tips for preparedness
Even if you are not confronted with having to survive in a post apocalyptic world, these ideas and suggestions can help you. Even if it is just a case of being snowed in for a few days and not being able to use your car to buy groceries, these common sense tips can help you and your family. Floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, forest fires, heavy snowfalls, and power outages do occur each year throughout the world. As well, civil and social unrest can and do occur. Thus, making the relatively small effort to be prepared for such unpredictable contingencies is the prudent thing to do.
Many movies and science fiction books paint a very bleak picture for a remnant of humanity left alive after apocalyptic events occur. One of the current fears is that the US would be hit (by its foreign enemies) with powerful electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) that would knock out the electric grid for months (if not years) and cripple many computer and telecommunication systems throughout the country. (A very powerful solar flare(s) with radiation that hit the US directly might achieve the same type of destruction.) This would over several months lead to extremely high numbers of deaths throughout the country. But, although such a scenario is indeed possible, the natural disasters listed above are sure to occur each year somewhere. Thus, some basic and simple preparation makes sense for all of us.
The 2 most important things to take away from this essay are:
1. Be flexible in your thinking so that you will be able to improvise as necessary. You would be surprised how even some basic household materials can be used creatively to at least temporarily remedy some problems that may arise in a crisis or emergency. (Just in every day household life, we have used Scotch tape, duct tape, rope (or even string, twine or metal wire), small pieces of finished wood, plastic sheets and other materials to “fix” things temporarily until proper materials could be obtained for correct repairs.) In an emergency, you will likely need to improvise with what is at hand. This is so because even the most thorough preparation usually does not cover all the possible things that could happen or could go wrong.
2. Have a plan for what to do in an emergency, and communicate this plan to all members of your immediate family. Include in your plan places to meet or ways to communicate if phone service is interrupted and/or public transit ceases. For example, school age children could be instructed to go to friends’ houses near to their school or to nearby neighbors’ homes until parents can pick them up. Remind your children periodically of this emergency plan.
Now to specific suggestions. You likely already know much of this, but there may an item or two that you did not consider. This list is not intended to be all-inclusive or exhaustive. You may think of things we failed to include.
Get into the habit of fueling your cars when the fuel gauge reads one half tank is left. If a crisis occurs, you will have at least one half a tank of fuel in your cars. Gasoline supplies may be scarce for some time, especially if roads are damaged and blocked and service stations cannot be resupplied with gasoline.
Have gun(s) and some ammunition at your home. Why? – you may ask. We are not suggesting or implying that you should have guns so that you can prey upon others. Your guns will serve to allow you to protect your family, yourself, and others (neighbors) if the need arises. During a major (and prolonged) crisis, local law enforcement will be over taxed dealing with the scale of the emergency. Opportunistic criminals know this. Do not be a victim.
More obvious measures to take include having canned fruits and vegetables on hand – enough for several days consumption. If the can is intact and not damaged, many of these foods can be safely consumed even past the expiration date. If the fruit or vegetables look fine, and smell and taste normal, these are likely okay to eat. Keep a manual can opener or two on hand. (An added advantage is that most of these do not need to be warmed nor cooked prior to eating.) The sight, smell and taste tests also apply to dairy products and meats. If something looks discolored, and/or smells rotten, and/or tastes bad, then do not consume it but dispose of it safely. Cheese, if it has been vacuum sealed in plastic, and unopened, usually is good past the expiration date for a week or two if kept refrigerated. As well, dried food will be needed such as bread. Fresh fruit and vegetables that do not need refrigeration can be consumed in the first days of an emergency when you cannot obtain groceries. As to food in general, do not wait until your refrigerator and your cupboard shelves are bare to go grocery shopping. If you do that, you may find yourself snowed in or otherwise cut off on the day you had planned to go shopping for food.
Water. Municipal water supplies may fail in an emergency. This can be due to electric power failure at the water works. Water may be unavailable or unsafe to drink. Keep some bottled water on hand. A generous estimate would be one gallon per day per person. (This may be a little difficult to store on hand depending on your circumstances.) Try to keep at least a few days worth of water on hand. If you have a storage area such as a large utility closet or a garage, bottled water could be stored on the floor in these areas (perhaps with some cardboard underneath the bottles in a garage).
Medicines, first aid kits. etc. Obtain and keep on hand the basic items in a first aid kit. These include basic bandages, anti-bacterial creams or ointments, aspirin, etc. Keep at least a 2 week supply of any daily medications you or your family members are taking.
Keep on hand basic hand tools. You will have to be your own “handy” man or woman during an emergency. (If you are on good terms with a neighbor who is handy or good at fixing things, so much the better.) A few basic screwdrivers, a hammer, a hand saw, a pair of pliers, some basic wrenches could be needed during a prolonged crisis. As well, garbage can sized plastic bags can help to keep things dry and the plastic can be cut to use for other purposes. Keep some different kinks of tape and rope or heavy twine on hand, too. Flashlights and fresh batteries should be kept in your home.
Some people may want to invest in a gasoline or fuel oil type home electric generator. That can be a large investment for many people and may not be workable for apartment dwellers.
Okay, you get the idea. Making these basic preparations is a small investment of time and effort to help ensure that you and your loved ones survive (without undue hardship) an emergency. Feel free to forward this essay on to anyone you know that may benefit from its contents.