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Eight Essentials for riding out a major natural disaster

Updated on January 6, 2018

A major natural disaster in your hometown could make life miserable for quite some time. Take steps now to "ride it out" for a minimum of three days in comparative comfort.

This list is not intended to be all-inclusive. It is only part of a Disaster Plan for you and your family, a plan that requires you to think through your needs. It is the planning more than the plan, which will give you the greatest benefit.

Water
Stock enough water for everybody in the family for three days (minimum.) One gal/person/day should provide enough for drinking and minimal hygiene. Include a bottle of pure bleach or a filtration kit, too.

Warmth
Have a sleeping bag or wool blanket for each person.

Food
Stockpile some non-perishable food to last at least 3 days ... many experts recommend supplies enough for a week or more. The damaged infrastructure, gridlock, and hoarding common in the wake of disasters may affect food availability in local grocery stores for many days. You're going to be miserable enough without having to eat "fake food," so include foods you like and things you "just gotta have!" like (instant) coffee, tea or hot spiced cider. Remember infants, children, the elderly, and any pets when stocking foods.

First Aid
Assemble a First Aid kit and simple first aid manual. (Scout Manuals work great!) Unless you carry essential medicines on your person, you should have a few days supply in your disaster/ first aid kit. Remember to refresh medicines! Check with your pharmacist. Include an extra pair of eyeglasses, if you wear them.

Fire Protection
Have a Fire Extinguisher. (Should be an "A-B-C" type, and fully charged.)

Light
Stock several good flashlights. (My kids always want to have their own.) Consider getting head lamps to free up your hands. Include lots of batteries and a couple of spare bulbs. Beware of candles. They can (and have) caused fires.

Radio
Include an AM/FM battery powered radio and extra batteries.

Plan
Have a plan! Think through what you and family members should do in a disaster if you're at home .. not at home .. if the home is damaged .. if it is not damaged. Where do the kids go if you can't get home? Talk about it at dinner and come up with a plan. Write it down. Include a "re-stocking schedule" to refresh water and food items every 6 mos.

Now consider taking your "Eight Essentials" above the level of basic survival and include the following.

  • Be able to take your emergency supplies with you. You may want (or need) to vacate your home or apartment. Consider a "back pack," Army duffel bag, or wheeled tub.

  • If you need eyeglasses to safely drive, or see at night, or read a first aid manual (or the small print on medicine labels,) then have an extra pair in your disaster kit.

  • Have a camp stove and fuel (for a week.) If you are able to stay in your home, you'll have pots and pans available. If you evacuate to a shelter, there will be emergency food service, so taking pots, pans and other "picnic supplies" may not be necessary. Include a manually operated can opener and a sharp knife.

  • Stash a small amount of cash. ($30-$40 because credit cards, debit cards, cash machines [ATMs], and check cashing facilities won't work without electric power.)

  • Remember toilet articles and feminine hygiene items, especially hand soap, tooth brushes, and toilet paper. (This is in case you have to vacate your home or apartment and flee to a temporary shelter, your back yard, or the apartment complex parking lot.) Include several dozen plastic garbage bags.

  • Include your bible, paperback books, cards, and children's board games/ puzzles.

  • Listen for radio announcements about contaminated water or closed highways, the location of food distribution centers, shelters, and medical tents. Be aware "news reports" for the first 2-3 days may be exaggerated and inaccurate. Beware of rumors!!

  • Keep the faith and keep your sense of humor. You and your family are going to make it through this!!

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