practice getting into the safe room and into a safe position ("duck and cover") within 30 seconds or less.
Protect your pets. On warning of severe weather, round up your pets, put them on leads or in carriers, and take them to your safe area. If your house is damaged in the storm your pets are more protected and easier to care for afterward. Hint: You can train your pets to head to the safe room on command. Your vet can give you some training pointers.
Communication and signaling may be vitally important if your home is damaged and/or someone sustains injury during a tornado. For example, though everyone might be uninjured, you may be trapped in the debris that was once your home and need someone to dig you out. In addition to your house phone and cell phone, have backup options like a hand-held two-way radio, and something that can make a loud noise such as an air-horn. Also, make sure your neighbors know you have a safe room in the house, or storm cellar in your yard. They can tell authorities where to look if no one has heard from you.
Resources In a disaster, you'll need goods, gear, or services to help you deal with the event and then recover afterward. Make sure you have adequately covered each of the following areas:
Make sure your insurance policy covers all types of natural disaster including water damage from rain or flood since many policies have strict exclusions. Also, make sure your policy will provide for the costs of temporary lodging and the full replacement value for your property and possessions.
Keep your isolation and evacuation supplies together in a protected spot where you can access them immediately, or where they'll be protected if your home is damaged while you're away.
Make a list of services you might need after a tornado, such as cleanup and repair services or temporary lodging. Look through your phone book to find services like tree-cutting and debris removal, structural home repairs, automotive repairs, lodging, etc. Write their contact information down and keep it with your emergency kits so you can call these services immediately after a disaster to get your name on their lists.
Medical We're hoping that all the advice above has kept you safe in the event of a tornado. However, we know things do happen and people get hurt. Cover the following, just in case:
First aid training is important for every family regardless of the threat, so learn the basics of general first aid and CPR. Next, talk with your doctor about first aid measures for specific ailments. For example, if someone in your family has Asthma and they have an attack, what are some things you can do to care for them if you can't immediately get to their inhaler or medication?
First aid kits are a must and families should have several and not just one. The main kit should be kept in the home, but smaller kits should be kept in each automobile and at your workplace.
Copies of medical information should be kept at home. After a destructive event there's no guarantee your family doctor will be available or that the hospital's computers will be functional. In case of injury, medical practitioners will need to know a general medical history of the injured. Keep a list of ailments, conditions, special medical needs, and current medications of each family member (including pets). Remember, even though you're the head of household and you know all that information, you may be injured and unable to communicate.
Sweeping Up All destructive events have at least one thing in common; they're going to create quite a mess. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe while cleaning up:
Though you might think the power is completely out, stay away from downed power lines.
Stay alert to the hissing sound of a broken gas line or the smell of gas.
Dress for the weather, but still dress to protect. Wear sturdy shoes or boots (and watch out for boards with nails), a hat and sunscreen, insect repellant, and heavy work gloves. The hospitals will be too full of major injuries to deal with the minor injuries you could have prevented.
Physical labor after a stressful event can be quite taxing. Drink plenty of fluids, eat regularly, and take periodic breaks.
Here is where you'd need your list of professional cleanup services. Call as soon as possible.
In the case of total destruction, your property itself will be a trash pile. Therefore, use your main trashcan as a receptacle for the items you want to salvage. Label it accordingly so no one throws away its contents. Hint: Take photographs or video of all the damage for insurance purposes.
It's possible that your valued possessions might be strewn about the neighborhood. It'll be easier to have things returned if your name is written or engraved on them. If you don't want to use your name, use a unique identifier such as the first phone number you can remember from childhood. Hint: Never use your Social Security Number.
Though this article is longer than average, there is still no way we can pass along all the helpful hints and tips that will keep you safe in an emergency and help you recover afterward. Do what you can with the information presented, and continue your education on your own. The steps you take to protect yourself against tornadoes will help protect you and yours during any number of other disaster preparedness scenarios. Stay safe!
What are the consequences of a Strong Earthquake?
Your home may have some level of structural damage to foundations, cripple walls, anchorage of walls to the floor or roof, masonry chimney, and around the garage opening or large window openings if soft story conditions are met. On the other hand, damage to non-structural elements and contents is most likely to occur to interior partitions, exterior wall panels, suspended ceilings, electrical and mechanical equipment, ducts, water and gas pipes, water heaters, hanging objects, furniture, home electronics, dishes, etc. In the meantime, electrical, gas, water and sewage, and transportation systems are most likely to be disrupted for several days, weeks, or even months after a strong earthquake. Emergency response agencies and hospitals will likely be over-whelmed and unable to provide immediate assistance. To help your family cope during and after future inevitable earthquakes, you should establish, update, or maintain your own earthquake preparedness plan now.
What is an Earthquake Preparedness Plan?
Earthquake preparedness is to know how to setup various disaster plans before a moderate-to-large earthquake hits your area, and how to react during and after the earthquake. The objective is to protect yourself and your family from destructive earthquakes as well as to minimize the earthquake damage to your home and its contents. Seismic retrofitting and contents mitigation are two major components of earthquake preparedness that will be discussed in separate articles. Disaster management and disaster recovery during and after the earthquake will also be discussed in another article. In this article, you will learn how to prepare personal survival kits, a household emergency kit including emergency food and water for two weeks, a financial recovery kit, and other essential emergency preparedness items.
How to Prepare Personal Survival Kits?
For each household member; keep one survival kit at home, another in the car, and a third kit at work/school. Backpacks or other small bags are best for survival kits. These kits are collections of first aid, survival, and emergency supplies that shall include:
- Medications, prescriptions list, medical insurance cards copies, doctors' names and contact information.
- First aid kit and handbook, dust mask, sturdy shoes, and whistle.
- Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses and cleaning solutions.
- Personal hygiene supplies.
- Bottled water, snack foods high in calories, and toiletries.
- Working flash-light with extra batteries and light bulbs.
- Extra cell phone battery and charger.
- Emergency cash and road maps.
- Copies of personal identification, and list of out-of-area emergency contact phone numbers.
- Games, crayons, writing materials and teddy bears for children.
How to Prepare a Household Emergency Kit?
Store a household emergency kit in an easily accessible outdoor location other than the garage. This kit which complements your family's personal survival kits should be in a large watertight container that can be easily moved and should hold at least one week (ideally two weeks) emergency supplies of the following items:
- A minimum of one gallon per person per day of drinking water.
- Emergency food that is canned and packaged.
