Preparing for Emergency, Natural Disaster and other forms of Impending Doom
I've all but given up on the zombie apocalypse. The undead are getting soft. Most of them now live in Los Angeles to be closer to the set. They spend their days out by the pool, pounding mind erasers and tweeting A.K.
A total collapse of the financial system appears to have been averted, at least for now. In a few years, things will bounce back and bring all new opportunities for greed and bad decisions.
Y2K, 2012 and various rapture dates are tossed around from time to time. One expires and another comes along to take it's place.
Vague terroristic threats, war and protest are daily topics of conversation. Recently senate passed a provision to the defense bill allowing the military to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens within our own borders.
Even the earth itself is out to get us. More so now that global warming is a reality. It's not up for debate anymore. Global warming is a real thing. Hurricanes aren't just for the South East anymore. The North East was hit pretty bad recently with a major earthquake, followed closely by a couple hurricanes and severe flooding. Who could forget the great Halloween blizzard of 2011. Severe flooding and tornadoes in the Midwest and the Deep South. Severe drought in Texas and earthquakes in the West. And this is just in the States. No one is safe from natural disaster.
Some are convinced that we are on the brink of total societal collapse and have begun stockpiling weapons. The freeze dried survival food market is simply booming. Sometimes I get the urge to stockpile but then I just realize that I've been watching too much news. I turn off the TV and go for a hike and suddenly, everything is alright again.
There are different levels of emergency preparedness ranging from stocking up on beer to preparing for the apocalypse. I think I've found a nice, realistic balance between the two.
A few things to consider In order of importance:
Next to oxygen, water is the second most important thing required to sustain life. Depending on different variables a person can go up to 10 days without water. Considering a disaster situation, you will probably be exerting yourself and exposed to the harsh elements. You will require water well before that.
The rule of thumb for disaster preparedness is at least half a gallon of water, per person, per day. Stock an appropriate amount of emergency water for all the members of the house. Use it once in a while and keep rotating so it doesn't get too old. If you have the room save the empties for a last minute fill from the sink before the "you know what" hits the fan. Fill the tubs and sinks as well if possible.
Rain barrels are a great thing to have regardless of imminent danger. They can be useful for such things as watering plants and or washing cars, pets and muddy kids. They will save on water usage on a regular basis.
Rain, creek, river and pond water can be purified for drinking through filtration units, purification tablets, bleach, iodine and boiling.
Ocean water can be made drinkable through desalinization units.
Fortify and Defend Your Home
Window protection is a necessity when living in a hurricane prone area and that area seems to be growing every year. Unfortunately, most people wait until it is too late and a storm is already approaching. This last season I got our house hurricane ready for an affordable price. I measured all the exposed windows in the house, did some calculations and bought the necessary amount of plywood. I cut each piece to the proper size and labeled them all with a sharpie. In lieu of screws or anchoring systems I bought Plylox tension clips. Simply place the clips on the edge of the plywood and push the board into the outside sill. Hurricane force protection for a nominal price with no screw holes in your house.
According to the insurance companies a majority of home damage from high winds are caused through an unreinforced garage door. In the event of a direct hurricane hit I will brace my older garage door with a couple of 2x4's by connecting them directly to the house frame with lag bolts. This idea hasn't been tested yet and I'm not sure that it will hold, but for now, it's better than nuttin'. Newer garage doors are better reinforced so you should be safe if you have a newer home or have the money to replace your old door.
It is also a good idea to clear the yard of all potted plants, furniture and any other possible projectiles.
Unfortunately, human nature can be a source of possible danger in a disaster situation. We've all seen the pictures of smashed store fronts and people walking away with free TV's and toasters. There is nothing stopping this from happening at your house except for you. The police force will likely be swamped or unreachable if the lines are down and the cell phone dead.
When I see that first flame throwing muscle car rolling slowly up and down the street, I am going to turn the plywood I bought to the inside window sill. This will provide added protection from the gang of leather clad punks with face paint and big 80's hair, slowly approaching the house, swinging medieval weaponry.
I prefer the use of fortification and security over confrontation whenever possible. If they can't get to you, you don't have to waste a bullet on 'em.
I won't get into a debate about whether to own a gun or not. That is for each individual to decide. I will tell you that I keep a pellet rifle and a 12 gauge shotgun with a nice stock of bird shot and rifled slugs. I was given my first gun at 12 and I don't take it lightly. With weapons of such magnitude comes great responsibility. If you do have a gun or are planning to get one please know how to use it safely and responsibly.
The best thing to do is to keep the pantry stocked with an assortment of non-perishable canned and dried goods. Again, use these things from time to time to keep rotating the oldest out. I've gotten into the habit of picking up an extra canned vegetable and a bag of dried beans or grains every time I go food shopping. Stock up on your favorite comfort foods as well. In the event of an emergency you are going to need all the comfort you can muster.
I keep a couple of gallons of vinegar in the house at all times. Vinegar has many household uses such as cleaning or unclogging drains without the use of harsh chemicals. Canning or pickling your own food can be fun and delicious as well as economical. I also like to keep a reasonable amount of things like salt, sugar and flour. The basics.
Learn how to make fire. You can rub two sticks together if you want, but stocking up on matches would be much easier. The old magnifying glass trick works pretty well as long as the sun is out. Stock up on charcoal and firewood for the ability to cook without power.
Learn to garden, hunt or gather. If you are going into any of these areas with no knowledge, you have a lot to learn. Find out what grows well in your region at certain times of year. Find out what varieties of wild game and food is abundant in your area. Learn to clean and dress fish and game.
More and more, as a society, we are losing the ability to feed ourselves. We have come to rely heavily on the ability to grab a processed food disc from the grocery store on the way home from work. In the event of a widespread, long-term disaster I think that this could make some people very helpless and potentially dangerous.
In the event of a disaster, rescue teams are always overwhelmed. It may take them some time to get to you, if they can get to you at all. You should have the basic ability to stop a wound from bleeding and stitch it up. Know more about how to set a broken limb than what you see in the movies and learn how to set a tourniquet . Be aware of any poisonous or dangerous animals in your area and what to do in the event of an attack.
Keep a first aid kit stocked with band aids, bandages, tape, tweezers, scissors, scalpel, sutures and needles, rubbing alcohol, neosporin and iodine.
Make sure you're never low on any necessary medications.
Stock up on all necessary batteries.
Generators are great for the short term, especially to keep the heat or AC going, but they will run out of gas eventually.
A hand cranked radio and flashlight is a great thing to have and it will never need a power source.
How about a nice warm shower in a solar heated camping shower?
Solar power is also being used in a lot of electronic gadgets. I have my eye on a solar powered laptop charger myself. Society could collapse and I would still have the ability to sync and listen to my ipod. I'd imagine that it would impress all those slackers down at Starbucks as well, not that I've set foot in one of those for years.
Why? Because beer makes everything better. Some people have comfort food. I have beer. I brew my own and make wine as well. I'm banking that this would make me a pretty popular guy in a post apocalyptic wasteland.
I almost forgot to mention money because I never have any. If you do, it might be a good idea to keep a responsible amount of cash in the house. This is more of an issue now that we rely on plastic to make most purchases. In the event of a disaster the machines may not be accessible or working.
Keep your strongest vehicle gassed up on a regular basis and have a few alternate escape routes mapped out.
Don't forget to plan for your pets.
Get a bicycle.
Just try to be safe, dry and comfortable.
Most importantly don't panic. It's not the end of the world... Or is it?