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Emergency Preparedness for Disaster Survival

Updated on February 13, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

What Makes Me So Concerned?

Why am I concerned that everyone have an emergency survival plan?

A couple of years ago my family and I were watching it rain as we left the house to go to church on a Wednesday night. We mentioned to each-other that it was really coming down, so unusual for July in north Texas. When we got home, several hours later it was still raining steadily. I looked at our sheep, my spinner's flock of 3 Jacobs, and wondered aloud if I should move them to the pasture where there were more trees for shelter. You see, I had them in a movable pen in the front yard mowing our lawn. They were wet and miserable. My husband thought a moment and said that I should not, they would be fine. That choice would later save their lives. We went to bed listening to the ping of drops against the window.

I don't know what woke me up. An odd sound? I am not sure. I could hear of the horses hitting the water tank? Did one of the kids forget to water them? I sat up and looked out and....

My pasture was flooded. I could see our horse, Candy, in a weird light and she was up to her belly in water! I jumped from the bed yelling at my husband to wake up, pulling on shorts and a top and boots as I scrambled down the stairs.

By the time we got the last sheep and goat into my laundry room (only safe place), chickens on the porch, and horses out to the street, I was moving through water that was up to my chest in my front yard. My house was raised higher than the property around it, but even so we realized later that the water was within inches of coming in.

Later, as my husband checked on neighbors as part of his responsibility as the president of the homeowners association, we found that some of our neighbors had lost everything, some had waited for hours in the rain on their roof tops, some had lost livestock, but no-one in our neighborhood was dead. Others were not so lucky.

During the weeks afterward we cleaned up debris, had our barn repositioned (it had been moved 8 feet) and generally thought about alot of what ifs. While we were working 12-15 hours clearing stuff from our property, chainsawing downed trees, and helping neighbors, no-one was in the house cooking. I had no time to shop. I was unprepared.

Now, this was not nearly as awful as the hurricane situation, or tornadoes or other things that could have happened but the truth is that my lack of preparedness made a difference in my life that I don't wish to repeat. I hope that some of what I have learned helps you.

Some of the debris, including the shed, that washed up on our property during the flood.
Some of the debris, including the shed, that washed up on our property during the flood.

Have A Priority #1 Sealed Bin

Actually you need a couple of them. This first bin is to be the priority one bin. It is the one you are going to grab if you have to evacuate in a hurry or there is a fire or flood. A good size rubbermaid bin with a seal-able top is perfect. You may want smaller bins to fit inside for organizational purposes. This bin will hold your priority items and you will keep it in a place you can get to it in a moment. These are what I consider to be priority-

1. copies of birth certificates and social security cards for everyone in the family

2, copies of insurance papers, marriage certificates, bank accounts, credit cards, even last years tax return

3. an address book with important phone numbers and addresses. Copies of prescriptions.

4. cash. An envelope with 500.00 would be what I would shoot for.

5. water purification tablets

6. MRIs for 3 days for each family member,

7 solar blankets. These are lightweight and fold into small packets. One for each family member

8 matches

9. flashlight and batteries

10. hand crank radio that does not need batteries or electric

11. hand sanitizer

12 toilet paper

13. powdered infant formula if you have a sure to keep this in date. Bottles.cloth diapers( you can run out of disposables)

14. First Aid kit

15. a survival reference guide, like The Ultimate Survival Guide by John Wiseman

16 a Bible

17. water bottles.

18. dried fruit and nuts

19. dog food/cat food if you have a pet.

20. A couple of story books, crayons and coloring books

21. Feminine hygiene products- You may want to consider cloth pads that can be washed and reused.

23. trash bags, latex gloves, can opener, scissors, multiple use knife

Now, remember, this list is to get you through the first few hours in an emergency. With these items you should be able to grab the bin, get your family in the car and be gone in a matter of minutes. You will have proof of identity, cash, food, and even things for the kids to entertain themselves with.

There may be other things you can think of. Go ahead and add them. But remember this bin is to be somewhat light. easy to get to, and easy to manage so keep it as small as possible.

A 72 Hour Kit

Debris was stacked nearly five feet high against the fences that were still standing after the flood.
Debris was stacked nearly five feet high against the fences that were still standing after the flood.

Bin 2

In this bin you will keep your longer term stuff: cleaning products, flour, dry milk, sugar, salt , paper plates, peanut butter,yeast, jelly, kool aide, crackers, beef jerky, tuna fish, hand soap, a bowl, a skillet...anything you might need ot get you through a longer time, yet in an easily transportable form. This bin would be left in cases of extreme emergency but taken if there was time to grab it. Consider this bin to hold the day 4-10 emergency equipment and start up materials for rebuilding your life if the need arises.

To me that would include books on homesteading, how to build cabins, grow gardens, medical guides etc. You may also want to familiarize yourself with the birth process, since even in emergencies babies get born on their time, not ours.

You would also want to keep vegetable seeds in there (non hybrid) and seeds like alfalfa for sprouting. This bin is going to hold the seeds of your new life.

Knowing how to fish is an excellent survival skill
Knowing how to fish is an excellent survival skill

Have a Long Term Plan

Last you want to have things on hand at home to make you self reliant. Maybe you are not in a situation where you will have to leave the house. Maybe it is another issue and it is just that the economy has failed, you have lost your job or some other thing. This is the type of preparedness that you work on long term. Skills, habits, attitudes, and resources that will allow you to live not only off grid, but independently as possible.