- Cooking utensils including a manual can opener.
- Charcoal or gas grill for outdoor cooking and matches.
- Pet food and pet restraints.
- First aid supplies and medications.
- Essential hygiene items such as soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper.
- Extra car and house keys.
- A wrench and other basic tools.
- Working flash-light with extra batteries and light bulbs.
- A portable battery-operated radio with spare batteries.
- Comfortable warm clothing, baby items, extra socks, blankets or sleeping bags, and even a tent.
- Work gloves and protective goggles.
- Heavy-duty plastic bags for waste and to serve other uses.
How to Prepare a Financial Recovery Kit?
Copies of your essential financial documents should be kept in a fire-proof document safe in order to be available after a damaging earthquake. Consider purchasing a home safe or renting a safe deposit box. Copies of essential documents in this financial recovery kit shall include:
- Picture identifications, birth certificates, social security cards, naturalization papers or residency documents, passports, driver licenses, marriage license or divorce papers, child custody papers, and power of attorney papers.
- Medical prescription and records.
- Mortgage, home improvement records, homeowner and auto insurance policies, and earthquake insurance policy.
- A list of phone numbers for your financial institutions and credit card companies.
- Bank statements and financial records, credit card numbers, and certificates for stocks, bonds, and other investments.
- A list of your household inventory and possessions with photos and videos. Appraisals of valuable jewelry, art, and antiques. This item is particularly important for earthquake insurance claims.
- Deeds, titles, and other ownership records for property such as homes, autos, recreation vehicles, and boats.
- A backup of critical files on your computer. A list of names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of critical personal and business contacts.
- Wills or trust documents.
- Emergency cash.
Other Emergency Preparedness Items
- Provide all family members with a list of important contact phone numbers including a designated out-of-area emergency contact person who can be called by everyone to tell where they are.
- Locate a safe place outside your home to meet your family after the shaking stops.
- Determine where to live if your home cannot be occupied after an earthquake.
- Know about the earthquake preparedness plan developed by your children's school or day care.
- Keep a working flashlight and sturdy shoes next to everyone's bed.
- Install smoke alarms, test them monthly, and change the battery once a year.
- Buy a fire extinguisher, put it in an easily accessible location, and get training in how to use it properly.
- Keep needed tools near utility shutoffs and learn how to turn off electricity, water, and gas. Only turn off the gas if you smell or hear leaking gas.
- Identify safe spots in every room, such as under sturdy desks and tables, then practice "drop, cover, and hold on" with your family specially children. Learn how to protect your head at all times during earthquake shaking.
- Determine the best escape routes from your home and from each room.
- Take a Red Cross first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training course.
If you live in California
You should participate in the annual Great California ShakeOut Earthquake Drill. You can register at https://www.shakeout.org/ now for the 2010 ShakeOut Drill on October 21 at 10:21 a.m.! It is a great opportunity to learn how to protect yourself and your family during earthquakes, and to get prepared. More than 6.9 million Californians participated in the second annual earthquake drill in 2009.
The 2010 Haiti earthquake is a wake up call for anyone who lives in an active seismic region to establish, update, or maintain their own earthquake preparedness plan. In the United States, these regions include -but not limited to- Alaska and the West Coast especially California; the Midwestern States especially Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee around the New Madrid and the Wabash Valley Seismic Zones; and the Charleston area in South Carolina.
An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure, and preparedness always beats post-disaster trauma.
However, though our focus is before-the-event efforts, we will not sit back and watch our friends in New England suffer through the negatives they can change. So here are just a very few of the things we can post today to help:
1. Protection from the elements. Late-season hurricanes in the northeast mean folks are without power, and sometimes without windows, roofs, walls, doors, or insulation. If your house is habitable, keep what doors and windows you have closed, and seal seams with plastic sheets (think shower curtains) and any kind of tape you have. Simply cutting down on wind works wonders with keeping warm.
2. Water. Do NOT try to purify flood waters or any standing water in your area regardless of the claims made on any filter you may have. Flood water is some nasty stuff. Use a clean plastic sheet to catch some rain water if any rain is predicted. Also if a home's hot water tank was above surge or flood levels, the water in it may be safe to drink. This also holds true for toilet tanks in upstairs bathrooms provided there is no "bowl cleaner" product used.
3. Heat. At night, stay in groups if possible both for warmth and security (a little looting in some areas already). DO NOT HEAT WITH CHARCOAL INDOORS! Charcoal is a big carbon monoxide producer and is dangerous indoors. If safe to do so, use wood from your damaged home to build a small fire outside and a safe distance from flammable material (after listening and smelling for gas leaks). Use this small fire for cooking, heating as you're gathered around it, and for heating water for hot water bottles to stay warm at night. Do not heat an indoor area with steam. Steam will moisten everything and everyone making things that much colder when the heat wears off.
4. Use your vehicles. Many cars are damaged, but even so, if it can be cranked, it can be used. Use the electric adapter to recharge your electronics. You can warm food by wrapping it in aluminum foil and placing it directly on the engine to warm (and you can warm your hot water bottles this way too), you can siphon fuel for generators, and provided the car's exhaust is not damaged, you can stay inside it for a bit to take advantage of the heater. However, don't sleep in a running car due to carbon monoxide. Hint: If you have a carbon monoxide detector in your house, take it out to the car when someone is inside with the engine running to make sure there are no carbon monoxide leaks in the car. Also, if you have a "power inverter" your car becomes a small electric generator for small household appliances. Many people overlook this as a source of power so if any automotive or hardware stores are open at all, they may have a few. Headlights can be used to illuminate small areas at night (and you can detach a headlight and use jumper cables to make the headlight a semi-mobile spotlight). Last but not least if you need to signal for help you can burn a tire. Heavy smoke can be seen from a long way off.
5. Food. Food in short-term survival is actually over-rated, especially in situations where manual labor is not very intensive. However, food is king of morale, so look for comfort foods. One overlooked source is vending machines if power in the area is on. If anyone in your area is a "survivalist" they'll probably be wanting to cook and eat displaced wildlife. Don't let them do this. Aquatic animals will be contaminated by all the nasties found in flood waters, and with as many diseases as there are running rampant in the wildlife that borders civilized areas, you really have to know what you're doing to prep and cook an animal to ensure food safety.
