Sometimes it’s not just a matter of being either “hard-headed,” or rooted within the home and sentimentalities. Sometimes there are things that force a family to stay in place and try to face what is coming, regardless of what the rest of the people in the area are doing. Examples of this would be when a family member cannot be transported or moved, or when the family is unable to do it logistically for fear of losing everything or the great hardships imposed by fleeing.
Undoubtedly the army of skeptics is ready to call for fire on my position. Before “Splash out,” sounds on the radio, however, the last sentence is the reality. It happened that way in New Orleans with Katrina. Whatever the situation or the reasons, it is not the focus of this piece to argue with Ned the Naysayer, but to provide something to help those who need it. First advice:
If you can leave the area before the disaster strikes, then do so, and seek shelter elsewhere.
Now to the business at hand. The more able-bodied people you have in the family to help you, the quicker you can expedite these basic tasks. Review my articles on Katrina, and much of this ties into what my family and I did there. We’re going to focus on stuff for a hurricane primarily, and then tailor-make it into advice to suit other disasters as well.
- Precut and preposition materials to close the “soft” spots of the house: plywood, 2” x 4” s, nails, screws, and plastic sheeting…these can be used to close off sliding glass doors, board up windows, and shore up spots that can be entered. If you have the time, then measure everything and cut pieces beforehand to set in place and then attach when the emergency is nearing. Make sure there are extras of these materials in case there’s a breach of some kind.
- Bins and Bags: Place all your food (canned, dry goods, freeze-dried, dehydrated) into bins, and (depending on what floor you live on) raise them up so they’re above ground and secure. The reason is twofold: to protect from water, and so that you can grab them and move out with the food supply. If you don’t have bins, use cardboard boxes and then place them into thick garbage bags. Think on your feet.
- Tools: Centralize the tools you need (any kind of cordless drills or saws will be worth their weight in gold if they’re all charged up. Be able to do their function manually, just in case an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack or a Solar Flare occurs. Make sure they’re protected from water or the elements and that everyone knows where they are and how to use them. Don’t forget tools that you can use to get out, as well, if need be, such as a crowbar and an 8-lb. maul.
- Light: In the form of flashlights, battery-powered lanterns, and chem lights, for starters. Kerosene and white gas lanterns are nice, but be sure to use them after the initial consternation is over, such as the raging winds and so forth. You don’t want to add fire to the list of complications that will present itself. Make sure each family member has their own flashlight! This seems a small thing, but it’s not. Get a good one, such as a Maglite pen-light for $7 or $8. You’d be surprised how much confusion results when the lights go out. If it’s an EMP or war that brings about the power loss? You better have blackout curtains or blankets to hang up and block out any light from escaping out of your windows. Be sure: step outside (if there’s no radiation, of course) and make sure no light is coming out of those edges.
- Medical Equipment and Supplies: any family member who has special needs, such as medication must have access to that medication at all times unless they cannot administer it to themselves for any reason. All first aid equipment should be in a central location where everyone knows where the supplies are. Each family member should have a small kit for themselves, as well, in case they are separated from the group.
- Water: Fill every container that can be filled and closed with a secure/tight lid. Fill all bathtubs, sinks, buckets, and so on. You’re going to need water…on average at least two gallons per person per day. Don’t forget the pets! You’re responsible for them, and if you take care of them they may return the favor when it’s needed.
- Pet needs: we just mentioned it with the water. Make sure anything they need is in a bin…food, medical supplies, and materials to keep them clean and comfortable.
- The toilet: If you haven’t taken my advice from earlier articles, now is the time to pick up a toilet with a bucket that you can line with a plastic bag. Even if you do have municipal sewage, there’s the chance it may back up. In addition, you can’t afford to use the water. Tie it up in the bag and store this in a big bin for burning or disposal later. Make sure you have enough bags to line it and plenty of toilet paper protected in plastic bags.
- Weapons: this one is going to draw the most criticism, but in the end, the decision rests with you and your balance between what is needed and your “love” for the law. Remember: the lawmakers of your state are already evacuated on your tax dime. Every member of the family who is mature and responsible needs to be armed or have a firearm available if defense becomes an issue. The “leaders” of the household need to carry, night and day. Ammo and cleaning equipment needs to be safeguarded from the elements and readily available.
- Assign Tasks: Yes, that’s right. Everyone in the family needs a task assigned. The younger members will feel a strong sense of participation and be both valued and needed. Keep it simple for them, but they can do things, too, such as look after the pets and help take care of grand mom, who is bedridden, for example. Tasking everyone also helps to reduce stress by giving a point of focus to concentrate on. Assign someone (maybe grand mom, if she can do it) to monitor the radio or a small portable TV for news.
- Heads up with “Safe” Neighbors: this is a truly decisive issue and a judgment call. Only who you trust and trust absolutely! You may be able to make a “heads up” with a close neighbor and family to help one another in time of need.
- Last Minute Pickups before the Midnight Hour: Fuel, canned food, as much cash as you can afford to withdraw, any last-minute medical supplies, batteries, extra radios, automotive equipment…anything you might need last minute…buy it. [especially ice and some Styrofoam coolers if it’s summertime…this for #14 below! I did it, and you can, too]
- Vehicles: read what we did in my articles about Katrina. Flooding expected? Stash the vehicle on high, as in a parking garage. They’ll fine or ticket you? They won’t have time to tow you, and guess what? Your vehicle will be working when the time comes. As well, consider adding a 3-day supply of emergency items to the car in the instance that you have to bug out.
- Perishable food: cook it all as quickly as you can, and then refrigerate it. Better to have it cooked and then eat it than have it go bad. When the time comes, throw it on the ice, as I mentioned above. This will both save some of your perishables and also keep you from going into your longer-term/stable supplies.
- Firefighting gear: a couple of ABC-rated fire extinguishers may be a good investment. Keep them handy, charged up, and make sure all your family members know how to use them.
These tips will get you started. We’ll cover more and be more specific for different types of disasters. The important thing is to get these preps done and in place, and to think outside of the box. In the end, you are responsible for your own preparedness, and to adjust accordingly for each specific type of disaster you face. Fight that good fight, and fight it to win. JJ out!