I wrote another hub about these things, 25 Ways to be More Self Reliant that is more of a long term preparedness plan. If you want to see what type of things you would need imagine that different situations have happened and how you would handle them. Walk through your house and see what would occur if you were without electricity for an extended period in the summer. How about winter? We don't use air conditioning because for one, it is expensive, and for the other we found that we have acclimated to the warmer temperatures and can work outside without getting over heated. When we had the flood and i had to use the chainsaw for extended periods of time I realized that I needed strength training to help my arms become stronger.

What would you do about sanitation and toilet needs? Trash? Could you cook without electricity? What about heat for your home? How would you store your food? Do you have some kind of water supply?

Remember that your main priorities will be :

1. food

2. water

3. shelter

4 safety

5. Transportation - for an extended time period you will want bicycles because what if you can't get gasoline?

Each of those areas should be covered. You will also need tools like axes, hammer, nails, wood glue, hand saws, etc. so that you can make or fix anything that might need to be fixed. If you don't know how to do basic things like how to split wood then read up on it and learn to do it when you don't have to. SO many things our grandparents knew how to do have been lost to us.

Consider A Gun

This seems to be controversial so I will add it in it's own area. I think everyone should be knowledgeable in the use of firearms for obtaining meat, as well as defending your family. In the case of a massive emergency a percentage of society becomes even more corrupt than it is all ready. Ever read, Lord of the Flies?

For us part of preparedness is responsible use of firearms. Having the guns available, being trained in the use of them is an important part of our preparation. I like the idea of being able to provide small game as needed and I feel good about being able to protect my family with a hand gun if it becomes necessary. Of course everyone is different and you must follow your conscience.


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    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 6 years ago from New Jersey

      Hello Marye,

      I just survived 6 days of no electricity in NJ due to a freak snow storm in NJ. The snow was not deep, but leaves were still on the trees, so the heavy clumps of snow broke the power lines. There was not a hotel room anywhere in the tristate area. Since we used to camp often while younger, I was able to call on those skills. We do have a fireplace, so collected wood and started a fire in the afternoons, to build it up enough to get warm in the eves. Although we were lucky to have 50 degree weather, insulation in the home works both ways, and it was colder in the house than outside. We cooked perishables. We had candles and flashlights. We tried to stay out as the cars had heat, and most of our friends were in similar situations. We went to the library in the evenings to use computers and keep warm for a bit. Our town was woefully unprepared, but I want to discuss making a shelter at the next council meeting. But it really forces us to see how dependent we are on technology and that as the weather patterns change we must be prepared. Many women seemed shocked as I told them I had to boil large pots of water and add cold in the bathtub in order to keep clean. I am not working outside the home, so didn't have to dress up, thankfully. I am going to make a better kit though, and feel like it will be a cold winter!

    • Decision Point profile image

      Decision Point 7 years ago from U.S.

      High quality food reserves with a shelf life of 15 years makes the preparation process easy. No longer do we have to mark dates on cans and cycle out old expired food products. Great information.

    • profile image

      kalala 7 years ago

      what if i was on the moterway and the disaster happened and i could'nt get home to get all the survival eq i needed.........

    • profile image

      kalala 7 years ago

      thanks for helping me with brilliant ideas thank you emergency eq list thank you again.

    • secondreview profile image

      secondreview 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Very good advice. I've been thinking about this for some time and now I know a place to start

    • profile image

      Survival Seeds 7 years ago

      I like your idea of having two bins, priority #1 and #2. It does make more sense than keeping everything in one place, and makes the bin #1 weigh very little, which could be important.

    • secondreview profile image

      secondreview 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thanks for the check list. Everyone in my house is talking about 2012 and catastrophe. I think I'd better get a move on our own survival kit.

    • Emerald Moss 31 profile image

      Emerald Moss 31 8 years ago

      Thanks Marye, I don't think alot of proplr really take all this as serious as they should. Denial that it could ever happen to them, or that even if it does that it won't be that bad. Hopefully if enough of us, who have been through survival situations express our concerns, more people will become aware.

    • debris profile image

      debris 8 years ago from Florida

      Hello Marye,

      I'm an avid follower of business and economic news, and a Christian as well ;), and my wife and I have been quite startled at a lot of the things we've been seeing. I study survivalism in my spare time, which is very little. Because of the things we've seen we have formed and are currently executing our survival plans which includes a lot of the things you've mentioned! We opted to use weatherproof duffle bags as it will cut down on the weight and I have them labeled as A,B,C and on the tag it lists what's in there. But we both know that Bag A is first to go and if there's time the other bags in order.

      It's fantastic to see other people getting prepared and I'm very happy that you put together such a well thought out hub. I'm afraid that many people aren't as prepared as they should be, and I can vouch for planning and say that my wife and I are always relieved when we see bad news and think about how prepared we currently are. Don't forget that the best preparation is to accept Jesus himself!

    • doodlebugs profile image

      doodlebugs 8 years ago from Southwest

      Excellent hub. I've been a fan of yours for some time. I wrote a similar one focused on survival backpacks. I'll post a link to yours there.

    • profile image

      christy 9 years ago

      this is a very informative article...people should be well educated about it

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 10 years ago from North Carolina

      Excellent Hub Marye, very informative, the city dwellers like me take everything for granted, it is nice to know you guys are prepared.

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      no problem! Thank you for letting me know it was needed.

    • Lela Davidson profile image

      Lela Davidson 10 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

      Thanks, Marye!