6. Security. Speaking of animals, you may run into issues with the two-legged variety as well as the four-legged variety. Some looting has been reported, but not nearly as much as was found after Katrina. So far. One thing to do is sleep in shifts. Let someone stay awake in rotating watches that can alert others if looters or displaced wildlife wander uninvited into your area. And if anyone has to go anywhere, always use the buddy system; even if you're just touring to see the damage up and down your street. There are too many hidden dangers to list, so "if you go out, don't go without. "
7. Communication. Many are getting emails via smart phones so that's good. Tell others to also remember text and multimedia communication. Multimedia (sending pictures) can work sometimes when text can't because of some different communications protocols some systems use. You can also use simple visual signaling if you need to signal for help or just to alert newcomers to any lingering dangers. Colored towels make good flags, torches at night can be waved, tires can be burned for smoke or light, paper lanterns illuminated with a "tea candle" can be floated like a small hot-air balloon at night, the shiny side of a CD can be a signal mirror as can the flat surface of an iPhone.
8. Documentation. Half of "surviving" a sizable disaster is setting yourself up to rebuild. Use your phone's camera and video to document property loss and area damage. Insurance companies (after a regional catastrophe like this) will be more concerned with their bottom line than yours so work now to get all the info you can to help process your claims. In a related notion, your phone's camera is your last-minute Child ID kit. Take pictures of all family members now (including pets) so you have current images of each. And, for children too young to talk or remember phone numbers or things like that, take a Sharpie and write the parent's name and info on their arms and chest.
9. If you can find a dry supply, kitty litter is the best substance for expedient toilets. Forget trying to use bleach. Check with neighbors or see if any stores are open (kitty litter will generally be low on a looter's or shopper's list). Take an empty plastic bucket, line it with a double layer of plastic trash bag, sprinkle in about an inch of litter, and then after you make your own "deposit" sprinkle on just enough litter to cover. Then place some sort of lid on it to keep it covered until next use. One bucket for each person and the rest you can figure out on your own.
10. Mutually shared perspective. The most important consideration of all in a post-disaster environment is actually morale. It'll be up to the true leaders in any given group to keep spirits up and keep everyone focused on the goal of rebuilding rather than dwelling on the loss of what was. A few keys: Stay fed and hydrated and take regular work breaks; take vitamins if you have them; tell jokes and help keep a smile on your buddy's face; look at "devastation" as a clean slate and opportunity to build something you'll enjoy even more; hop off your diet for a little while if you have some of your favorite "comfort foods" available; remember that many of our grandparents lived every day without running water or electricity; and remember that the worst is behind you.
11. Sharing power. If you have a generator, power inverter hooked up to a vehicle, or other power source, offer to share by allowing neighbors to recharge laptops, cellphones, and other communication devices. If you can get a TV with a DVD or other recorded media player, you could help neighbors by offering some entertainment, or by setting up a child "day care" for your immediate neighbors to free up the adults for other work.
12. Help people find you. Navigation after a destructive event is difficult. Street signs are down, mailboxes with house numbers are gone, etc. Do what you can to label streets and houses so that utility workers will know where they are, emergency responders can navigate, and eventually for insurances claims adjusters to find the correct property.
13. Collect valuables. This is more common after tornadoes, but just as necessary after a hurricane. Debris from damaged or destroyed houses will be strewn for miles. Help others gather their lost possessions by salvaging and saving anything that appears to have either actual or sentimental value. Since the garbage and debris will FAR outweigh these valuables, use trash cans to salvage the good stuff and leave the debris for cleanup crews. However, be sure to mark these bins as containing valuables. Later on, after things begin to normalize a bit you can host a neighborhood "Found Your Stuff" gathering and see who you can return items to.
14. In metro areas across the northeast, we'll see folks without some power and other utilities for a while, but with the repair infrastructure in the region, we're sure to see repairs coming much sooner than we did after Katrina. Encourage others to alert neighbors when utilities are back. The reason for this is that one side of the street might get power while the other side is still without. This gives the option of sharing when possible and safe.
15. If responders have not canvassed your area yet, help them by labeling houses as to their extent of damage (if any), whether the occupants are accounted for or missing, if any utilities are working, pets are missing or injured, etc. You don't have to use the official "X" symbol if you don't know it. Simple dated notes on the door will work. Also, if cell phone services are back, leave the owner's contact info on the door if emergency workers need to contact the owner or residents.
16. Light debris cleanup. As a follow-up to number two above, do what you can to move light debris off the roadways. Avoid coming near any downed power lines though. Clearer roads mean faster assistance and repair.
17. Help with communication. Get a list of "okay" or "not okay" messaging from neighbors and edit and collect the information along with the intended recipients. If anyone in your group is a Ham radio operator, if you run across a Ham radio operator, if the Red Cross or other volunteer group can get word to the outside, or if communication services start to return to your area, you'll have a set list of messaging that you can get out quickly to help your neighbors alert their friends and loved ones as to their safety.
18. When the rebuilding starts, encourage folks to be careful about the contractor they choose. Scammers will be coming out of the woodwork. FEMA's info page is: https://www.fema.gov/news-release/be-smart-about-hiring-building-contractor
19. Remind others that those in unaffected areas across the country will be approached by fake charities and scammers that will use the current disaster as a way to cheat well-meaning Americans out of their money. Remind them to never donate unless it's a well-known charity and they're sure the person contacting them is actually with that charity.
20. Now back to "survival" info. Food. Encourage neighbors to have "block cookout. " Though it seems rather inappropriate for the situation, here are the advantages: First, a lot of people might not have all the items for full meals, but put all the families together and you might find you have all the ingredients you need. Second, a group function like this helps with morale. Third, there's safety in numbers which is important until life gets back to normal.
21. More on heat and staying warm. We mentioned sealing off areas if your house was habitable (structurally sound, dry, no gas leaks or other immediate dangers, etc. ). This tip is to make a smaller area within a room that's easier to keep warm. If you have a camping tent, set it up in a room. Or, like kids love to do, take your dry furniture cushions and other items from around the house and build a "fort!" Smaller areas are easier to control temperature wise, but remember: no heating with open flame or charcoal, and make sure any small enclosure is NOT air tight. Don't want to suffocate.
22. Security. Above, we mentioned safety in numbers and also of making sure you're getting a good contractor. In the meantime, you still need to coordinate with neighbors and send up an alert when suspicious people come into the neighborhood. Among this list is people in some sort of uniform who claim to be utility company employees, private sector security, or some other official-looking person who wants access to the inside of your house or access to personal information. Don't allow anything until that person provides proper identification or provides other indicators that they really are who they say they are. Regardless of ID, it's best if you have a few friends with you if you decided to give any access or information to such a person. In an emergency the buddy system rules! Safety in numbers.
23. More on signaling Another tip to add to that list is your car's alarm. Again, your car doesn't have to be drivable to still be useful. If the battery still works in your car, the panic button on your car alarm can be used as your personal panic button if you need help from friends and neighbors. Discuss this with those around you so they'll know to do the same and also to come running if they hear yours. Also cover other noises or light signaling that will help neighbor alert neighbor. Anyone have any walkie-talkies? (Ask the kids) You can even use a baby monitor for one-way communication. How about air horns - the type you see at sporting events. Sports whistles? How about a heavy metal spoon banging against a pot? Again, if you want to learn about all the potential noise makers around the house, ask the kids. Communication is only limited by the imagination.
24. Continue your vigilance of displace animals. Though reptiles top this list after a water disaster, rats will probably be your most common issue. Also keep an eye out for pets separated from their owners and help round them up for their protection and for later return to their owners. As for the rats, if they get to be a problem, find the teenage boys in the area. One or more of them are sure to have a BB gun or really good slingshot and would love to be "hero of the day" that protects the area from vermin. However, remind them not to walk around with their BB gun if Police are in the area. Don't want to be mistaken for a looter.
25. Mold protection. During the day if the temperature is good and winds blowing, open doors and windows to allow damaged homes to dry. The dryer the better since that will stall the spread of mold. FEMA has a decent mold info brochure on their website.
26. Mutual supply. Barter will be king for a while. Don't ask anyone (just yet) to give up physical possession of the actual item, but try putting together a group list of assets that folks would be willing to give away or swap along with a list of some of their needs. Think items like toilet paper, aluminum foil, feminine hygiene products, etc. (Food and water is hopefully more available and a little more readily shared and won't need to be bartered. ) Then do some swapping once some sources and needs are matched up and folks agree to the swaps. You might want to set up a bulletin board for posting swaps, but wait to do this until you're sure that looting or security in general will not be issues.
A classic 70’s tune gives us the lyrics, “She ran calling ‘Wildfire’â€¦..” Then a love song, but today, possibly the beginnings of an action / adventure / horror movie. With rainfall low, and temperatures and winds high, the wildfires we’re currently battling across the country are heavily taxing our first responder assets. More fires will surely follow if these conditions continue.
First responder assets aside, these fires have affected local civilians. Thousands have evacuated, and many find nothing but charred vacant lots when they return. What are some innovative ways civilians can protect themselves, their property, and actually help firefighters in the process?
At the household level, most of us have smoke detectors. That’s good, because in a house fire, as in a wildfire, where there’s smoke, there’s F.L.A.M.E.:
Family â€“ Something as massive as a wildfire will affect your whole family. Prepare them now.
Landscaping â€“ Simple and subtle steps can make your property much more fire resistant.
Awareness â€“ In an emergency, time is crucial. Stay aware of the threat and get the warnings early.
Moisture â€“ Some say you fight fire with fire. We say you fight fire with water.
Evacuation â€“ Even after taking all the other steps, a wildfire is something best avoided.
Family A prepared and involved family is far more able to handle any type of disaster than those who wait for last-minute instruction. Therefore, one of the best things you can do for your family is to prepare them for one of the most common and least forgiving enemies; fire.
1. Take the family on a fire-safety tour through the house. Locate dangers such as overloaded electrical outlets and safety items such as extinguishers and escape routes.
2. In emergencies, redundancy is our friend. You should have more than one smoke detector, fire extinguisher, and escape route from rooms or the house. Hint: If you’re a heavy sleeper, buy a “baby monitor.” Put the transmitter near the farthest smoke detector and the receiver in your bedroom.
3. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to use a fire extinguisher, and how to call 911.
4. Have regular fire drills. Let each family member have a turn being the one who discovers the fire and who has to warn others. On at least every other drill, have everyone evacuate blind-folded on their hands and knees (while exercising due safety) to mimic the realistic conditions of a fire evacuation.
5. Revisit every family emergency plan with the whole family during wildfire season and certainly if one is in your area and possibly heading your way.
Though tragedies usually take the lead in newscasts, stories still abound of how some homeowners managed to protect their properties from wildfire by simple and subtle changes with their landscaping and home. Take these steps now, since in a fire, time is of the essence.
- Your main landscaping consideration is to remove any dead, dry vegetation, whether on the ground or in your trees, that could transfer fire to your house. Since this aspect of wildfire preparedness has been adequately covered by others, here are a few good outside sources:
Ã˜ General wildfire landscaping tips:
Ã˜ Florida wildfire landscaping pointers: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FR/FR07600.pdf .
Ã˜ More on landscaping during wildfire season: [https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FR/FR04700.pdf].
Ã˜ Fire-resistant plants: https://web1.msue.msu.edu/emergency/pubs/wildfire_resistant.pdf.
- Be ready to seal your house before evacuating. Create covers for any opening on your home such as attic vents (roof turbines can be covered with metal trash cans), crawlspace openings, etc. Gather your material (such as plywood) and cut, paint, and label (where it goes) each cover now, keeping them stored on your property for immediate use. Put a couple of hooks over each opening you might cover and drill corresponding holes in the plywood covers. The hooks will hold the cover in place while you drill in the screws. This allows one person to do the job and frees up others to perform other necessary tasks. Hint: Also make covers for your windows (including garage door windows) just as if you lived in a hurricane zone.
- Create a “fire tool box” and include everything needed to prep your house in advance of a wildfire. Store extra garden hoses, water sprinklers, “Y” connectors for extra hoses, wrenches to turn off your gas, rolls of heavy-duty aluminum foil (to cover the openings you didn’t make covers for), machetes and gloves for last minute brush clearing, etc. Store extra tools because you won’t have time to replace tools that might have been broken or lost.
- Make sure first responders can see your home’s address. Put your house number on your mailbox, near your front door, and painted on the curb by your driveway.
Awareness A common theme in all our publications and presentations is the fact that in an emergency, our most crucial asset is time (see our other articles at "disasterprep101 'dot' com). The two key elements of time in a wildfire are one, to have as much done in advance as possible, and two, get as early a warning as possible.
- Don’t wait for a wildfire to approach to start your landscaping. Perform that now and keep your property as fire-retardant as you can.
- Don’t wait for the smell of smoke to warn you a fire is on its way. If fire conditions are right, monitor news channels and listen for community warnings.
- Learn to recognize your community warnings. Does your community have a reverse 911 system? Sirens? Will the local TV or radio station broadcast the alert? If your community doesn’t have any of these systems, why not start them in your neighborhood? At the very least, have a phone tree.
- Buy an NOAA Weather Alert Radio since they’re being incorporated into the overall Emergency Alert System. You should also know who your local Ham Radio operators are. See https://www.arrl.org.
Moisture Water is the king of firefighting and fire suppression substances. The best protection for your property lies in your ability to keep a “dome” of moisture in one form or another all over and around your home.
- One publication under “landscaping” above lists beneficial plants that hold their moisture well. Regardless of the types of plant life in your yard, keep them well hydrated (while following watering ordinances).
- When setting up your sprinklers, give your yard adequate spray coverage, especially over areas that might worsen the fire such as an above-ground propane tank or wooden deck attached to your house. The best sprinkler for surface areas is the professional directional type rather than the small garden variety that only sprays a weak pattern over a small area. Your garden store rep can help.
- Put sprinklers on your roof, being sure to anchor them in place since the high winds generated in some wildfire wind storms can blow them off the roof.
- If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, great! It will give you even water coverage over the grounds and provide a good foundation for the comprehensive water system you’ll need. To your in-ground system add separate “fire” lines that feed water to sprinklers that either spray directly against your house, or outward from your yard to cover vegetation surrounding your property. Too, have a sprinkler line permanently installed on your roof to save you the time of manually putting sprinklers up there. Also, install an additional input valve to allow water from a secondary source like a water pump drawing from your swimming pool.
- If you have a pool, pond, well, or creek, you have a reservoir that should be put to good use so you don’t draw off the municipal water firefighters need to prevent fire from nearing your property in the first place. It’s a simple matter to keep a gas-powered generator (which self-reliant families should have) and a water pump (such as a pressure-washer), and use the two to draw water from your pool and feed it to your sprinklers. If you have a well with an electric pump, hook your generator to the pump to keep it running should local power fail. Exercise caution when setting up your generator so it doesn’t start its own fire.
- A final consideration with sprinklers is position. Cover the outer perimeter of your yard, spray against the outer walls and roof of your house, and cover the crowns of your trees if possible. Also, consider outward-pointing sprinklers anchored to an elevated position such as an upper floor deck or porch, or your roof.
Evacuation We strongly recommend evacuation, even if you’ve taken all the above steps and feel they might work. It’s best that you be pre-prepped and ready to leave at a moment’s notice since time is our most valuable asset. The more ready you are in advance, the more time you have.
- All your landscaping steps should be taken care of now and maintained, especially during fire season.
- In wildfire-prone areas, and especially during wildfire season, keep your bugout kits and vehicle ready at all times (with fuel tanks topped off). Hint: With your documents, keep the non-emergency numbers for local authorities so you can call to find out when it’s safe to return.
- Perform last-minute landscaping ONLY if time allows, since you’ll want extra time to perform the household shutdown steps. However, don’t do anything until you’ve loaded your car with provisions and have nothing left to load but people and pets (in their carriers and/or ready to go).
- Inside the house do the following:
Ã˜ Move all flammables (such as furniture and curtains) away from windows making sure each is closed and latched. Lower and close any metallic blinds. Ã˜ Leave your fireplace damper open, and close the fireplace protective cover.
Ã˜ Close all interior doors but don’t lock them.
Ã˜ Turn off your heat/AC system, and cover any window air-conditioners or floor heater vents with aluminum foil and duct tape inside and out.
Ã˜ Turn off all gas coming into the house whether from underground line or above-ground tank.
Ã˜ Turn on inside and outside lights so your property is visible in heavy smoke. Firefighters may need to use it as a beacon.
- To protect the valuables you don’t have room for in your evacuation vehicle, consider these:
Ã˜ For waterproof valuables, put them in a bathtub, storage tub, or trashcan you’ve filled with water. (Notice we didn’t recommend your pool, since you should be using it to feed your sprinklers.) Ã˜ Large valuables such as antique furniture, etc. should be carried into the center of the house on the lowest floor (the same place you’d go in a tornado).
Ã˜ Major appliances, such as your oven, fridge, freezer, dishwasher, clothes washer, and dryer, tend not to be consumed by flame or crushed by debris and thereby offer a protected storage location for other valuables. Hint: Disposable diapers are surprisingly flame resistant, and might be useful as wraps for some items stored in an appliance.
- Lock up the house, leave a note on the door telling authorities you’ve evacuated, check with neighbors to make sure they’re on their way to safety, hop in your vehicle, and leave. Hint: If the area is getting smoky, listen to your radio for road closure information, turn your headlights on low, and set your climate controls to “re-circulate” so as not to draw in smoke from outside the vehicle.
Naturally, this is an article that could go for a few dozen more pages since it’s such an important topic and certainly one where we could offer extensive detail. For now, this will have to do. Will the above information make you fireproof and prevent any damage to your property? No. But it’s very likely to help, especially if you take these steps now. Taking these measures also helps firefighters since any time a wildfire is delayed or a home protected, you take one more item off the shoulders of first responders. Prep now, stay safe, and remember that preparedness is not only a social responsibility; it’s your only true protection.
Seemingly, not a day goes by that news doesn't flash across our televisions or computer screens reporting of the latest catastrophic natural disaster, terrorist attack or threat, or even the imminent collapse of some major geopolitical or economic system. Sounds all too familiar doesn't it...
It's because of these increasingly unpredictable, or black swan events that there's a growing movement amongst individuals like you to be sufficiently prepared, come what may.
One of the simplest, most crucial steps in disaster preparedness is to have a well-thought-out and organized bug out bag list to aid in your preparations. This will ensure you have the equipment needed to make your departure from an area of disorder or complete chaos a safe one.
A Bug Out Bag List is Not One Size Fits All
An excellent bug out bag starts with a great bug out bag list.
It doesn't necessarily mean everything you put on the list will end up going into your bag, but at least you've got a pretty good idea of where to start.
The last thing you want to happen is not start because you don't now how. Especially if you're just beginning, it's easy to get overwhelmed with the ton of information out there.
Some of it's really good. Some of it's... not.
Building A Bug Out Bag Does Not Have to Be Difficult
Building your own customized bug out bag doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, it should be a fun and enjoyable experience. After all, having a solid bug out plan, and knowing that you're planning well-in-advance should help put your mind at ease about "SHTF" scenarios.
So whether you're new to the idea of bugging out, or you've been in this neck of the woods for a while now, there's most likely something you can take away from the following.
Choosing a Bug Out Bag
The first item on your bug out bag list is the bag itself. There are several schools of thought on this topic, of which the two main ones are:
1) You should choose the best bag for you
2) You should only choose the bag after you have the items
Regardless of how you decide to go about it, make sure your bug out bag is durable, fits you well and is comfortable and has plenty of storage space and compartments to stow your survival gear.
Make sure your bug out bag list includes the following items:
Water and Hydration
Arguably the most important bug out bag essentials are related to water and hydration. The human body can go without water for only 72 hours, whereas it can go without food for about 3 weeks. Water is an absolute must-have in your bug out bag. One liter minimum, per day, per person is highly recommended.
Recommended items critical to adequate hydration are listed below.
- Drinking Water (3 Liters)
- Collapsible Water Bottle
- Hard Water Bottle
- Metal Water Bottle / Canteen
- Water Filters / Purification Systems
- Water Purification Tablets (Qty 3)
Food and Food Preparation
Next up are food stuffs. In the preparedness community there are a lot of people eager to recommend various products, mostly off-the-shelf, dehydrated, store-bought items. A goog bug out bag list contains a variety of non-perishable food items, some that might require water and some that don't. In a real bug out situation, you don't know how scarce your water source might be. To be safe, plan for more scarce than you think.
Most of these items are self-explanatory, but the important thing to know now is, you'll want enough food to last three days at least.Multiply your food requirements by the number of people that would be traveliing with you. For heat-resistance and durability, make sure you have metal cooking utensils and cookware.
- Protein / Energy Bars (Qty 6)
- MREs / Dehydrated Meals (Qty 3)
- P-38 Can Opener
- Metal Cooking Pot
- Metal Cup
- Pot Scrubber
- Portable Stove
- Stove Fuel (Qty 8 Tablets)
Choosing clothing for your bug out bag is a very personalized selection as everyone has different body types, tolerances and levels of fitness. The items listed below are to be strategically layered to maintain a healthy, comfortable body temperature at all times.
Your clothes selection will obviously depend on your location, climate and the other factors listed above. You should evaluate your bug out bag every six months. At these times you'll want to have a seasonal selection of clothes that you can swap out when necessary.
At least two changes of clothes ensure you can always have a dry set to wear. The last thing you want while bugging out, and in the elements, is wet clothes. Not only are they uncomfortable, but hypothermia is a real concern not to be taken lightly.
- Lightweight Long Sleeve Shirt
- Convertible (Zip-Off) Pants
- Wool Hiking Socks (Qty 3 pair)
- Medium Weight Fleece
- Hat w/ Flex Brim
- Working Gloves
- Rain Poncho
Shelter and Bedding
At first glance, to the experienced survivalist, some of the items listed for this category might seem excessive or even impractical. But the items on this list are specifically made compact and lightweight with the backpacker in mind.
Yes, you can make a shelter out of a tarp or use a trash bag filled with leaves as a makeshift ground pad, but these items are a wise choice to include for numerous reasons. Being well-rested, both mentally and physically, is extremely important when times are rough. Do what you can to make sure you're at your mental and physical peak at all times.
- Sleeping Bag
- Ground Pad
- Wool Blanket
Having several means for starting a fire is also essential when bugging out. The following basics should be included in every bug out bag. The reason being, there is a saying in the survivalist and firearms communities:
"Where there are two, there's one. Where there's one, there's none."
Essentially that means, if you don't have a back up, and your primary fails you... you're toast.
For that very reason, have at least three different means of starting a fire on your bug out bag list of items to pack.
- Ignition Source (Qty 3)
- Tinder (Qty 3)
- Waterproof Storage
First aid is one of those areas where there are a lot of "done for you" type products out there that just aren't well-suited for a survival kit. Look for first aid kits that are specifically made for "survival" and have high ratings from reputable sources. Of course, you can always build your own if you know the right items to include.
- First Aid Kit
- Insect Repellant
- Mylar Survival Blanket
Various aspects of personal hygiene are often overlooked when compiling a bug out bag list of essentials. But the implications of forgoing any of these for an extended period of time might lead to infections and a rapid deterioration in health. When bugging out, you need to be at the top of your game, so be sure to pack these items.
- Wet Napkins
- Hand Sanitizer
- All-Purpose Camp Soap
- Hygiene/Signal Mirror
- Small Pack Towel
- Travel Toilet Paper (Qty 2)
Next to weapons, this is the one category that everyone loves to go crazy over. And it's easy to see why; gadgets are cool, and some of these are especially sweet. But remember this: "every ounce counts." Determine the must-haves and forget the rest. That said, consider including the following three tools in your bug out bag.
- Survival Knife
Illumination, like fire sources, is something you'll need multiple instances of as well. If one fails or you lose it somehow, you have another to take its place. Each item listed below has multiple uses, but they all serve the same purpose - helping you see what you're doing or find where you're going. Don't forget the extra batteries!
- LED Headlamp
- Mini LED Keychain
- Light Glowstick
- Mini LED Light
Communications is another highly contested category in the preparedness community. Not all potential scenarios will allow for use of these items, but if your situation does, you'll be glad to have these items with you.
- Cell Phone
- Crank Power Charger
- Emergency Radio with Hand Crank
Depending on the situation you find yourself in, these items might prove quite useful. Don't leave home without carefully thinking these through first.
- Documentation (Passport, Identification etc.)
- $500 Minimum in Small Bills
- Quarters (Qty 8)
- Gold / Silver Bullion Coins
- Local Area Map
- Small Note Pad / Pencil
- Emergency Whistle
Without a doubt, this is a controversial topic.
Self defense is something everyone should give serious consideration. Bugging out, in its severest of circumstances, is a survive or die proposition. Whether you choose a handgun, a rifle, both, or just a can of pepper spray, it's completely up to you. But you can be sure in a bug out scenario, being equipped to defend yourself and hunt wild game will be a welcomed option for most.
If you choose not to carry a weapon, or are not allowed to do so, then at least consider some degree of self defense training - especially if you have a family - as they'll be depending on you for their safety.
- Pepper Spray
- Takedown rifle
- Ammunition (Qty 25 rnds minimum)
These are items that didn't necessarily fit into any of the other categories, but they're just as important for inclusion in your bug out bag.Chances are some of the items will have you scratching your head, but you'll want these items in your bug out bag too.
- 550 Parachute Cord (50')
- Cotton Bandana
- Duct Tape (25')
- 55 Gal. Contractor Garbage Bag (Qty 2)
- Resealable Bags (Qty 5, Various Sizes)
- N95 Face Mask
- Sewing Kit
- Latex Tubing (3')
- Fishing Kit
- Condoms (Non-lubricated)
- Binoculars (Optional)
- Face Paint
- Military Surplus Survival / Snare Wire
The Bug Out Bag List above isn't intended as Gospel truth. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to do your own due diligence and come to your own conclusions. Your bug out bag will not "automagically" keep you alive. It is, however, intended to help you survive a bug out scenario.Emergency preparedness is not a fad, nor a hobby. It's a way of life. If you believe that, you'll be all that much better off as a result.
If you don't learn how to use these items effectively and practice using them on a regular basis, all the bug out bags in the world probably won't be able to help you.
Your emergency survival plan will likely include an area where you will store food, water and other basic supplies. This area deserves some special attention; I call it the emergency food supply isle. After all, it is the place that holds the key to you survival. Don't make the mistake of storing your food in an area that promotes the spoilage of the food you have worked hard to collect. The following tips will help you create the best food storage area you can in your home.
1 - Enough space is important. Too often, people try and shove a year's worth of food into a pantry. This makes for chaos. You won't be able to see what is on the shelves and it will be impossible to track your inventory. You want to choose a place like a spare room, basement or a root cellar that allows you to walk in and really get a good look at all that you have. The space should have enough room for you to stay organized and easily see all that you have. The space should have adequate room for shelves that will allow you to take advantage of all of the space in the area, from floor to ceiling.
2 - The space will need to be somewhat temperature controlled. It doesn't need its own cooling or heating system, unless you live in an area where extreme temperatures are an issue. Room temperature is perfect and by that, anything between 50 to 80 degrees works. Anything colder and you risk your food freezing and ultimately thawing. Freezing and thawing destroys most foods. Heat is another problem and can promote bacteria growth.
3 - A dry and ventilated space will also keep your food in tip-top condition. You don't want it to be damp. Dampness ruins things like flour, pasta and any other dried food products. It promotes mold and bacteria growth, while making a nice environment for pests. If you are using a basement, it is extremely important you keep the place dry. Use fans or install an adequate ventilation system to ensure moisture isn't hanging in the air and threatening your food storage. All food should be stored at least 6 inches off the ground, just in case there is a minor flood.
4 - Pests are a real issue and need to be closely monitored. It isn't hard to see when a mouse or rat has been around. They leave droppings everywhere and will leave paper or cardboard shreds if they have managed to get into your food supply. If you notice mouse droppings or see telltale signs of rodents, you need to take immediate action. Set traps, use poisonous bait if your household is safe to do so and seal up any cracks or holes that may be serving as an invitation for the rodents to invade. You will also need to watch for signs of ants or roaches. Keep the area clean and do not leave any food out that will attract bugs and other pests. Pests are a leading cause of food storage destruction.
5 - You want to keep your food storage a secret for the most part. This means you don't want it completely obvious to any old Joe who rings the doorbell or stops by for a beer or whatever. Your survival supplies and what you have stashed away for an emergency is your business. You don't want to advertise what you have. Anybody who knows you have a big stash is going to come to your house first when things get crazy. Your supply of food, water and supplies should be kept to yourselves and your immediate family members. If you are keeping it in a spare room, keep the door closed when guests are over. Cover any windows to the room with heavy curtains. This actually serves two purposes; it keeps people from peering in and it blocks the sunlight that will cause your food to break down.
With these 5 tips, your food storage will be relatively safe and last for years. Do your best to find the perfect space in your home to keep your food and emergency supplies. It may take some rearranging and even a small remodel, but considering it is your survival stash, it is well worth the effort.
Here is a quick survival food list you can use for starters and remember to use the best food storage containers you can afford. Mason jars are cheap and do a great job of preserving your food and there is plenty of canned food you can store but here are some great ideas to get you started.
- Freeze dried food
- Dehydrated food
- Canned tuna
Water: the most basic and vital human need. With our modern lifestyles it's hard to imagine a world where water isn't readily available. A world where we turn on our faucet and nothing happens. It's important to remember though that your body isn't going to care what got you into a "waterless" place. It doesn't have to be TEOTWAWKI or a downed power grid. Something as simple (and absent-minded) as losing your way in the wild can put you in a situation where you will probably need to get a hold of water for drinking.
While a good many folks like going for adventures, few actually plan for the need to purify water during a survival situation. If you get lost in the mountains for hours on end, maybe days, and you then find a stream of dirty or stagnant water that looks to be too dirty to be good for human consumption you could be confronted with the dilemma of dying of dehydration at the moment or dying later (or at a minimum getting very sick) from drinking bacteria-infested water.
About 60% of the human body consists of water. Rehydration is thus essential in replacing water lost through sweating, perspiration, urinating and breathing heavily. A typical individual requires around 2 liters of water daily to replace the bodily fluids that are lost daily. If fluids are lost and not replenished, our cells shrink and stop working normally. This leads to overall dehydration, then fatigue, then hypothermia, then brain lock that could actually lead to death. In hot conditions, without continually replacing lost fluids, dehydration can set in as quickly as an hour. Living without water can be compared with a vehicle that could keep working without fuel: it simply ain't gonna happen. It has been established that an average man can continue living without food for roughly one month, but can survive for only 3-5 days without water - and that's in exceptional conditions.
If you're lost out in the wild for nearly 7 days, your body will slowly weaken and extreme dehydration may lead to death. Would you go for the dirty water and risk dying of water-related disease or infection later? Worldwide, at least 10 million people lose their lives to diseases which are water-related each year. Unpurified water might lead to severe dysentery characterized by diarrhea, fever and blood stool; cholera; typhoid; disease and infections caused by blood flukes and leeches. All of these diseases can easily result in death.
Survival preparedness, relating to water purification, is critical.
If you find yourself lost in the mountains as described before, the 1st priority is to look for water. In the mountains, water which is trapped between rocks may be located at the base of the mountains or cliffs. If that is far from what your location is, you can search for streams or stagnant water on the ground. The next priority will be to help make the water fit for your consumption. There are various different techniques you can use:
Boiling is thought to be the surest tactic to kill invisible and dangerous microbes. To boil water, you would require two things: a container that is fire-proof and matches to create a fire. If you don't possess a fire-proof container, then your next best choice is rock-boiling. To conduct the rock boiling you'll want to gather rocks and set them inside of the fire. When they get heated-up, transfer all of them to the container with the water. The warmth from the rocks is going to be transferred to the water and boil it. Whichever way you choose to boil your water, make sure it boils for at least 20 minutes.
2. Sunlight Purification
Sunlight purification is the next best purification process in virtually any survival situation. However, this method is dependent upon the availability of sunlight. The only thing you require for sunlight purification is a clear PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) plastic bottle. If you put water inside the plastic bottle and expose it to sunlight for approximately Six hours, the water will be safe for drinking. How this works, is that the Ultra Violet A rays from the sun get rid of the harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites in the water. This method has been proven to terminate up to 99% of harmful microbes in water.
3. Aquatabs water Purification Tablets
This should be the last option for survival water purification and ought to be applied solely as an emergency option. The tabs aren't approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and as such one uses them at your own risk. However, it is comforting to know the fact that the military pack these tablets in their survival kits. Use the tabs as directed on the label if you're ever in a situation when you cannot boil water and there is no sunlight to carry out the above purification techniques.
It is also worth mentioning that the above purification procedures can only be performed when the water to be purified is CLEAR. If you find dirty or cloudy water, it is vital that you filter it first before purification. One way to filter water that utilizes something you're certain to have on you no matter what is to strain the dirty water through a sock. If no clean sock is accessible, you can make a simple water filter making use of the bark of a tree to create a cone. You will need a knife to take a rectangular shaped section of bark off a tree. Then round up some small rocks to place at the bottom of the cone formed from the cut-out bark. Then you can place grass, sand and charcoal in layers. As you pass water through the cone, the visible dirt and chemical impurities are going to be removed. The invisible and hazardous microbes will not be removed through the filtering process, thus the necessity for a purification treatment.
As we had noted earlier, our bodies have to have water to live. Insufficient water in a survival situation could quickly trigger dehydration, fatigue, hypothermia, brain lock and, eventually, death. Tactics of purifying water are as vital as the techniques of finding water in such scenarios. Unfiltered, unpurified water is just about as useful as no water at all and should ONLY be consumed in the most desperate of circumstances. One should, therefore, prepare for the necessity to purify water when organizing a survival kit prior to going for any outdoor adventure. Survival preparedness, survival water purification and filtration are skills that are crucial in any survival situation.
There are a lot of different ways to start a fire if you find yourself in a situation where you need one. What I'm talking about here is survival fires. You find yourself in a survival situation and you need a fire to keep yourself warm, dry out your clothes, or cook something tasty to eat.
Let me first say this. You know if you are not old enough to do this without adult supervision. So just don't do it without adult supervision if you aren't old enough to do it by yourself. You could get yourself into a lot of trouble and either hurt yourself or others or destroy a lot of property. Fire is a great tool if used properly but can be dangerous and destructive if you do not respect it.
The time to learn how to start a fire is not when you are in a survival situation. You need to practice this skill to get good at it.
Tip#1 for starting a survival fire - No matter what type of fire-starting method you use, you will need tinder and small twigs to begin with, so go ahead and gather it now. Tinder is any light weight combustible material that will easily light. Straws, dry grasses, and stringy type tree bark work well. Sometimes I take lint from my dryer and place it in a small Ziploc bag, then put it in my pants pocket when I plan to go to the woods. Dryer lint makes a great fire starter.
You should use wood that is finger sized in diameter for your starting wood. Be sure to go ahead and gather a few slightly larger pieces of wood also. After going through a lot of effort to start your fire, you don't want to let it go out because you weren't prepared.
Clear leaves and other debris from around your fire area to prevent the accidental spread of your fire into an area where you don't want it. If this is a practice survival fire or a campfire, be sure to have plenty of water available to be used to put out the fire. This way if your fire begins to get out of hand, you can quickly put it out. Do not attempt to start a fire when the woods are extremely dry or on a windy day.
Tip#2 Always carry a good disposable cigarette lighter with you when you go to the woods. There is no need to try and be a hero. I usually have two or more cigarette lighters in my pocket when I go into the woods. They are light weight, don't take up much room, and usually work great.
Tip#3 If you have a flashlight with you, use the batteries to start a fire. It will help if you have 00 steel wool. You can buy it at the hardware store. Steel wool is made of thousands of tiny metal fibers. These fibers are so small, that the electricity from a flashlight battery will quickly cause them to glow orange. Add some steel wool to your survival kit or pocket as a back-up. Practice this method in case for some reason your lighters don't work.
Tip#4 You can purchase flint and steel from a number of sources. Practice striking the flint and steel together to send a spark into your tinder. This will take some practice. You never know when you may be in a situation where you have access to a piece of steel in a survival situation. You may be able to strike your steel against rock. Practicing will prepare you for this situation. I do not recommend using your knife for this purpose. Your knife is too valuable to you in a survival situation, and usually doesn't make that good of a fire starter anyhow. Don't damage your knife. If you absolutely have to try it, be sure to use the back of the knife blade and not the edge.
Tip#5 Try using a friction method. This is usually the first thing that comes to the mind of most people when they think of a survival fire. There are several friction methods. One of the most popular seems to be the fire bow. Basically for this method, you will use a shoe lace or other similar cordage to manufacture a tiny bow. You will also need a piece of wood for the drill and a fire board. I prefer to use scrub willow for my fire bow construction. This method looks easy, but it takes a lot of practice to get it right. It helps tremendously if you know someone who can teach you this method.
You will need to carve a notch in the edge of your fireboard. When you drill, material from your fireboard and drill will build up in the notch and form a coal. You will then need to transfer that hot coal to your tinder. A good way to do this is to have your tinder underneath the notch on your fireboard to begin with. You will carefully wrap the tinder around your hot coal and gently blow on it. This adds a lot of oxygen for fuel. As you continue to blow on your tinder, it will begin to smoke. Once it lights, you will want to place your tinder underneath some of your small twigs which should be set up in a small tee pee type formation. Of course, your twigs will now begin to catch on fire. As you manage your small fire, you will gradually add more and larger pieces of wood.
There are a multitude of methods you can use for starting a survival fire. Pick one and begin to study and practice it until you have mastered it. Then try another. You cannot be too prepared, and your friends will be impressed with your new skills and knowledge.